It's a common myth in churches: We hire pastors to do ministry. If they can't get it done, then they hire staff to help them. Of course, there are always a few fanatics in the church who will also help, but for the most part we rely on the pastors to do the ministry.
It's called the Superpastor Myth. We convince ourselves that the pastor has a special connection to God and has been endowed with "pastor dust." Being in his or her very presence is enough to make a person more spiritual. If the pastor isn't the one doing the talking or visiting or caring or leading...then it's just not good enough.
It's typical for seminaries to perpetuate the myth. In fact, many of them have spent decades training "doers" rather than "leaders.
It's convenient for the laity to believe the myth. It makes it so much easier to remain uninvolved and critical of someone else for not getting the work done.
It's heady for the pastor to believe it. Who doesn't want to be a superhero?
We do unintentional things to perpetuate the myth. We ask Superpastor to pray before every church meal. If he's in the room, then it's up to him to bless the beans. We expect Superpastor to visit us in the hospital. No one else will be able to say the right things at the right time. Superpastor offers financial counseling, career counseling, parenting and marriage counseling, crisis counseling, and every other kind of counseling. Only a superpastor could be an expert in all those areas.
What if pastors really took the Ephesians passage seriously? What if we saw it as our responsibility from God to equip the believers for ministry? What if we trained our members to run meetings, teach lessons, lead small groups, visit people in the hospital, offer care, and provide counseling? What if we measured our success by how often we were equipping and measured our failure by how often we were doing?
What if it were our goal to push the ministry as far out into the church as possible? What if we agreed upon the mission, vision, and values that we share, and then we just let people go? What would happen if an individual in crisis were offered help by a trained leader who was already in relationship with him or her?
And then, as the church grows, what if our purpose as pastors transitioned toward training trainers and leading leaders? What if, rather than adding leaders, we could be multiplying leaders?
Let's kill the myth of the superpastor. Let's show our church that we are human beings placed in a position to lead the church. Let's adopt the value that every member is a minister and that significance and fulfillment in the Christian life come through serving.