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If Jesus were your pastor

July 15, 2017 | by Jim Farrer

If Jesus were a new pastor candidate, many congregations might hesitate hiring Him. During some decades parishioners may have objected to his beard and long hair. Others may have claimed he had inadequate schooling. Still, others would have required more than three years of experience. At the interview, Jesus would have been forced to admit that his first hometown sermon got him run out of town and almost killed. (St. Luke 4:29) He would have had few family references as according to St. Mark 3:22 those closest to him thought that he had gone “out of his mind.”

Inexperienced Jesus

According to Homiletics senior writer Bob Kaylor, Jesus never ran a youth group nor led a stewardship campaign. In fact, he drove away one wealthy young man who wanted to join his ministry. (St. Mark 10:22) How would today’s budget committees react to that? Also, Jesus never oversaw a building project.

He never had to write a new sermon for almost every Sunday of the year and in some settings a Sunday evening sermon and a mid-week one as well. Jesus repeated many of his stories and homilies so that people could remember them. For the modern pastor, telling the same funny story more than once may result in questions about lack of creativity.

Not the most diligent worker

Modern day church boards would quickly discover that Jesus was not the hard worker they anticipated. Jesus kept the Sabbath and expected others to do the same. Often he was in prayer and unavailable. Even during the work week, he refused to be too busy. From St. Mark’s gospel, when more people lined up to be healed, Jesus took time out and intended to lead his disciples on a several day retreat. (6:31) At other times Jesus seemed unconcerned about his flock. During a sudden scary storm on the lake, Jesus was found taking a nap.

Candid and blunt

Many were drawn to Jesus. Some thought he was a kind of Superman. While he did not have X-ray vision, Jesus had deep insight and could discern people’s truthfulness and intentions often making them feel uncomfortable.

Jesus treated outsiders and castoffs with respect but at the same time could be very direct and mean to neighbors and friends. Jesus was asked to heal a child on her deathbed. Those gathered around to pray and mourn were told to go outside. (St. Mark 5:40 NLT) However, the verb in the Greek language is ekballo meaning that Jesus threw them out with force.

On the positive side, if hired, Jesus might attract a surge of visitors. He did preach to 5000 men in addition to women and children. However, most of them deserted him in the end. Perhaps they were put off by his blunt and direct manner. He warned them that they would suffer ridicule and persecution as they took up their crosses to follow him. (St. Luke 14:27)

Controversial ministries

Jesus delved into healing and casting out demons. Today a percentage of leaders in almost every denomination seek to cooperate with the Holy Spirit against the powers of evil, but a majority of church members are squeamish about participating in contentious deliverance sessions.

Toxic mix

Some congregations seek a cohesive group of people. Others appreciate diversity, but few would relish the toxic mix of Jesus’ twelve apostles. According to most experts, four of the twelve were from the underground, throat-slicing Zealot faction. Jesus also recruited two headstrong teenagers, James and John, possibly from the Sons of Thunder street gang. How do you think these got along with Bartholomew whose name can be connected to the Egyptian ruling class and with Matthew who had collected taxes for the hated Roman occupiers? Perhaps these two slept with one eye open.

Shocking, not respected

Most congregations want their pastor to be respected. However, Jesus fraternized with those whom the religious community called despicable. In St. Matthew 23 Jesus shocked their society and spirituality by calling the most devout people of his day blind guides and miserable frauds whose insides were full of dead brittle bones and putrefying flesh.

As Walter Wink asserts in Engaging the Powers (p.110), Jesus repudiated the values of every aspect of society, and every institution sought his death. At the crucifixion three or four women and perhaps John or Lazarus stood at the cross. Lazarus would have had little to fear; he had already died once.

Failure as a youth leader

Perhaps a congregation might risk hiring Jesus as a popular motivational youth worker. But instead of leading games during Vacation Bible School, he would likely escort a van of children to minister among the homeless. Instead of taking teenagers to a “cushy” conference, Jesus would likely encourage them to work in a refugee camp or in AIDS-infected Africa.

Jesus isn’t kidding

Yes, Jesus is the loving Savior who called his followers friends. However, at the same time Jesus claims to be Lord of every part of life and every universe as well. Jesus isn’t kidding around.


Jim Farrer

A broadly-trained church consultant, Jim Farrer is the founder of Vital Signs Church Consulting and a member of the Society for Church Consulting. A veteran of ministry positions in Canada and the U.S., he has trained leaders from 18 denominations and led seminars and coaching sessions nationwide. His articles have been published in the Journal of Evangelism and Missions and the Great Commission Research Journal. You can reach him by e-mailing revup1@yahoo.com or calling 814 629-5211.



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