What is a “Pastor” and Who should be one?
Someone recently asked, “If spiritual gifts are not gender differentiated, shouldn’t women be leaders in churches as well? (such as being a pastor)”
LET’S BE CLEAR WITH TERMS WHICH SOMETIMES ARE MERGED
To offer a helpful and Biblically informed answer, we should start by sorting out some terms.
PASTOR – the word used in the Bible, especially the New Testament, means “someone who shepherds.” Historically within the culture of the church, it can refer to an OFFICIAL LEADERSHIP ROLE (e.g., Pastor Bill is our church’s “pastor” – meaning such a person typically as a defined role to lead the entire congregation both by teaching the Bible and its truths and by giving direction along with other leaders to the direction of the church).
Or this term can refer to the FUNCTION OF SPIRITUALLY CARING for people, either in an official recognized capacity or simply as an expression of gifts of discernment, mercy, exhortation, helps, etc..
PASTORAL LEADERS – Clearly, both women and men are gifted by the Holy Spirit to function “pastorally” with people inside and outside the Body of Christ. So gifted, it is very fitting to say, “Sharon is a pastor. She loves and shepherds other believers well.”
Additionally, there is nothing in Scripture that would restrict women with pastoral gifts to serve in an official, recognized role as “one of the church’s pastors.” Both women and men, so gifted with pastoral and leadership giftings, should be encouraged to serve as shepherding leaders over various segments of a church’s constituency (e.g., pastor of worship arts, children’s pastor, women’s pastor, groups pastor, etc.).
THE PASTOR OF THE CHURCH – However, it is important to recognize that we use a phrase like this to identify a somewhat different leadership authority in the Body of Christ. Many in churches use this phrase to identify the individual who both consistently provides and guards the integrity of the Biblical (or apostolic) teaching of the Christian message for the church. Such an individual gives himself to “preaching and teaching” for the church, as well as entrusts the apostolic truth of Christ to others who also engage in teaching for the body.
In my understanding of the instruction of the New Testament, this official and recognized teaching/leadership role is to be filled by a gifted, prepared, and godly male. In my blog on this website (www.ccames.org) entitled “1 Timothy 2:11-13 A lower view of Women or a Leadership Call to Men?” I offer what I understand to be the Apostle Paul’s instruction to this end. You’re invited to look and think that through.
BOTTOM LINE – while spiritual gifts are not gender differentiated, they are always to be used in ways, situations, and places as the Spirit of God instructs in the New Testament. In the body of Christ, the recognized role of the leading teacher of the apostle’s doctrine about our Lord Jesus Christ should be eagerly filled by a godly, humble, gifted, and prepared man, providing this unique leadership to the people of God, as we await the return of our Savior.