I am taking a class at George Fox about Friends’ Pastors and this week was asked to answer: “From your experience and observation does the Friends pastor stand between the people of your congregation and Jesus Christ or does the pastor serve to point people to Christ to learn from him directly?” in 200-250 words. I would be very interested in hearing from my Friends of various flavors what they think about my reply.
From my experience, the answer to this question is yes. I have seen both happen in the same meeting with the same pastor at the exact same time. While it would make it easier for us if the answer was cut and dried, the messy reality is that different people will have different responses to leadership, and the leaders themselves fluctuate in their ability to point people to Christ.
It is very easy to blindly criticize or blindly accept pastoral leadership. It is much more difficult to sit as a meeting and discern the leading of God in how we are living out our relationship together and whether the leadership has remained faithful to their call. Too often we don’t do the evaluative work that maintains health in any relationship and so end up leaving those called to pastoral ministry out of the relational center of our church and isolate them; whether through raising or lowering them in status.
The central issue here is not one of whether or not there is a call, but whether we choose to elevate or lower a call in relation to the other gifts the Spirit has given for the building of the church.