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The title of my message today is “The Shepherd: The
Biblical role of the Pastor”. As you can imagine this is
something I have been thinking a lot about over the last
One of the questions I am often asked is what I do for a
job. And once I tell them I am a Pastor all sorts of
questions arise. So what do you do during the week? Have
you got another real job? Who pays you? You only work on
Sunday for an hour don’t you?
One of the best descriptions of a Pastor that I have
heard is comes from Canon J. John in the UK. He often
travels on planes and people ask him what he does. He says
he works for a global enterprise that has been around for
a long time with outlets on every continent and in every
city. He says we are involved in hospitals and healthcare,
schools and universities, involved in food programs and
helping the homeless, dealing with people from birth to
death, we spend all our profits on making people better
people and we are involved in long term behavioral
alteration. Then when they ask what company it is, he says
We all have our ideas what a Pastor does or what a Pastor
should do. If we asked all of us we would probably say
things like preach, teach, care for people, counseling, do
good deeds, reach out to others, visitation, marry and
bury people, give our practical help like food parcels.
And we would be right.
I think it is important for us all to understand what the
Bible says about a Pastor is and the role he plays in and
for the church and the role the Bible calls them to be
1. Equipping the church for the work of ministry
The first role of a Pastor is an equipping role. They are
to equip the church in works of service. This is the major
focus according to the Church of Christ head office.
Ephesians 4:11-13 – It was he who gave some to be apostles,
some to be prophets, some to be evangelists,
and some to be pastors and teachers,
12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that
the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach
unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the
fullness of Christ.
These roles in the church are known as the four-fold
ministries or the five-fold ministries depending on what
church tradition you are from. Some traditions group
Pastor and Teacher into one. Some separate them. These
five roles are there to “prepare God’s people for works of
APOSTLE: Eph. 4:11; 1 Cor. 12:28 – to be
sent forth to new frontiers with the gospel, providing
leadership over church bodies and maintaining authority
over spiritual matters pertaining to the church.
PROPHECY: Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; Eph. 4:11 – to speak
forth the message of God to His people. This can be one on
one, to a church group in the case of someone speaking in
church or through a sermon.
EVANGELISM: Eph. 4:11 – to be a
messenger of the good news of the Gospel. People with the
gift of evangelism are always thinking about bring people
to Christ and are able to teach others how to share their
PASTOR: Eph. 4:11 – to be
responsible for spiritually caring for, protecting,
guiding, and feeding a group of believers entrusted to
TEACHING: Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11 – to
instruct others in the Bible in a logical, systematic way
so as to communicate pertinent information for true
understanding and growth.
The primary ways the Pastor/Teacher equips the church is
through preaching, setting a godly example in living and
through things like Bible studies.
God wants us to grow and mature in our faith and He uses
our own personal Bible reading and the teaching of Pastors
we hear in church. I have grown so much and learnt so much
from my Pastors over the years. I wouldn’t be the person
who stands before you if it wasn’t for them. I am so
thankful to God for them.
It is interesting to note that the word Pastor only
appears once in the New Testament. However, the Greek word
Poimen, is used in a number of places. In the other places
it is translated as shepherd.
The primary role of the Pastor is to equip the church for
the works of service.
2. Shepherding and Overseeing the church
The second role mentioned in the Bible for a Pastor is
shepherding and overseeing the church.
Peter 5:2-4 – 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is
under your care, serving as overseers–not because you
must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be;
not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it
over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the
flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you
will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
This is the second key role of being a Pastor or Elder in
the church. In most Churches of Christ, the Pastor becomes
one of the Elders of the church. So, we are called by God
to shepherding the flock that is under our care. So, who
are the flock? Those who are connected to the church. The
Greek word is the local body of believers. So, the Pastors
/ Elders responsibility is primarily to the church
As we saw earlier the Greek work for Pastor is Poimen and
this can be Pastor or Shepherd. Two other closely related
words are poimano which means shepherding and poimnion
which means flock. As you can see on the screen – the
Pastor/Shepherd (poimen), shepherds (poimano) the flock
So how does the shepherd oversee the flock and care for
them? Each church is different and has different focuses.
But common aspects of preaching and teaching of the Word,
preparing and attending Bible studies, prayer for the
church and congregation individually, spending time with
people in small groups and one on one visitation, more
recently connecting via social media, working with the
Elders to keep the church on track.
This is the second role of the Pastor Shepherd.
Now I want to move on to some examples of good and bad
3. Ezekiel’s example of Good and Bad Shepherds
In my Pastoral Care unit at Bible College we looked at
some examples of good and bad shepherds. In Ezekiel
34 it gives us a guide to what good and bad pastoral
Ezekiel was told to prophesy against the shepherds of
Israel that were taking care of themselves and not the
Ezekiel 34:1-5 are the negative examples.
Ezekiel 34:1-5 – Then this message came to me from
the LORD: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the
shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message
from the Sovereign LORD: What sorrow awaits you shepherds
who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t
shepherds feed their sheep? 3 You drink the milk,
wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let
your flocks starve. 4 You have not taken care of the
weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the
injured. You have not gone looking for those who have
wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them
with harshness and cruelty. 5 So My sheep have been
scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for
any wild animal.
All in all, this is a pretty bad picture of how they were
taking care of the flock. They were selfish and not doing
what they were meant to be doing. You can see why God has
asked Ezekiel to speak out against them.
The bad shepherds focused on themselves.
In the latter part of the chapter God says that He
Himself is going to care for the people. In this He says
what He is going to do.
Ezekiel 34:16-22 gives us some good examples.
Ezekiel 34:16, 22
– I will search for My lost ones who strayed away, and I
will bring them safely home again. I will bandage the
injured and strengthen the weak. … 22 So I will rescue My
flock, and they will no longer be abused. I will judge
between one animal of the flock and another.
In this simple picture of good and bad shepherds we see
what God wants and expects from Pastors and shepherds. He
wants them to care for, watch out for and strengthen the
flock. And they are to do this with justice and a selfless
Good shepherds focus on God and others.
So in closing, these are the two things that the Bible
charges the Pastor with as their responsibility.
1. Equipping the church for the work on ministry (Ephesians
2. Shepherding and overseeing the flock that is entrusted
to them. (1
3. Good and bad shepherds (Ezekiel
By Dave Quinn
Founder of PASSIONAustralia.org
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