Gerardo, a mechanic-pastor I met in Honduras, made a comment in passing that I found interesting: “The reason you need elders in your church is that they focus internally. Pastors, of course, are focused externally.”
The “of course” struck me. I asked him for clarification. He explained that the elders take care of the internal needs of the church, while the pastors help extend the church outward. It reminded me of the distinction we sometimes make between sodalic and modalic (outward and inward structures of the church).
That definition Gerardo was using makes a major difference. He just expected– as did everyone there– that pastors are the ones looking for the white fields, ripe for harvest. They are looking to the next village, the next place that needs the gospel. As they see people coming to Christ, they raise up pastoral leaders according to 2 Timothy 2:2. Evangelism, discipleship and leadership development are integrated in a multiplication chain.
What a difference it would make here if pastors actually spent a significant portion of their time reaching different places. The possibility reminds me of the old Methodist lay preachers… always pressing on to the next place to preach the gospel and see new churches raised up.