Jordan on Pastors

James Jordan says:

Second, by no means are all pastors, teachers, and preachers gifted as exegetes or expositors. Pastors are curates of souls primarily. Teachers often are called to pass on the heritage of the faith, not rework it for modern times. One of the errors I encountered in seminary was the notion that all pastors should develop their sermons out of an in-depth exegesis from the original Hebrew and Greek. Virtually nobody ever does this, of course, but it was held out as an ideal. There is nothing ideal about it, however. Preachers need to pass on the heritage of the church to their people, with a pastoral eye to their psychological and spiritual situation. If they get their homilies by borrowing from Spurgeon, or from other people’s outlines — what’s wrong with that?

4 thoughts on “Jordan on Pastors”

  1. like the emphasis on “curate”, but don’t think we should borrow from Spurgeon. still think that the ministry of the Word requires exegesis in the study, even if very little makes it into the sermon.

  2. I think some but not all pastors can do in-depth exegesis. Note that he is talking about Greek/Hebrew study etc. There are a lot of good guys out there who can preach and care for souls but may not be equipped in that way. Think of itinerant preachers, third-world guys, or the local guy who just doesn’t have those tools. We all stand on the shoulder of giants to some extent.

    1. When I was in the Philippines recently, I sweated out preparing a sermon (literally!) A few days later, when I met again with the Baptist pastor of the church I was preaching at before the service, he expressed astonishment that anyone does this!

      He told me that he never prepares a wholly original sermon, and this man has no knowledge of Koine Greek or Hebrew, yet I have no doubt he is a fine, prayerful, and caring pastor of his flock. He turned to me and explained that in fact, he “borrows” many of them from the Web. The way he said this was so matter-of-fact that it seemed he thought this should be obvious to everyone. The implication was that Western clergymen are the only ones in the world duped into believing that every pastor or curate expects to prepare an original homily with the Greek and Hebrew tools or even prepare a homily at all.

      At the end of the day I agree with Rick: you have to be able to crawl before you can walk. And you can’t make that message walk if you’re completely unaware of the nuance of the text, even if you never went to school and you’re not an exegete.

      1. I’m going with Jordan on this one. He’s taking a bit of poetic license regarding Spurgeon and doesn’t mean just repeating his sermons. He’s talking about borrowing from the past. Innovation may get us into trouble.

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