Bluring the Line

cloth-manPeople often say to me, “Your not like other pastors.” Honestly, I’m not quite sure how to take this… I think it’s a compliment. But I’m not exactly sure it is given that way. I think what people are trying to say is they think I should dress like that guy >>>> or they are saying,  “you portray yourself like a regular guy, not like a man of the cloth

Here is the reason that I take it as a compliment:

So the goal is to “Equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph 4:2).” I think if a pastor the people who make up his congregation to do the “work of the ministry” he has to de-professionalize himself. Here’s what I mean… The pastor should function so that the people who benefit from his ministry honestly believe that they can bestow the same ministry on others. This guy has to constantly be removing himself from the position of “minister” and inserting others there.

I don’t mean that the pastor/elder should live exactly the same lifestyle as the people in his church. In fact, his life should be noticeably distinct. He should be the guy who is living holy, advocating for righteousness and humbly walking with Jesus… but he should also be inviting other to join him in his distinction.

  • When a father comes to you with a young boy who wishes to make Jesus his Lord you have a chance to blur the line. Ask the father to explain the Gospel to his son… When this son believes, further blur the line by having the father baptize his son.
  • When your gone to a conference, preaching at another church or just on vacation… fight the temptation to  hire in your pulpit supply. Bring up a guy who has never preached. Make sure it’s a guy who loves Jesus and will study hard. Read his sermon before you leave, help him prepare… but let him preach.

You guys “of the cloth”… what are some of the ways that you have blured the line between shephard and sheep and how have you seen that work out?


  1. Reply
    Michael says

    Before answering your question, I must have a bit of fun with the “man of the cloth” thing. I’ve always hated that term and never knew where it came from. When someone mentions that to me I’m always wondering in my mind, “Handkerchief or loin cloth?” Your link was quite helpful for me.

    How do I blur the line? The main thing I do right now is work hard to maintain a presence outside of the church. Most ministers are known nowhere except for inside their church, and that’s a shame. From May ’07 through January ’08 I put food on the table by working at our local marina and washing boats on the side. That experience changed my life and there was no way I was going to give that up completely, so I keep one boat that I wash each week and then I help with a charter boat every night during fishing season. The money is nice, but seeing the people is even better. During the fishing season, my entire family is on the docks every night at 6pm rain or shine to welcome the big charter boat in. I help them unload and get ready to turn around the next day. There are always a lot of people there to see the catch of the day so it keeps me in touch with all of those people. By seeing me work hard and be a regular guy, it shows people I’m not the typical preacher that they are used to.

    Many doors have opened for me as a minister by way of doing all of this. I’ve been made the chaplain of the local yacht club, done a wedding and a funeral, been called for council and advice from unchurched people, and have seen previously unchurched people become involved in our church. All of this excites and encourages my regular church members, but also shows them I am serious and am practicing what I tell them by not hiding from culture but being involved in it as a missionary.

  2. Reply
    Colby Garman says

    Thanks for putting that idea into words. As someone who likes to pay close attention to what you are up to, I have seen how you put this commitment into action and I think your church is better for it. One of the ways we can blur the line is by how we minister to the body in times of need, like illness or other hardship. In churches this is often seen as a job of the Pastors and not the work of the body. Helping set the expectations for the church during the lesser needs will prepare the whole church to join together in ministering to the deeper needs.

  3. Reply
    Phillip says

    thought I am not “a man of the cloth” yet, I do say..AMEN!!! keep blurring the line, keep living a life devoted to the Savior and keep challenging others to do so by showing them they can do it and don’t have to dress like that guy! Keep on keepin on!

  4. Reply
    chrisrhodenhizer says

    right on clint, i am striving to have our men preach more!!!

  5. Reply
    clintclifton says

    Thanks guys. Michael… Cool story, thanks for sharing that.

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