Monday, June 27, 2011

The Five Types of Pastors

An acquaintance of mine, Fr. John Peck, contributes to a very interesting blog entitled "Good Guys Wear Black." The blog is designed to help those discerning vocation in the Orthodox church. I am intrigued by the site because I don't think the Episcopal Church has anything quite like it as a resource for potential Ordinands.

While a lot of the articles are geared specifically for life and theology in the Orthodox church and are not really applicable to my context, occasionally there are some excellent articles that are more universal. Father Peck wrote this one entitled "The 5 Types of Pastors" a few days ago, and I think it is highly valuable. It references the work found here on Ministry's Best Practices website.

I like it because I think these five categories are pretty standard across denominations, and I think the Episcopal church ordination process at its worst often breeds the worst qualities of a few of these archetypes as future clergy. I note particularly the "Catalytic pastor" type, i.e. the one that immediately wants to come into a parish and "shake things up" just for the sake of shaking things up because its "being prophetic." (As a side note, I shudder at the use of the term "being prophetic" because biblical prophets never self identified as prophets.)

As with all paradigms, most pastors probably do not fit neatly into one category across the board, but have elements of two or more, depending on the situation. I do like them though because I think it can be a useful tool to gauge how well you are doing as a pastor and what you might need to work on to break out of your comfort zone.

The flip side is that there is danger of such paradigms because, like Meyers-Briggs or Family Systems theory or whatever contrived groupthink is all the buzz in seminary circles, people want to treat it as either a crystal ball that's going to solve all your conflicts or problems or else use the paradigm as a cop out. In other words, a priest can say, well I'm just a "conflict quelling" type pastor, so don't expect me to do any of that "catalytic pastor" stuff. "That's just the way I am." The purpose of such paradigms is to stretch you to become more, not lock you into one and only one way of being a pastor.

See what you think...

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