As a preacher, am I a pastor? The "unofficial" Church of Christ position is that the preacher is not a pastor. Over the past twenty years, I have heard this point made many times, and I must confess that on more than one occasion I have so corrected someone who called me a pastor.
However, although in theory I have denied being a pastor, I must confess that in practice it is a much different matter. And I rather suspect that such is true with regard to many, if not most, Church of Christ preachers, if they would only be honest enough to admit it.
Of course, I can only speak from my own experiences, and so, can only really speak for myself. In doing so, as I look back over my experiences with congregations as a minister of the gospel of Christ, practically speaking, I find that, from the beginning, I have indeed functioned as a pastor.
I have been working with Church of Christ congregations since 1971. Most of that time, it has been in a full-time capacity, albeit I have also, on several occasions, worked in a part-time capacity with congregations. As such, I now have some 17 years of experience in such work under my belt. During those 17 years, I have had the occasion to work with a total of eleven different congregations. Only three of these congregations have had elders. The total number of elders that I have worked with, as such, is eight. Of these eight elders, sadly, only one really functioned as a pastor.
The plain truth of the matter is that, except for that one instance where I had one elder who was functioning as a pastor, in every other instance I have been the only one who was shepherding, that is, feeding, watching over, caring for, etc., the congregation (flock). And even in that one instance where there was one elder who was shepherding, I was still doing these things also. Indeed, except for that one instance, if I had not functioned in this capacity, no one would have.
Doesn't that, then make me a pastor? People may instead refer to me in such terms as preacher, minister, and evangelist, and in function I am all of these things. But, I am, in function, also a pastor. And as someone has well said, "A rose by any other name is still a rose."
Make of this what you will. Cry to high heaven about how it is "unscriptural," or whatever, for me to be a pastor, if you want to. But don't blame me for having the courage to acknowledge what I, as well as a lot of other preachers, actually am in function.
If you are going to place the blame somewhere, then I suggest that you place it where it squarely belongs, on our system of doing things a system whereby something called a "located preacher" is brought into a congregation and placed in a situation where he must do what elders should be doing, but so often, there are not any elders, and if there are, they usually are not doing it, and for that matter are not even qualified to do it.
Yet, the flock needs a shepherd. As the Bible so aptly depicts, a shepherdless flock will soon be destroyed. Thus, I have no other alternative but to function as a pastor, whether you like it or not. And I will so acknowledge that I function as a pastor, whether you like it or not. Indeed, I will continue in that function until such time as the system is corrected, with "located preachers" ceasing to exist, once again becoming, instead, evangelists, and qualified men begin to function and serve as elders, pastoring the local congregation, and sending the evangelists out into the field, where they belong, to convert the lost.