Our church is led by a team of pastoral elders. Because these elders share together in the shepherding of the church, we refer to these church leaders as “pastors.” Our pastors lead the church as a team, with no senior or lead pastor. (To see more about why we have this kind of leadership structure, click here.) So, if the church isn’t led by one pastor but by a whole team of pastors, what do all these pastors do? We’ve compiled the following job description from such scriptural passages as Acts 6:4; 20:28-31; 1 Timothy 3:2; 5:17; Titus 1:9; James 5:14; and 1 Peter 5:1-3.
Pray for the church: The pastors are to devote themselves to praying for the spiritual health and vitality of the people in the church, and to lift up to God any needs of the people.
Teach the church: The pastors are to be involved in teaching the people the Word of God and overseeing other teachers in the congregation, to make sure that the body is well-fed spiritually, so the people will be growing in their knowledge of God.
Lead the church: The pastors are to be continually seeking the will of God for the direction of the church by constant prayer, study of the Scriptures and consideration of the needs and opportunities of the church. They should regularly seek the input and counsel of others in the body, and then should lead in applying biblical principles to specific situations and circumstances.
Care for the church: The pastors should demonstrate loving concern for the spiritual well-being of the people in the church. They are to be available to pray with and counsel anyone in the body struggling with spiritual, emotional or physical problems.
Guard the church: The pastors are to be constantly on guard against any false teaching or harmful behavior in the church. They must be able to refute false teaching and act decisively against any destructive activity.
Equip the church: The pastors are not responsible for all the ministry within the church, but through their ministry (as described above) they are to equip their brothers and sisters in the body to minister to each other and serve one another in love. The pastors should help the people discover their spiritual gifts, provide opportunities for them to use and strengthen their ministry skills, and train new church leaders.
- Not all pastors will be equally gifted in every area of responsibility. Some pastors will be better leaders than teachers. Some will be excellent at teaching in small groups or one-on-one, but not at teaching in large group settings. This is healthy and one of the reasons why the biblical pattern is a group of leaders shepherding the church. The strengths of the different pastors will complement and balance each other. However, all pastors should be involved, in some way, in each of these areas.
- Not all pastors will minister as a full-time vocation. Some pastors will be supported by the church, particularly those who devote great amounts of time to studying and teaching (see 1 Timothy 5:17-18). However, all pastors share in the responsibility to shepherd the church of God, and no pastor is to be elevated above the others.