The Pastor Has No Clothes
"We are mortgaging our spiritual future on a bankrupt concept"
The early church did not have it. None of the apostles ever held the job. In fact, it appears nowhere in the New Testament.
Now, author Jon Zens states what undoubtedly has occurred to many Christians: the role of the "pastor" needs to be reconsidered.
In his new book, The Pastor Has No Clothes! Moving from Clergy-Centered Church to Christ Centered Ekklesia, Zens observes that the non-biblical office of pastor has grown via tradition into a hindrance both to church congregations and the pastors themselves.
It surely is not what our Lord had in mind.
Most church-goers are well aware that only a minority of members are active beyond attending weekly services. Almost universally, the modern institution is a "spectator church."
But when Jesus said he would build his "church" he used the secular word ekklesia to refer to the body of believers, which Zens explains was similar to our concept of a town meeting.
"Ekklesia was used about 100 times in the Greek translation of the New Testament to translate the Hebrew word qualal, which referred to the Israelite 'assembly'... The body of Christ is to be a Spirit-led setting where kingdom business can be acted upon.
"In light of what ekklesia really entails, popular conceptions of 'church' are dangerously limited to coming to a building, singing, putting some money in a plate, hearing a sermon, and going home."
Listen to Jon Zens explain why "The Pastor Has No Clothes!" (especially the second half of the video) and how most churches have evolved into something with a different focus than early Christian practice.
Too often, the pastor-centric model results in a feckless flock characterized by laity malaise, a flaccid community of believers waiting for a person to “feed” them and goad them into religious activities.
Zens' book is a call to return to the biblical design "where Christ is the head and everyone has a role to work as a part of the body, both leaders and developing believers. The early church didn’t have useless functions like usher, special music and Sunday school attendance; which have nothing to do with the maturing of the saints ... The early church was more like a basic training camp where people were all functional and/or training towards it."
While his vision of a participatory Christian community replacing the spectator church could change what "church" is all about - especially in the minds of young people uninspired by the traditional model - Zens also has a prescription for re-imagining the role of clergy.
Indeed, the modern office of pastor can be none too healthy for the pastors themselves. Christ never instituted an individual position to bear the burden of His flock's corporate salvation. When Paul chastised the church at Corinth, he never mentioned their "leaders" as having failed in their responsibilities.
Some troubling facts from a 2010 survey:
1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month in the USA because of unique pressures associated with the job.
80 percent of seminary and Bible school graduates entering the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
70 percent felt God called them to pastoral ministry, but after three years of ministry only 50 percent still felt called.
80 percent of pastors and 84 percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles.
80 percent of pastors' spouses wish the pastor would choose another profession.
The majority of pastors' spouses said the most destructive event in their marriage and family was the day the pastor entered the ministry.
"The Pastor Has No Clothes!" takes a major step toward removing the segregation of pulpit and pew. It is a valuable, timely book that should be considered must reading for both preachers and congregations, and both regular church-goers and those not quite in sync with the modern church concept.
What others are saying about "The Pastor Has No Clothes":
Make no mistake. Though irenic in spirit, the truth Jon presents does what truth is supposed to do: it cuts. Vested interests will feel the sting. Those oppressed by vested interests will feel the liberty.
- Stephen Crosby, author of "Praise, Worship and the Presence of God," North Carolina
As a pastor of the largest evangelical congregation in northwestern Oklahoma, one might think I could possibly be threatened by Jon's premise in this book. How can I be? "The Pastor Has No Clothes" is thoroughly biblical and a wake up call to all of us pastors who have forgotten that every believer in Christ is a priest unto Him and that the only authority within the church is Christ's.
- Wade Burleson, Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma
Jon Zens has written one of the most important books of the 21st century. If you thought "Pagan Christianity" was controversial, think again. Jon's book demonstrates beyond dispute that the clergy-system (in the form of the modern pastorate) is not only unbiblical but also contrary to the headship of Jesus Christ. I hope that every Christian reads this volume with an open heart and mind, especially those who deem themselves "leaders" in the body of Christ. I applaud Jon for his courage in adding another Scripture-based book to help foment the growing revolution that God has begun today - a revolution designed to give His church back to His beloved Son.
- Frank Viola, author of "Revise Us Again," "From Eternity to Here," "Jesus Manifesto," "Pagan Christianity"
Jon describes how the current structure of the institutional church has created over time an unhealthy balance in the body of Christ. He challenges us to look at the pastoral system in light of the way the New Testament early church functioned. A must-read and insightful book!
- Joseph Hunter, former pastor, Tennessee
This book addresses the fine points of the pastor-centric paradigm, uncovering numerous ways the headship of Jesus Christ is inadvertently usurped amid a Christian culture of hero-worship of religious celebrity. For those who have ears to hear, Jon Zens' words have the ability to breathe new hope and fire into the lives of those dedicated souls who love the church, but have far too long been carrying the weight of it on their shoulders.
- Dr. Stephanie Bennett, Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Palm Beach Atlantic University, W. Palm Beach, Florida
In this book Jon Zens has taken dead aim at the most sacred cow of all within institutional Christianity - the Pastorate. He does this with a precise biblical scholarship, and with a keen eye for details. No stone is left unturned in this study of this most unscriptural yet most popular role and practice ... Never before have I read such a biblically and experientially accurate treatment of the subject.
- Milt Rodriguez, author of "The Priesthood of All Believers, The Temple Within and the Butterfly in You"
ARE WE REALLY DOING CHURCH "BY THE BOOK"?
Pagan Christianity? Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
Have you ever wondered why we Christians do what we do for church every Sunday morning? Why do we “dress up” for church? Why does the pastor preach a sermon each week? Why do we have pews, steeples, choirs, and seminaries?
This volume reveals the startling truth: most of what Christians do in present-day churches is not rooted in the New Testament, but in pagan culture and rituals developed long after the death of the apostles. Coauthors Frank Viola and George Barna support their thesis with compelling historical evidence in the first-ever book to document the full story of modern Christian church practices.
One of the most troubling outcomes of the modern church model has been the effect on average believers: turning them from living expressions of Christ's glory and power to passive observers. If you want to see that trend reversed, turn to Pagan Christianity? ... a book that examines and challenges every aspect of our present-day church experience.
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