In a lecture on Introductory Theology, Kevin Vanhoozer describes how ministers were once considered Masters of theology, but now are considered Managers of programs for whom theology is only peripheral. He explains:

The pastor is the Manager of resources, financial and personal – no wonder the MBA may be more appealing than the MDiv. Note, however, that this picture of leadership is taken from other social institutions. The Israelites wanted a king like the other nations; we evangelicals want managers of megachurches to be like the megacorporations of our age. On the institutional level, the pastor is a professional manager of organizations. On the individual level, minister function as Therapists, applying psychological technology to individuals. The Manager and the Therapist are the dominant social paradigms for leadership in our times: the question is, to what extent should the Church follow suit?

Hopefully we will start asking the question more frequently, but the answer to it is a bit more complex. For example, some of this depends upon the size of a church. In a smaller, independent-type church, the pastor will often have to wear the hat of not only the minister, but the secretary, occasional janitor, administrator, etc. Now I know (or rather believe) it is not supposed to be that way normally, but it is nevertheless the case in smaller settings.



But consider a larger church. It seems to me that mega-churches within evangelicalism are functionally Anglican. I know we don’t want to admit it, but the significant precursor of the large program driven church with lots of staff is something close to an episcopal structure. What makes this even more fascinating is the numerous churches, usually of a Baptistic tradition, that are going down the road to a multi-site. This too needs to be part of a broader discussion of ecclesiology—what is your doctrine of the church that brings you to function in this way.

Now here is the point in regard to the quote. Since we have not consistently thought through our “doctrine of the church” in regard to these structures that have developed within evangelicalism over the past 50 years or so, and since we have not acknowledged, at least on some level, that this is functionally epsicopal, then we sometimes fail to make the distinctions between the one who has been called to be master of the word and teaching, and the one who has been called to manage the congregation. Of course, we end up calling these rolls Senior Pastor and Executive Pastor, and that is a step in the right direction for the large churches, but as we see more church planting movements, and more “campuses” connected to a central church, and multi-site ministries, etc...etc. I’m just wondering out loud now for ways to think through the importance of this distinction Vanhoozer made, and the necessity of “managers” and “masters,” and what kind of ecclesiastical structure we are conveying as we think through this. I’m also wondering out loud, although I didn’t get this far, about the responsibility of those evangelical churches with resources to those who are further away from the city center without resources. Again, that involves a discussion of “connectionalism” that evangelicals tend to avoid.

Articles by James Grant

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