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Opinion | Sexuality

Our Unhealthy Obsession with Pastors

A truncated view of ministry actually discourages women’s involvement.
Our Unhealthy Obsession with Pastors
Image: Orange Grove Media / Flickr

In today's ongoing debate over women's leadership in the church, the discussion has focused on God's intention for men and women and which of them can preach, teach, and lead. But we've overlooked another factor: how the pulpit has become a coveted idol of contemporary Christianity.

Many of us have come to believe, consciously or unconsciously, that the man standing up front every Sunday is the only one doing real ministry. Sure, our church might have a "music minister," a "children's minister," and so on, but we see those positions as ancillary. We have made the pastorate and church eldership idolized positions. We have turned preaching into the enviable celebrity focus of ministry. I'm afraid that in this Internet age, mass-media pastors (deserving as they may be of accolades and honor) have often become an ill-fitting archetype for what congregants expect of their local ministry.

Of course, preaching the word remains a central point of Christian ministry, but we have celebrated it at the expense of minimizing and diminishing many other ministerial works. We tend to elevate the position of pastor to an unhealthy level that I believe was unintended in the New Testament, where we are told that all the saints are to be equipped for work and service. Ephesians 4:11–12 says:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up ...
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