Summary: The pastoral ministry is one of the five perfecting ministries God gave to men so that Christians may come to spiritual maturity. Apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and pastors are the governing body of the church. The office or ministry of the pa
The Office of the Pastor
Ephesians 4:11-16 - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The pastoral ministry is one of the five perfecting ministries God gave to men so that Christians may come to spiritual maturity. Apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and pastors are the governing body of the church. The office or ministry of the pastor falls into this category.
Pastors are given to help train and equip God’s people and to bring them to maturity.
They are to prepare the saints for works of ministry and to teach them how to build up the body of Christ. The purpose is to bring the church into unity of the faith so that the body of Christ can grow into the full measure of Christ Himself.
This is also true for the other four ministry offices that have been given to the church.
The word “pastor” comes from the Greek word “poimin” which means "a shepherd or one who cares for, feeds, guides, and protects the sheep.” It is applied to someone who cares for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of the people under the authority of the pastor.
The pastor is the shepherd of the people and is given a special ability by God to provide a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual care, protection, guidance, and feeding of a group of believers.
b. Overlapping functions and ambiguities
There is a lot of debate as to how the 21st century church should be organized. There is a problem with trying to emulate and implement the 1st century church leadership structure into the present-day church because most of the definitions and descriptions are not precise.
It seems clear that according to New Testament Scripture, the categories overlap.
In Philippi, Paul greeted the bishops and deacons without mentioning pastors or elders. This suggests that bishops, pastors, and elders could be overlapping terms.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he listed qualifications for a bishop but not for an elder. Yet Ephesus only had elders. Paul left Titus in Crete to ordain elders.
The qualifications for elders are brief and blend right into qualifications for bishops. Paul prescribed the qualifications of a bishop to Titus when he was commissioned to ordain elders. This suggests that bishop could be another name for an elder.
Although the terms bishop, elder, and pastor may have suggested slightly different leadership functions, there seems to be a great deal of overlap in these titles. The difference, if any, between such functions was never spelled out. Paul does not seem to be concerned about what the leaders were called and neither does he detail what they did.
Just as a pastor is a functional title which describes the shepherding role that church leaders have, a bishop is also a functional title, which implies both care and authority.
A shepherd watches over the sheep. Peter told his elders to be shepherds and serve as overseers. In this case, there are three titles which overlap.
A pastor is a person with the gift of shepherding. An elder is a person taking the office of eldership, and one of the responsibilities of that office is shepherding.
After studying the 1st Century pattern of church leadership, according to the New Testament one can safely conclude that there is no difference between an elder, shepherd, pastor, bishop and an overseer.
c. Their function
The office of the pastor is only given to certain individuals who God anoints with supernatural enablement to minister.
You cannot choose to be a pastor. Pastors called into this office are not trained in the religious schools of man, nor are they raised up from among the leadership of the organized church.
Pastors take responsibility to nurture the whole person in their walk with God and provide guidance and oversight to a group of God's people. They establish trust and confidence through long-term relationships and lead and protect those within their span of care.