May 30, 2006

Pastor, how many are you running?

In my many years of visiting churches and speaking with pastors, I have repeatedly heard this figure of speech "Pastor, how many are you running"?

Some pastors use this phrase to let others know the number of members they have in their congregations.

I don't like this particular figure of speech and never have. Sounds like we men and women are reduced to a herd of cattle when we are referred to in this way.

But pastors don't seem to get it that this way of speaking is offensive to those being referred to - their congregations.

So I have an idea, why don't you pastors use a better one.

How about, "Pastor, how many souls do you have the over site of?"

We are told in the bible that shepherds (pastors) are those who are given the tremendous task of looking after our souls. I see many references to this in the bible, here are a few:

A charge from Paul to the Elders at Ephesus:

Acts 20:28

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

1 Peter 5:

2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

We are men and women, not a herd of cattle.

Ezekiel 34:31:

And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord GOD.

And just for the record: The only references to "herd" in the new testament are those pertaining to a "herd" of swine running down a steep place into a lake, and being choked after the evil spirits that were cast out of a possessed man had went into them:

Luke 8:33

Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked.

Now please understand that I didn't say that the pastors are intending to be offensive if they use this term, but nonetheless many don't appreciate hearing it.
I have offered an alternative, at least I am not complaining without offering suggestions.

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