Pastor what’s your job? How we answer that will have a huge impact on how we spend our time. It will also shape how we preach and teach, especially how we apply the bible and what we describe as ministry. How would your elders answer that question? And how does that shape their, and your, expectations and practice?
I wonder what your church would say if you (dared) survey your members and asked what the job of the pastor or wider staff team was? It would be a really interesting survey, though I’m not sure we’d always like the answers.
I’ve been really struck over recent weeks as I’ve been studying Matthew 13 about Jesus descriptions of the kingdom and how he is helping disciples understand when they live. And what that means for how they should live. I’ve also still got fresh in my mind Ephesians 4v16, which says that those with word gifts use them to equip church members for works of ministry.
I wonder how much that would feature in the answers to that survey? I also wonder how much time we give to teaching that to our congregations. Ministry is not only what happens on Sunday. Rather what happens on Sunday is ministry to facilitate their everyday ministry in all of life. Sunday’s teaching should prepare and equip believers to live out their faith in every area of life every day. How much of our preaching, teaching and application reflects that sense of equipping for everyday godliness?
Too often it seems that the brightest and best are called out of the world to come and work in the church. Rather than the brightest and best being equipped in the church for ministry in school, in the staffroom, on the trading floor, as they make deliveries and serve customers, as they marry and parent and to it all to the glory of God.
It can be a painful experience to look back on the last 3 months sermons asking the question how did this teaching equip those who heard it for works of service where God has put them? How did it help them engage with the cultural issues of the moment? How did it help them see their work as Christ did, be it paid, unpaid, or voluntary work? How did it help them in the moments of crisis respond as God would call his people to? How are they being trained to respond to cultures trends in a way that balances truth and grace? Or have we defaulted to leaving that parachurch organisations that specialise in teaching for Christians in certain professions?
I wonder if we’ve drifted into a clericalism that sees real ministry as that done at church. That sees pastors and the church ministry team as the real ministers and everyone else merely as recipients. It doesn’t take a genius to see the problems with that and how blatantly unbiblical that is, and just how stupidly short sighted it is in terms of multiplying ministers. The law was designed to show every Israelite how to live for God’s glory responding to his gracious rescue in every area of life. Jesus does no less with his disciples, he is constantly teaching equipping and then sending them out. In Acts we see the Apostles ministry equipping an army of the extraordinary believers to minister in their homes, work and market places and that turns the world upside down.We gather together to hear God’s word so that we are equipped as we scatter to where Jesus has put us to live for his glory. If we really grasped that how would that change our working week? How would that change our application in our preaching and teaching? How would it transform our expectations and our prayers? How would it reshape the questions we ask our congregations?