Frye on Defining “Pastoring”

Here’s his definition of pastoring: “Pastoring offers and shapes an alternative reality in Jesus the Christ so that others reconnect with God as his new people for the sake of all creation.”… Last post, I talked about how the community of Jesus’ students, known as the Church, must be engaged in Jesus’ mission, or what Jason Evans calls “finding the redemptive potential” in ordinary life.

Several years ago, when I was going through my spiritual paradigm shift about what it means to be Jesus’ student, I read a great book called Jesus the Pastor by John Frye. Along with the other books I was reading at the time, this one really challenged me to rethink (i.e. repent) my understanding of pastoring.

For years I had been caught up in the modern evangelical notion that the pastor was the CEO of a Christian organization. I was immersed in activities of administration, church growth, strategizing, maintaining a busy church calendar, etc. I was also involved in other “pastoral duties” such as teaching, counseling and worship leading. But even those activities were defined by, what I’ve now come to realize as a distorted view of pastoring.

Today, through Scot McKnight’s blog, I stumbled onto John Frye’s blog. Here’s his definition of pastoring:

Pastoring offers and shapes an alternative reality in Jesus the Christ so that others reconnect with God as his new people for the sake of all creation.”



That’s awesome! Last post, I talked about how the community of Jesus’ students, known as the Church, must be engaged in Jesus’ mission, or what Jason Evans calls “finding the redemptive potential” in ordinary life. In this way, the Church is a missional community.

But the members of the missional community are to be nurtured and led by shepherds or pastors. These men and women offer and shape an alternative reality in Jesus Christ. They give vision for finding the “redemptive potential” by helping the missional community imagine life in God’s New Creation. And they turn this imagination of an alternate reality into something substantial by reconnecting others with God, each other and creation in reconciling and redemptive ways.

I love what Frye states toward the end of his post. He says that all the activities of the pastor:

“…point to something so much greater; something literally cosmic: the renewal of heaven and earth. Don’t ever divorce Revelation 1-3 from 4-22. It all began with Jesus and it continues on. Pastors live in and lead, speak, and invite from an alternative reality (as Jesus did) while engulfed in a cracked reality. While not uncracked themselves, pastors nevertheless live on what the Bible calls “Shalom.” Pastors breathe shalom air even in cracked lungs. They see shalom sights with cracked eyes. They hear shalom music with somewhat still dull ears. They challenge all non-shalom issues because those issues are obstacles in finding the doorway into the kingdom of God. Isn’t this more compelling than managing the corner religious shop?”



Ultimately, God’s New Creation, the vision of the renewed heavens and earth, is what fuels the missional community.

2 thoughts on “Frye on Defining “Pastoring”

  1. Thanks for posting that!

    I have been struggling with the warped version of pastoring for years myself. Although the struggle has been one of rejecting it and being seen as an upstart and a non-team player.

    BTW I have come to loath the word TEAM applied to Church and Kingdom work. Team smacks of sports and business and i know very few team players who would lay their life down for their team or business or any of its members.

    In the Church we are called to lay our lives down for Christ and each other.

    Rarely see that though because Evangelical Church has been in love with team and business approach for so long it has infected the whole shebang thoroughly.

    cheers Joseph Ottawa Canada

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