Monday, January 5, 2009

With a Capital "P"

Scot McKnight is complaining about informal pastor web pages.

"What annoyed me about these sites was the utter absence of a sense of the sacred in pastoring, of the overwhelming sense of God's call upon a life that reaches so deep that everything becomes holy, of the profound respect and privilege of the call to lead God's people, and of the total lack of order."

I normally think he's right on, but not today. I don't like the argument that the priesthood of all believers means the pastor's calling isn't "better, just different", when that "just different" calling comes with special titles and decorum and pomp and circumstance and seats of honor and special access to God. I don't like the implication that God's call that makes everything holy is reserved for a select few. There is none not called (Yoder said that somewhere).

If this is a problem at all (I'm quite dubious), it's a problem of the celebritization of pastors. Scot cites the fact that some pastors' websites list what's on their iPod or what they're reading. It is a little self-absorbed to think that everyone will want to know what your favorite music is. But then again, I have a blog, and so does Scot, so how can we judge?

Now, he's right that the priesthood of all believers doesn't mean hyper-individualistic rejection of authority. It doesn't mean "no one can tell me what to do" or "I can find God on my own". It means the opposite of that, actually. The priesthood of believers is a call to incredible mutual interdependence. But it also doesn't mean the outsourcing of our spiritual life to a special class of religious professionals.

What do you think? Does your church's website have pastor bios with tidbits of info? Do we treat pastors too informally? Too formally? Should we have a clergy/laity distinction at all, or is the biblical image of the body of Christ much more complex than that?


Lionel Woods said...

I will have to agree with you brother. The quote that got me is when he says something about when one becomes a pastor "all things become holy". I think this statment tells everyone else "all things don't have to be holy because you have a holy man who has a holy life and is closer to God". Maybe I am wrong but that is what I hear.

Pastoring is a function and gift which is caring for people. Not an authoratative position such as a company CEO. The priesthood calls all to be holy. All to be "peculiar" and all to function as "priest" and "God's stones". The Old Covenant had special clergy due to Israel's disobedience to be priest and royalty before Him (Exodus 18-24). That office has been dissovled in Christ and all believers minister to each other and to God based on their giftings. Not on their "office".

Anyway I will stop there. But you are spot on brother. We must be careful not to elevate one gift over the other and the gifts don't come with heiarcheal overtones. Special seats, special web pages, special clothes, special titles and special privellages only robs the church of the Spirit.

Travis Greene said...

Thanks, Lionel.

Let's hear some Jesus:

Matthew 20:25
Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."