Pastor as Shepherd-Teacher: Insiders' Stories of Pastoral and Educational Imagination

From: Volume 10, Issue 1: Spring 2013, Technological Innovation & Educational Ministry Pages 48-71

Abstract

The role of pastors in vibrant churches is established in the literature, but the nature of their influence as shepherd-teachers has not been probed. This case study looks at how a senior-pastor shaped congregational culture, impacting educational vision and adult faith formation at a Congregational church in New England. Through careful listening to stories of pastors and church members and participation in various faith events, the researcher sought insider perspectives to the research question. The study revealed an effective pastor as a servant shepherd-leader who has earned the trust of his congregation over many years and who possesses a pastoral imagination to respond appropriately to unique faith contexts. The study also suggests that an effective pastor is an adaptive shepherd-teacher who views faith formation as integrated within the total life of the congregation ad creatively shapes core ministries into faith-forming experiences. This ethnographic study, applied in congregational contexts, emphasizes the importance of Christian education in the theological curriculum for the formation of shepherd-teachers. It also teaches seminary students that effective pastoral ministry always begins with attending to the rich and textured stories of the people they serve.
Key Words: pastors, ethnography, theological education, educational leadership, congregational culture

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