Friday, April 30, 2010

Expectations, Fears, and Hopes: Part 2

This is part two in a series of post that I've been thinking about lately in respect to the expectations of pastors. You can read Part One here.

After talking about what I've seen in my limited exposure to churches (primarily in the SBC), I now want to look at the side I'm a little more familiar with. In this post I want to briefly look at the expectations many pastors have on themselves for the church. Before I do, however, I also want to say that while I think this observation is true, I also think there is a growing movement towards a more balanced ministry approach.

I see often times pastors fit in one of two scenarios. The first goes back to what I've heard from several church members in various churches, "Our Senior Pastor is a pastor, but not really a preacher." In other words, he loves us, visits us, cares for us, but doesn't really bring the Word very well. The reason many churches (though not all) feel this way, I think, is because of the way the pastor sees his 'job' before them. I know many pastors who think that is exactly what the people want, therefore that is what they focus on. In these cases pastors often neglect the ministry of the Word and attempt to justify it by saying that the people are most important and that Jesus cared about people. Certainly Jesus cared about people. Certainly people are important. Christ died to purchase 'people' from every tribe and language and people and nation. However, a pastor who places the expectations on himself of being a good 'pastor' without being a good 'preacher' has missed a very important aspect of his calling to the church! We'll examine it more later, but when there arose a need to minister to the widows in Acts 6 the apostles said it wasn't right for them to give up their ministry of the Word and prayer.

The second that I have seen is a reaction to this one. These pastors see that their main calling (and rightfully so) as a pastor is to shepherd the flock through the ministry of the Word. However, often times they think this means that we only prepare sermons in our study so we can preach better sermons. Please do not misunderstand what I am saying there. Preaching is absolutely important! The Lord's Day gathering is crucial for the church and the preaching of the Word must be central to that gathering. The problem is that the ministry of the Word goes beyond that. As I said in part one of this series, the visiting and other aspects of pastoral ministry are important. They are important because they are times of ministering the Word of God to others. The ministry of the Word is not only through public teaching, but also through private teaching. Where I see many of these pastors going wrong is when they neglect actually trying to help their people grow in Christ by getting to know them, holding them accountable, discussing the Bible with them, and encouraging them (even exhorting them!) to get in the Word more.

One of the greatest books on this subject is The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter. Pastors need to examine the Scriptures (which I'll attempt to do in part 3) and see what expectations God has for them in this office. Pastors are called to shepherd the flock that God has given them. This is not something to take lightly brothers. God has placed us in positions that are vitally important to the health of the church, which Christ died to purchase!

My answer based on what I believe the Bible teaches is that this is not an either/or situation. God calls elders/pastors to minister His Word to those who belong to Christ so that they might know Him better and be conformed into His image.

No comments: