Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pastor as Expert

Cognitive load theory says that experts are distinguished by two things:

  • Extensive schemas of knowledge stored in long-term memory

  • High levels of automation in handling many of those schemas

Obviously, becoming an expert requires a significant investment of time, energy and attention.

It seems clear that no one can be an expert in everything (outside the movies).

At various times and in various places, pastors have been expected to be experts in one or more of these subjects and skills:

  • Administration

  • Biblical exegesis

  • Biblical languages (Greek & Hebrew)

  • Business management

  • Change management

  • Counseling

  • Fundraising

  • Marketing

  • Personal networking

  • Politics

  • Public speaking

  • Systematic theology

But what is the essential expertise that is required?

I would suggest that every pastor must be an expert in spiritual transformation. He (or she) must be growing more like Christ and be able to assist others in understanding that process and putting it into practice. It seems to me that this is first responsibility of the leader of any group of believers. Anyone who does not see this as the chief calling does not belong in leadership within the Church.

There is a secondary responsibility that follows the primary in much the same way that the second great commandment (to love the neighbor) follows the great commandment (to love God). I believe that every pastor must also be an expert in theology.

I don't mean systematic theology. Experts in systematic theology often have little expertise in spiritual transformation. They seem to be more concerned with organizing the truth about God than with living it out in real life. I'm referring to what Nouwen is talking about in this quotation:

The Christian leaders of the future have to be theologians, persons who know the heart of God.

Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, p. 68

As pastors, we must know God and be able to articulate how he relates to all of life.

We need to develop a robust theology that addresses

  • Work

  • Play

  • Relationships

  • Money

  • Evil

  • Sex

  • Time

  • Nature

  • Power

  • Culture

So what do you think? Do you agree with my basic point? Would you add anything to the list?

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"

1 comment:

daniel the smith said...

I like the description of theology. I can't think of anything to add to your list at the moment. And this is probably a good list to keep short, anyway.