In a previous article, Bo Lane, founder of ExPastors.com, wrote eloquently on why so many pastors leave the clergy today. Between 1,500 and 2,000 pastors become ex-clergy every month in the United States alone.
This number is astounding!
Bo underscored some of the reasons why pastors leave the pastorate. But there’s another reason that accounts for why countless men and women leave the clergy system.
The reason? A crisis of conscience.
Countless pastors have concluded that the present form of the pastoral role is not biblical, and God never intended anyone to fill it … especially them.
Now if you’re reading that sentence and want to grab your heart-medicine, then skip over this article because it’s not written for you. (However, this is an ExPastors site, so I’m not sure why you would be reading this article if that sentence doesn’t compute.)
This article is for the thousands of expastors who knew something wasn’t right with the office they were filling. But they weren’t sure what was wrong or why it was wrong.
I’m here to encourage you by announcing (1) you are not crazy (2) there are hundreds of thousands of servants of God who once served as local pastors and felt exactly the same way you did. So fear not.
Richard Hanson once said, “It is a universal tendency in the Christian religion, as in many other religions, to give a theological interpretation to institutions which have developed gradually through a period of time for the sake of practical usefulness, and then read that interpretation back into the earliest periods and infancy of these institutions, attaching them to an age when in fact nobody imagined that they had such a meaning.”
Hansen’s big idea was echoed by a contemporary pastor who wittingly wrote, “I majored in Bible in college. I went to the seminary and I majored in the only thing they teach there: the professional ministry. When I graduated, I realized that I could speak Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and the only thing on earth I was qualified for was to be pope. But someone else had the job.”
Now how could the office of “pastor” not be biblical?
Pastors did exist in the first-century. They were called shepherds, elders, and overseers. All interchangeable terms for the same function.
But the modern role and contemporary form of the pastoral function has few points of contact with anything we find in the New Testament.