President's Convocation Spring 2013

The Call to Pastoral Ministry

Jeff Iorg, President’s Convocation - February 7, 2013

“There is a coming crisis related to pastoral ministry in the church,” announced Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. “The crisis isn’t internet pornography, misuse of funds, authoritarian leadership styles, or doctrinal error. The coming crisis is we soon won’t have enough pastors.”

Speaking to an audience of seminary students, faculty, staff, and special guests at the President’s Convocation on February 7, 2013, Dr. Iorg noted over the past decade there has been a consistently declining number of students who have enrolled at Golden Gate Seminary who checked “pastor” on the entrance survey as their ultimate ministry objective.

The president listed six reasons he believes many men are reluctant to become lead pastors or senior pastors. “Men tell me they have witnessed pastoral abuse and don’t want it to happen to them or their family. They have also seen dysfunctional church life and don’t want to waste their time with such nonsense,” Iorg noted. “Men also avoid pastoral ministry because they didn’t grow up in a church, perhaps coming to Christ as a college student, and they have never seen a model of a healthy pastor or pastoral family.”

“There are also three reasons I have observed,” he said. “Some men don’t want the spiritual responsibility. Delayed adolescence has infected young men who should already be church leaders. Second, our culture devalues aggressive leadership by men, and that is projected on the church.” The third observation Iorg made is “the ‘I love Jesus but hate the church’ mentality, which devalues the church and thus church leaders has confused many young men.”

Speaking from 1 Timothy 3:1-7, Iorg described the call to pastoral ministry as the highest leadership role in the kingdom of God. Iorg described the pastoral office as a significant calling, a noble task, a worthy goal, and a lofty office. “You can desire, aspire, aim for, or even be ambitious about becoming a pastor. Doing so isn’t demonstrating pride. It’s longing to serve in the most effective role possible.”

Iorg noted a pastoral call is a character calling. “The pastorate requires men of character (referencing verses 2f). It will test and develop your character. Pastors live in community, demonstrating Christian growth, modeling Christian family, standing against sin, and teaching true doctrine. Some men avoid the pastorate because it is a personal crucible – a refining fire God uses to purify motives and leach out hypocrisy.”

Iorg also advocated the pastoral calling as a family calling. “When a man is married, the pastorate requires a mutual call to ministry,” he explained. “The call to pastoral ministry is a partnership, which may involve different ministry marriage models, but always includes two people working together appropriately to provide pastoral ministry.” Iorg also spoke positively about the advantages of children being reared in a pastoral family. “Your family gets to go to work with you. They also get to know the best people on earth – church members. Your family can benefit from a flexible work schedule. Most importantly, your family gets to see God at work in ways other children simply don’t experience.”

Finally, Iorg underlined the pastoral calling is a community calling. “A pastor must have a good reputation with outsiders, meaning his community.” Using illustrations of African-American community activist pastors, as well as others who have served on school boards and other leadership roles, Iorg described the pastorate as an opportunity to influence an entire community.

Iorg concluded by issuing the call to pastoral ministry. “It’s a significant calling. It’s also a character calling, a family calling, and a community calling. I would like to ask you today to either ask God to call you to be a pastor, or ask him to give you a passion for supporting pastors in their call. This is a serious matter. The future health of mission boards, seminaries, and other ministries depends on strong churches. The quality of pastoral leadership will largely determine the future health of churches. So much depends on pastors.”

Click here to hear an audio version of this message