Pastoral leadership in missions

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Pastoral Leadership in Missions

From a Biblical perspective all care and development of people is pastoral ministry. However, current usage (especially in mission circles!) tends to limit pastoral care to counselling dysfunctional people. This is why the term "personnel development" is sometimes used instead of "pastoral care". YWAM leaders seem to prefer "personnel development", but pastoral people generally don't like it much because it sounds too clinical.

Three Different Pastoral Giftings

While working with people called to a pastoral role in missions, three different giftings can be identified - sometimes they overlap, but often they require three different people. The presence of these people will have a major effect on morale and unity amongst a group of missionaries.

1. Pastoral Development

This gift has two areas of application:

  1. Individual: Encouraging the personal and spiritual growth of each of our staff people, including helping them develop their spiritual gifts and skills.
  2. Corporate: Encouraging the group dynamics of spiritual growth in our communities and teams. This involves functions such as:

2. Pastoral Counselling

These people are more specialised and have more developed counselling skills than the Pastoral Development people. They deal with counselling needs such as:

  • Stress and Burnout
  • Cross-cultural pastoral care
  • Family problems
  • Culture Shock, reverse culture shock, re-entry
  • Sickness

Some missionaries returning from service in traumatic situations need debriefing by specially trained counsellors. Also, because of the breakdown of relationships in society with resulting problems such as child abuse, homosexual tendencies, etc, the number of missionaries with these needs is increasing. So some counsellors need to be specially trained to cope with these dysfunctional needs that sometimes arise. But where possible, people with serious needs like these would best be referred to specialists outside the mission.

3. Pastoral Administration

There seems to be two types of administrators, project oriented ones or people oriented ones. Pastoral administrators must be people oriented. These are people that generally run our Personnel Departments. They deal with such things as:

Mission Leaders

The above ministries will be a major factor in developing the love and unity that Jesus said was a requirement for effective missions, (John13:35 & 17:20-23). They come under the general heading of the second commandment - to love one another. A leader may not have pastoral gifting, but he (or she) cannot abdicate from the second commandment, otherwise he may come under the judgements outlined in Ezekiel 34.

Every mission leader needs to be committed to the following aspects of pastoral ministry:

  1. Personally growing in ability to develop the people he leads. For many, this will mean that the pastoral development emphasis (outlined above) needs to be incorporated more into their understanding of leadership. Cf: Ephesians 4:12
  2. Although he may not be specifically gifted pastorally, he must ensure that the three functions of pastoral care (above) are taking place. He can delegate them, but not abdicate from them.
  3. That pastoral gifting is a vital part of every leadership team. He must ensure that a pastorally gifted person is on his team.

Paper by Barry Austin. Adopted by the Global Leadership Team, March 1995