Psalm 78:72
“So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.” (NASB)
“And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” (NIV)

This blog is a humble attempt to address the concept of pastoring. What is a pastor? A basic definition would be that a pastor is one called to be a shepherd, one that shepherds and leads his people (flock), with character (integrity of heart) and skills (skillful hands). I have been reflecting on this analogy of skillful shepherds ever since reading the book “Skilful Shepherds: Explorations in pastoral theology” by Derek Tidball for my Pastoral Theology and Ministry module in SBC.

Throughout my 3 years of studies at SBC, I have also been reflecting and developing my understanding of how a pastor exists in the modern 21st century. Should he/she exists in the church, or in society or in both? I believe that pastors today need to integrate theology and ministry, as well as engage with culture around them.

One cannot focus solely on theology and the Word, without becoming Pharisee-tical, theoretical, over-righteous, academic, high and dry, and irrelevant to society.

One cannot focus solely on ministry and the church, or we will just be fighting fires, addressing felt needs, feeding consumeristic mentalities, leading to shallow discipleship and Church-ianity.

One cannot focus solely on culture, without running the risk of becoming so contemporary, so relevant, so sensitive and tolerent to the average Joe, yet to the detriment of totally abandoning the foundations and pillars of the Christian faith, diluting the Word and gospel, becoming no different from a social enterprise.

There needs to be a balanced approach, and an integration and engagement of all 3 components, for one to be fully Bible-based, ministry-oriented, and culturally relevant. This is the challenge that all ministers and pastors face in the 21st century.

An excellent classic on preaching in the 20th century (along the lines of what has been discussed) is “Between Two Worlds” (1982) by John Stott. He coined the phrase that every pastor/preacher should go about each day with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. To be in the world but yet not of the world.