Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Bishops needed now more than ever. . .
For too long we have minimized the importance and the essential character of ecclesiastical supervision and instead emphasized administrative competence and a coaching role for those who are assigned episcopal ministry. That has been to our poverty. We do not need bishops to serve as politicians, managers, administrators, counselors, visionary leaders, or coaches. We need bishops who act like bishops -- people who teach, shepherd, watch over, hold accountable, and, if and when necessary, discipline those within their charge. You can quibble about the title bishop (as I am sure some commenters will) but the essential role and responsibility of bishops must be handled faithfully by those to whom it is assigned or the church (no matter the denomination) will be disfunctional and chaotic. The administrative and managerial roles of the institutions can well be handled by laymen and lay women who have both skills and commitment to the faith and the church. We need bishops who know the parishes and the pastors and who watch over the flocks within their care for the good of both parish and pastor.
The same, of course, is true in the parish. We suffer because for so long pastors have either been told or decided to be something other than pastors (life coaches, visionary leaders, encouragers, counselors, inspirational or motivational personalities, etc.) that our people have forgotten what it means to have a pastor as much as the churches (speaking in broad terms here) have forgotten what it means to be a pastor. We have minimized the pastoral responsibilities and lumped them off on others to make time and room for duties that are never mentioned in Paul's descriptions to Timothy and Titus or hinted at in the NT. We are in danger of having sheep without shepherds, vulnerable to being prey for the wolves, or starving for lack of solid food from the means of grace. We certainly do not need pastors to be counselors, administrators, board chairmen, facilitators, vision casters, or whatever to the neglect of their priestly, liturgical, and sacramental calling as servants of Christ. In the end, we need people to be faithful to their particular callings at all levels of the clergy and among the lay, within all the domains in which they live and work.
Might it be a good time for us to spend refreshing ourselves on the Table of Duties?