the ministerial ideal

“For an earlier generation, the ideal minister was an evangelist who was measured by his success in persuading large numbers of people to become Christians. … In a second era, congregational expectations for the minister shifted from outreach to nurturing the congregation and responding to the needs of individuals. … In the present era, the minister is ultimately measured by the ability to organize, build, and manage a complex organization. … [churches] seek someone who is a combination of … Jay Leno, Lee Iacocca, and Dr. Phil. … the missing dimension … throughout all of this] is a theologically coherent understanding of the purpose of ministry …

“A very consistent understanding of ministry emerges in all of the letters [of Paul], allowing us to define it in precise terms: ministry is participation in God’s work of transforming the community of faith until it is ‘blameless’ at the coming of Christ. The community is unfinished business, standing between its baptism and its completion at the end. Paul’s pastoral ambition, as he states consistently in his letters, is community formation. … Paul’s pastoral ambition is to participate with God in effecting the transformation of his communities. (Rom. 15:15-17; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 1:12-14; 11:1-3; Gal. 2:2; 4:11; Phil. 2:16-18; 1 Thes. 2:9-10)”

Pastoral Ministry According to Paul: A Biblical View by James W. Thompson Baker Academic, 2006); pp.8-9,19-20.

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