‘Pastoral Care’: How (mis)using biblical words superspiritualises pragmatism

There's been a lot of discussion about how using 'worship' to talk specifically about the church meeting, or singing in church is unbiblical, and potentially unhelpful. It gives the church gathering and the singing more theological weight, and so more emotional weight and rhetorical weight, than they actually have.

Well the same is true of 'pastoral care'. In everyday usage 'pastoring' and 'pastoral care' refers to counselling, caring for people, responding skillfully and tactfully to problems that arise in the lives of people. It is relational practicality. Interpersonal skillfulness.

But when we use the biblical word pastoring/pastoral/pastor... then it sounds more spiritual and valuable, as if it is the higher ground.

So when we say of a minister  'he's not a great preacher but he's a great pastor', or 'he's not good at leadership but he's very pastoral', 'Im not into all this how-to, strategic stuff, I'm more into pastoral care', or 'let's consider this issue pastorally' it sounds pretty deep.

Why not rephrase these and see how they sound:

  • he's not a great preacher but he's great at relational practicalities,
  • he's not good at leadership but he's very skillful relationally,
  • I'm not into all this how-to strategic stuff, I'm more into how-to counselling stuff,
  • Let's consider this issue from the viewpoint of interpersonal issues.

Still all very good things. But no longer the superspiritual higher ground! :-)

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