'The Church Is A Pasture Not A Business'

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at Abounding Grace Radio:

Choose Your Metaphors Carefully: The Church Is A Pasture Not A Business

35 years ago, when I began seminary, the “church growth” movement was hitting its stride. In a course taught by an adjunct professor with a Harvard MBA we were taught how be efficient just the way successful CEOs are. Later, in the church growth literature with which pastors and churches were then inundated (and, in some cases, still are), we were told that the old metaphors for ministry were old-fashioned and must be replaced. Instead of talking about sheep, pastures, and pastors (shepherds), we should begin thinking in more sophisticated, urban categories. Pastors were told to model themselves after Chief Executive Officers. I recall a pastor saying to me, “I’m not a pastor, I am a rancher.” That was a clever way to retain some of the agrarian flavor of the biblical language while turning the image on its head. We were supposed to infer that this “rancher” was too important and too busy overseeing the whole spread, to strain the metaphor, to look after individual head of livestock. Rather, like a successful rancher, he checks out his flock via helicopter and satellite. He has hired hands, who actually handle the livestock and their problems.