David Alan Black on Pastoring


Have you been pastoring lately? No, I did not ask if you are a pastor. Pastoring is not just the work of church leaders we call “pastors.” Pastoring is a much broader concept that includes a whole perspective on life. Pastoring (a metaphor) is simply shepherding — caring for others. In his essay “The Theology of Pastoral Care” (Pastoral Psychology 10 [1959] 21-26), Paul Tillich argued that pastoral care is a universal function. No profession can monopolize it. He went on to differentiate between those who are pastors and those who pastor as follows: pastors exercise this care intentionally and consciously, whereas others do so more casually and unintentionally. In this sense, then, pastoring has nothing to do with religious office per se. All believers can and should be pastoring. Pastors/shepherds may help to facilitate this ministry, but they do not pastor to the exclusion of the sheep caring for each other.

Becky has had numerous pastoral visits in recent days. Sometimes our “pastors” have come. At other times, pastoring brothers and sisters have visited her. Once again, the clerical paradigm fails us in our theology. The care in “pastoral care” should never be limited to ordained clergy. To confuse our “calling” with professionalization is a dangerous thing indeed.  Sourced at David Alan Black’s blog.

3 thoughts on “David Alan Black on Pastoring

  1. I recently made this comment elsewhere to someone who was moving from a church leadership position to a college environment. “”

    ****. I think we do the Lord a disservice when we think of pastors and pastoring as being a leader of a church. The gift of pastor isn’t a title or position, rather its a function of being.

    By this I mean its what one does despite position. I have never pastored a church within the traditional sense of understanding – but I have consistently pastored others in and outside the church. As a student, I have been amazed when other students open up to me, and even have had lecturers do the same. I do voluntary work as a community chaplain in our local area and find myself constantly pastoring the community in which we live.

    I think when it comes to functions, its best if we have a wide view of the church – and that is Christ being the head of every Christian, past, present and future and every expression of fellowship within his body during this time….If Christ has called us, instilled in us his gifting of pastor then that will flow out of who we are no matter our “official” position / title in his church.


  2. Love this, especially this:

    “Pastors/shepherds may help to facilitate this ministry, but they do not pastor to the exclusion of the sheep caring for each other.”

    Elders/pastors/shepherds in the church should be serving as an example to other believers in how they ought to act, not acting in place of them. Great thoughts!


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