In recent weeks, I’ve run across a new phenomenon in church leadership. It is that of the long-distance Pastor. As in, the person with the title of Pastor jets back and forth every week between his/her home in City A and his/her employer, a church in city B. These people tend to be the Communicators – the magnetic Sunday morning teachers who draw the crowds, or the gifted high-level strategists working behind the scenes.
For years, conference speakers, traveling teachers and evangelists have lived their ministry on the road, returning home to recharge before launching out again. Before that, there were circuit riders going from frontier congregation to frontier congregation, preachin’ `n marryin’ `’ buryin’. And wayyyy back before that, Acts tells the story of people traveling to preach the gospel and plant/oversee widespread congregations.
This new breed of traveling pastors seems to have more in common with business execs (hired hands) who do this live-in-Boston-work-in-New York lifestyle, however, than they do with, say, circuit riders. Without either demonizing the A to B and back again pastors or romanticizing circuit riders, I find myself wondering how the title ‘Pastor’ applies here.
It is the perogative of these large corporate religious organizations to recruit and hire top drawer talent, I suppose. I just wish they would give them a different title. I can’t imagine how anyone could fully “Pastor” people when he or she spends part of each week living several hundred miles away from the community in which the church is located, and all that energy maintaining a life in two places. (Really, how can you be two places at once when you’re not anywhere at all?) I have a couple of dozen questions floating around in my head on this trend, flitting in and out through the images of mustard seeds and fig trees tattooed on my brain.
But maybe these flitting thoughts need to land on one of your ideas. Your thoughts? Am I missing something here? Any experience with this phenomenon?