As a result of a defective system of pastoral care for the ministers' corps of the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) by the denomination, ministers are often left to their own resources and consequently experience isolation. Because of developments in society and the church, they exist and function more and more on the periphery of the lives of people and of society. With some ministers, this results in an alienation from their vocation and uncertainty about how this vocation should be realised in specific circumstances and contexts.
From this, the following research hypothesis was formulated :
When the DRC appoints pastors pastorum as an essential component of a comprehensive and holistic approach to the pastoral care of the minister, ministers will fulfil their vocation with renewed self-confidence, improved competence and greater authority.
The DRC functions according to the presbyterial synodical system of church government. Weaknesses in the system have a negative effect especially on pastors who have attained an exceptionally important position in the system. The system of corporate episcopes is inadequate in current circumstances.
It is essential to supplement the system of corporative episcope with a system of personal episcope.
The term "pastor" is preferred to that of "minister" or "reverend". The profile of the pastor is described in terms of the triangle : person, office and profession. The vocation of the pastor is considered to be fundamental to this triangle.
The pastoral care of pastors comprises the totality of activities provided by the entire church in order to, by means of a personal episcope (thus officially), communicate the gospel to the pastor in all facets of his humanity and, by utilising all possible aids, to enable the pastor to fulfill his vocation with renewed self-confidence, authority and competence.
The ministry of the pastor pastorum should be founded upon the metaphor of the Shepherd.