I read an interesting article last week written by Craig Groeschel, the pastor of LifeChurch.tv. LifeChurch.tv is an interesting place – several campus including one on the internet, but that’s not what interest me about Groeschel’s article in Leadership.
In the brief article, Groeschel mentions what one of his mentors called “the pastoral mystique.” He writes, “Week after week, he warned me about a pastor;s mystique: ‘Keep your guard up. Don’t let them know the real you. Dress the part. Talk the part. You’re a pastor now. Never let them into your life, or you’ll regret it.'”
Groeschel goes on to talk about the danger of this kind of behavior, but I want to chime in as well. I know many ministers who have been wounded deeply be churches and so-called friends in churches that have used knowledge of them against them in harmful and career ending ways. Unfortunately, this has lead many pastors to adopt the pastoral mystique out of necessity.
But the flip side, I think, is more dangerous. I know too many pastors who approach their work and ministry in the detached, unaffected, dispassionate way that the pastor’s mystique eventually leads to and in each case it is hurtful to both the church and the gospel. It seems odd to me that pastors could preach and teach at churches for years and the congregation still not know them, yet it oftentimes happens. It seems strange to me that there are some pastors whose families are no more involved in the life of the church than some of the most scant attenders, though that phenomena is not unfamiliar in many churches. I don’t think pastors should work themselves into ulcers or that ministry families should be expected to be at and participate in everything, but surely if a pastor actually cares about a community how could they not be significantly engaged?
I reject some – though not all – of the professinalisation of the clergy that has occurred over the past 30 years. I reject that as a pastor you can show up, complete the tasks of your work and not be significantly engaged in the life of the church.
The reason is that communal life is part and parcel with living the gospel. The New Testament is replete with encouragement and suggestion that the Christian life is meant to be lived together and how can you preach and teach Scripture to a body and not live it out to the best of your ability. Just me thoughts. What do you think?