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These are the three types of pastors

While there are many ways of categorizing sermons, PASTORIA simplifies preaching down to two key characteristics that distinguish one type from another.

In summary, there is a difference of purpose for a “classical” sermon and a “post-modern” sermon.

A. “Classical”

The typical pastor of a mainline protestant Christian denomination and graduates from an institution of higher education with a Master of Divinity is taught that preaching is for the purpose of properly exegeting or interpreting a particular passage of scripture (aka pericope).

So, the marks of preaching in this sense is 1) the referencing of biblical scholarship, 2) the exemplification of an interpretation from real-life persons, and 3) the proper application of the interpretation of a passage to a disciple personally and/or society as a whole.

2. “Post-modern”

In contrast, the type of preaching that is most appropriate for the post-modern era is one that relegates the proper interpretation of a particular passage of scripture to the proper interpretation of a particular period of one’s life.

While “classical” preaching wishes to address the question of, “what is the meaning of scripture,” “post-modern” preaching instead addresses the question of, “what is the meaning of my life right now?”

The means of this is seeing the life of the person as scripture currently being written by God and in need of exegesis.  Scripture, as known traditionally as the bible, is one part of God’s collection of narratives that is of equal status to that of one’s life.

Implications

“Classical preaching” is grounded in the perspective of “classical ministry” where the purpose of ministry is to gather a congregation of followers of Jesus Christ who share, through proclamation, a grand meta-narrative (a broader story of a congregation in which each individual’s story has a part) as a “community.”

“Post-modern preaching” is not a proclamation of a grand meta-narrative; it is the offering of an alternative ontological ground to that of any other such sources.  “Post-modern ministry” does not seek the establishment of a “community,” but that of the affirmation of a differentiated collectivity.  In other words, we are “one” because our differences reflect the diverse nature of reality.  We are not “one” because we share the same values or seek the same identity.

More will be explained in an upcoming PASTORIA audio guide to be released in late 2019.

last updated: february 3, 2019

To project a ministry’s trajectory, PASTORIA begins with identifying the pastor’s type according to a “three variable model.”

In essence, the model theorizes that a pastor is a combination of three main emphasis variables of: 1) “me,” 2) “others,” and 3) “principle.”

A “type” is identifiable by the one dominant variable which typically leads to a common set of behaviors, experiences, and ministry results.

1. “Me”

The “me” pastor places a dominant emphasis on how the pastor is treated.

For example, a staff pastor may be adversely impacted by her inability to accept why her supervisory pastor is not treating her with the respect that she deserves.  Another example might be a supervisory pastor who has intentionally filled church leadership and staff positions with those who most readily recognize her authority rather than by their performance capabilities.

This emphasis often results in a never-ending struggle over who is in charge and if all is being carried out appropriately as the nature of ministry is such that not all within the ministry share the same understanding of the place of the pastor.

2. “Other”

The “other” pastor places a dominant emphasis on how others are treated.

For example, a staff pastor may be adversely impacted by her inability to accept how a people of minority status are not treated justly in a congregation.  Another example might be a supervisory pastor who has intentionally filled church leadership and staff positions with those who may never do harm to each other rather than by their performance capabilities.

This emphasis often results in a never-ending struggle to eliminate the ways by which anyone might be excluded and how everyone will be satisfied with the ministry as the nature of ministry is such that conflict and dissatisfaction is necessarily an integral part of life together.

3. “Principle”

The “principle” pastor places a dominant emphasis on how well a ministry reflects a method or model of how ministry “should be.”

For example, a staff pastor may be adversely impacted by her inability to accept why social justice is not the main purpose of the church as she experienced on a mission trip in a different nation.  Another example might be a supervisory pastor who has intentionally filled church leadership and staff positions with those whose background is in business as is the textbooks that the pastor has studied.

This emphasis often results in a never-ending struggle to design internal processes and structure to most accurately align with a method or model as delineated by an expert or textbook as the nature of ministry is such that processes and structure is likely based on tradition or polity rather than any other principle.

Projection

It is important to recognize that each pastor is a combination of these three emphasis variables even as one may be clearly dominant.  At the same time, it is equally important to recognize that each type can commonly experience a resulting vicious cycle that ultimately prohibits ministry innovation.

PASTORIA believes that ministry success (however “success” may be defined) is increasingly a matter of how all three emphasis variables are integrated and adapted for each particular condition rather than what position a pastor has taken on the way ministry ought to be.

In other words, a pastor should not be only one thing or one type.  A pastor should exert a particular set of characteristics for one condition while that of a completely different set for another condition.

The importance of above-mentioned leadership innovation becomes critical to a higher degree in digital-first, post-modern, and multi-ethnic contexts where diversity is a given even while authenticity is demanded.

More will be explained in an upcoming PASTORIA audio guide to be released in late 2019.

For now, the questions that arise are:

  • what must a pastor undergo or learn in order to live out such leadership innovation?
  • is such a diverse set of characteristics also a must for a ministry as a whole as it reaches out to its context?
  • how might a pastor bring about such ministry innovation in an existing ministry that seems resistant?

These and other related matters are addressed in subsequent parts of The Seminary Underground, The Dream Retreat, and other PASTORIA services.

last updated: january 21, 2019