Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What is that you do?

Over the years I've had several people ask me, just what it is that pastors do. To be honest, most people are just plain clueless! As one smart alex said, "how hard can it be, you only work one day a week!" First, let me say that I love being a pastor. There is nothing else in the world that I want to do, or can imagine myself doing. I am humbled that God would chose a sinful, weak, and undeserving man like to me to preach the Gospel and lead God's church. I am passionate about it, I love it, and I hope to continue preaching and pastoring until I'm dead or too old or sick to step up to the pulpit.

But, again, what is it that pastors do? That question has to be defined by Scripture. If we allow culture or the church growth movement to define it we will lose it. We will lose the biblical ministry of a pastor, that is. We may retain the title, but the true Biblical office will be lost.
So what does the Bible teach about pastoring?

Dr. Jim Shaddix uses the word pastor as an acrostic to spell out the work of the ministry. I've taken what he wrote and changed it somewhat.

P- Prayer
A - Administer the Vision
S - Shepherd the flock
T - Teach the Word
O - Outreach and evangelism
R - Reproduce myself

P - Prayer - The pastor simply must be a man of prayer in Acts 6:4 - the apostles stated that their duty was to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

A - Administer the Vision- The pastor is the overseer of the church. He provides the leadership and the vision the Church needs to fulfill the great commission. In fact, the church's vision has already been given to us by Christ in Matthew 28 - "Go, therefore and make disciple." The pastor is called to creatively communicate and administrate that vision on all levels of church life. Dr. Shaddix writes: One of the synonyms for the pastor in the New Testament is bishop, or overseer. As the pastor, I’m responsible for overseeing the ministry of the church. It’s my task to make sure that the church is fulfilling its mission as the people of God and that all the parts are working in a cooperative effort effectively and efficiently. I’m responsible for mobilizing the membership to care for one another as well as reaching out to others. And I’ve got to make sure that it’s all being done with biblical integrity, moral purity, as well as financial responsibility.

S - Shepherd - Of all the titles and metaphors used to describe spiritual leadership, the most fitting is that of a shepherd. The shepherd cares for the sheep, he protects the sheep, and feeds the sheep. God's people must be cared for. Crisis times such as sickness or death are vital moments of ministry for the pastor. Before they can be lead, the flock must know they are cared for.

T - Teach the Word - The pastor's primary responsibility is to preach the word of God. Paul commanded Timothy to "Preach the Word, both in season and out." The lion's share of a pastor's time must go the preparation and delivery of expository sermons.

O- Outreach - Paul instructed Timothy to "do the work of an evangelist." The pastor absolutely must have a heart for outreach and evangelism. The church's passion for evangelism is determined by the pastor. He is the pace setter and the model that people will follow. Both in the pulpit, in weekly visitation, and day by day witnessing the pastor must be a soul-winner.

R - Reproduce myself - Paul commanded young Timothy "the things you have heard from me . . . commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." Developing Godly leadership is vital to the future of the church.

There is really only an overview, but I hope it will give you a glimpse into my (and I think a Biblical) philosophy of pastoral ministry.

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