Resolution on Pastoral Ministry (Mennonite Brethren Church, 1978)
Resolution on Pastoral Ministry (MB, 1978)
Though we recognize that all believers are to ministry, some are called to special services such as pastor. A call to the pastorate is a call to excellent and rewarding work. It is a call to leadership modeled after the shepherding ministry of Christ.
The local church needs to recognize its responsibility in the calling, strengthening, and relocation of pastors. The pastor's effectiveness in ministry is just as much the responsibility of the church as the church's well-being is the responsibility of the pastor.
Generous opportunities need to be provided by the congregation for young men who maybe prospective pastors to minister in non-threatening situations so that gifts can be discovered and refined.
When a church calls a pastor, attention needs to be given to his understanding of the Mennonite Brethren heritage, functioning of the denominational family, and brotherhood loyalties. To insure perseverance and avoid casualties in the pastoral ministry, an evaluative process needs to be adopted by the church and pastor to insure an early and non-threatening warning system through which frequent indications of the pastor's effectiveness are constructively shared. The effectiveness of pastoral ministry should be improved through sharing of work with those having appropriate gifts in team ministry. When pastoral changes are made, care should be exercised in making such transitions without damage or loss of respect to either pastor or congregation.
Causes of pastors leaving the ministry vary and rest with both congregation and pastor. These are often related to unreasonable expectations.
Therefore we wish to affirm the following in the spirit of Galatians 6:6:
"Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things."
- We reaffirm that God has given gifts to the church which need to be discovered, developed, and applied. Broad involvement in ministry is essential so that many can experience the satisfaction and personal growth that comes from rendering meaningful service and so that the local church strengthens its own reservoir of human resource.
- We recognize that premature termination of ministry is caused by a combination of factors. Congregations and their leaders need to sense areas in which the pastor and his family will be in need of extra support and understanding and respond accordingly.
- We urge congregations to provide the necessary time and means for the pastor and his wife to be involved in study leaves and opportunities for personal and professional growth.
- Communication between congregation and pastor requires an ongoing evaluation of a pastor's ministry as well as that of the entire church so that the termination of the pastor's term of service is not a hurtful and destructive experience. Whatever procedure is adopted, to come to that point must not degenerate to an exercise in manipulation or dishonesty. Procedures need to be such that a confidence vote, if used, is only an affirmation of what the pastor and congregation already know.
Yearbook, 54th session, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, August 3-6, 1978. Winnipeg? : Kindred Press?, 1978: 10-12.