pastoral leadership

Pastor: Shepherd or CEO?

Modern day pastors have been all too willing to accept the role of a CEO running the church like a business, serving more as a visionary leader than a shepherd of souls. We’ve served the bottomline more than the “least of these.” Board rooms and whiteboards have replaced prayer chapels and the pastor’s study. More pastors attend leadership conferences than monastic retreat centers. We’ve been producing consumers through religious entertainment rather than disciples through rigorous catechesis. (I’m obviously describing more Evangelical, non-denominational churches than the Roman Catholic, Anglican and mainline churches that “failed” to “get with the times.”)


On a more personal note, many quieter shepherd souls and aspiring wise guides have spent years battling an identity crisis. We feel out-of-place and overlooked in the church business world since we don’t have the temperament of a ladder-climber or the leadership skills to successfully “run a church.” But our ordination certificate is framed on our wall, offering a gentle daily reminder of our solemn and public vow to

“preach and teach the Word of God, administer the sacraments, and serve with the love and authority of Jesus Christ. Keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has appointed you shepherd. Encourage the faithful, restore the lost, build up the body of Christ; that when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, you may receive the unfading crown of glory.”

We feel very much called to be pastors, albeit in a much different and more ancient garb.

But the cultural tide is slowly turning. This time it’s the new wineskins, or pastoral methods, that we’ve been using since the Reformation that are bursting. We need pastors to reclaim some of the older wineskins/methods if we’re to give a new generation of spiritual seekers a taste of the wine of the Kingdom-way-of-life Jesus taught.

What word of encouragement would you offer the small church pastor who struggles to grow the organization? What word of caution would you offer the effective CEO pastor?

To be continued…

This is part 3 of a 4-part series. Read part 1, part 2, and part 4.

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