Thursday, October 16, 2008

Is a Pastor a professional?

Over the past couple decades the church has seen the rise of the professional pastor. The old school model of being a pastor is much different than the model that a pastor now follows. What has resulted is the mindset of ministry has changed - in good ways and in bad. Let's start by breaking down the old school model of ministering vs. the new professional model.

In the Old School model the pastor does not have an office, but a study. It is called a study, because that's what happens there. Offices are where office work is done, pastors study for their sermon. The pastor is frequently going to the hospital, people's houses, having people come into their study (at least half of a week is spent with people). We should also note that in an old school model, the pastor usually does not have a huge staff; often pastors are by themselves in churches of 250-300 people! The programs are instead run by volunteers or the senior pastor. Planning for events and programming falls into the responsibility of church boards, thus relieving the pastor from having to be on top of every detail of every program in the church.

So, in the Old School model pastors spend most of their time either with people or preparing for sermons.

The Professional model takes this Old School model and tweaks it just a little bit. First off, the pastor is now operates as the CEO/President of the church. This is a drastic shift in role of the pastor. This means that primary on responsibility is the job of dreaming up, planning, and executing programs in the church. Usually churches have pastoral staff, usually a youth pastor, a congregational care pastor, and/or a worship pastor. The pastor works in an office, because more than just studying is happening there.

What to think?
1 - I think we should note the the addition of professional pastors has created an atmosphere where growth happens. Often in the Old school model, churches would stay the same decade after decade. Actually the Old School model has much to blame for many of the issues found in the church today.

2 - The professional model, often looks in all sorts of places to help develop the church and its ministries. Today I was given a photocopy of the Harvard Business Review by a pastor. It discussed Pixar's technique for creating kick butt movies that everybody loves! Thus we see that it is open to a multitude of avenues of thought.

3 - There is a shift in priority. No longer is working with people the focus, developing the church is the focus. While yes, developing the church is really focusing in people, there is a subtle difference. One is dealing with the individual, one is dealing with programs. In this mindset a pastor may spend most of his or her time pouring into the development of a small group of leaders. The pastor must be strategic in time management, because one must prioritize responsibilities.

4 - The pastor becomes task/goal driven. Evaluation in the Old School model is very tough to do as it is pretty subjective. If the people in the church feel loved, and the sermon is good on Sunday morning that pastor is doing a good job. If not, then he''s in thin ice. The Professional pastor can be judged more objectively through a study of the church programs. Church begins to be treated through the lens of how tasks are accomplished. (Even if it is just a small level of speculation)
What do you think?