Archive for August, 2008

An American Idol or a Pastor?


I have to admit that on occasion I have watched American Idol. I usually avoid the show simply because I find its title and concept rather revolting. The problem is, however, that many of the contestants are extremely talented—they are entertaining to say the least. Nonetheless, I find the show “revolting” because it feeds upon the superficiality of America’s pop culture. But even though the show is incredibly superficial, there have been seasons in which the person with the most natural or God given talent has won, instead of the most “attractive” contestant, or the one with the most flair. Generally speaking, however, it is the exception rather than the rule that the most deserving person wins.

Regrettably a similar thing is happening to the Pastors. Pastors seem more concerned with their image rather than conforming to the example given by Jesus or his immediate followers. Furthermore, churches unwittingly encourage their pastors to act more like celebrities instead of spiritual shepherds. The bottom line for today’s American congregations is do they like “listening” to their pastors, as opposed to hearing the word of God taught. Similarly, pastors are more worried about how they are perceived, and whether they are being seen with the right people rather than personally investing in and training a new generation for service to the Lord and his gospel.

How do I know this to be true? It’s pretty simple, just look at the average pastor’s job description. They usually involve a set amount of hours in sermon prep, and then in hospital visits, and then in business meetings, and then in staff meetings, and then in etc., etc. (you get the picture); all of which requires generating written reports. I would venture to say that in about 80% of the job descriptions for lead pastors in the average American church there is no reference to “discipleship,” and in the minority in which it is referenced, it is bundled among dozens of other activities that comprise a sort of “to do list,” that is if time permits. All of which can be only vaguely measured, and for which no pastor can realistically be held accountable—given the many demands of the “more important” responsibilities. To put it plainly, discipleship is ancillary rather than essential.

The question is, however, is this what Jesus modeled? If one simply weighs the amount of time that Jesus spent in investing, teaching, and training his personal disciples compared to all of his other endeavors, then it is clear that discipleship was the most important component of his entire earthly ministry. Let me say that again: discipleship was the most important component of Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. And the same can be observed in Paul’s ministry as well. The point is obvious. The only thing of consequence that Jesus did by himself was to die for the sins of the world—which was something his disciples were unable to do for themselves, let alone for anyone else. The fact is that Jesus’ ministry began with discipleship (Mk 1.17-20) and ended with His command to His disciples to go and do likewise (Matt 28.18-20).

But is the American church looking for disciple makers? Apparently not, instead they are looking for “American Christian Idols” (who by the way no longer need to be men). They want individuals who are young, good looking, have it together, and most importantly—they must “sound” good. People must like listening to them. So much for hearing from God about the offense of sin and the way of the cross. So, if you are wondering what kind of pastor your church has, start observing how much time he spends discipling others for the purpose of serving the Lord through evangelism and ministry. If you don’t see it happening with regularity or if you don’t even hear about it, then your pastor is fulfilling an “image,” rather than Jesus’ mission to the church.

Copyright @ by Monte Shanks, 2012


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