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How the Pastor's Task Has Expanded

From shepherd to manager and missionary


The term "pastor" comes from the Latin word for "shepherd," which is used in both the Old and New Testaments as the image of one who protects and cares for God's people. The primary shepherd/pastor is the Lord himself (Psalm 23), but the Bible also recognizes human undershepherds.

But the New Testament instructs elders to be good shepherds. "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock," writes Paul. "Savage wolves will come in among you. … So be on your guard!" (Acts 20:28-31).

In the Bible, then, pastoring is presented primarily as protecting and feeding the flock of God. But over the centuries, these essential functions developed into specific and distinct roles.


The Reformation recovered the emphasis on the pastor as the "teacher of God's Word." Preaching had been neglected. But the Reformers restored preaching to its place. Breaking the Bread of Life means, in part, preaching the Word.


In the ...

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