How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 4

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(3) A pastor must consistently use his God-given spiritual gifts

In verse 14 Paul tells Timothy,

“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Ti 4:14)

Now we aren’t sure what gift Paul is talking about here. It is something that relates to pastoral ministry, so it is probably teaching, discernment, leadership, care, or something of the like. The problem is that Timothy has neglected his God-given gift that others have affirmed. Because he has neglected this gift, he hasn’t been ministering in the way Paul knows he can. So Paul invites Timothy to remember, so that he will be encouraged and motivated to do what he has been sent there to do — to denounce false teaching and grow the church spiritually in Ephesus.

Just as Timothy was to use his spiritual gifts, pastors are to use their spiritual gifts for the upbuilding of the church that God has placed them over. Which means that a pastor has to first know what his spiritual gifts are. And then he has to make sure that he is consistently utilizing those gifts to their fullest potential.

Again the church has to expect, encourage, and allow that to happen, because that is the way God is using that man to build the church.

(4) A pastor must consistently concentrate on his own spiritual growth

Again, Paul says to Timothy starting in verse 15,

“Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching.” (1 Ti 4:15-16a)

The word “Practice” denotes both hard thinking and doing. “Immerse” means to give yourself to, so that you are completely consumed. Combining these two ideas, we learn that Paul wants Timothy not only to think hard about what he is telling him but to do it as well, giving his whole self to the task at hand. If Timothy does what Paul is suggesting, he will grow spiritually.

Timothy’s spiritual growth will not only be good for himself, but for the church as well. A stagnant shepherd often results in stagnant sheep, which means that pastors have to consistently concentrate on their own spiritual growth.

Now, you may think it sounds funny to say that pastors have to concentrate on their own spiritual growth. After all, pastors are supposed to be professional Christians who are privileged to study the Word of God on a consistent basis. I don’t know about the professional Christian part, but it is true that pastors are privileged to consistently study God’s Word.

Even though pastors are privileged to consistently study Scripture, that doesn’t mean they are always growing spiritually. There is a difference in communing with God through the Scriptures and prayer, and studying to preach a sermon, teach a Bible study, or provide counsel. It is easy to slip into a professional mindset that allows you to divorce your life from what you are studying.

So pastors have to be careful. They too have to concentrate on growing spiritually. They can’t allow the demands of the pastorate to take away from their time with the Lord. And the congregation not only has to expect and encourage him to practice the spiritual disciplines, but they also have to allow their pastor the time.

You see, we are all in this together. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all a part of a church family. As such, we have to watch out and care for, as well as we have to help one another grow in the Lord. And your pastor has to be included in that as well.

Don’t think just because he is preaching to you every week that he’s doing well spiritually. That he’s consistently growing. As a pastor, there are times when I’m not growing as I would like, just like there are times when you aren’t. So you need to pray for your pastor, encourage him. You need to minister to him, just as he seeks to minister to you. Doing so will help him consistently grow spiritually.

Next Time

Over the last several posts I have explored the things that a pastor should do and the church should expect, encourage, and allow. In my last post, we are going to explore what the benefit of a pastor consistently practicing these fundamentals and the congregation expecting, encouraging, and allowing him to do so are?

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you encouraging your pastor spiritually?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 3

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(2) A pastor must consistently devote himself to right worship.

Paul tells Timothy in verse 13,

“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Ti 4:13)

The actions Paul mentions are all centered around the public worship service. At a minimum, then, these elements should be a part of every worship service. Of course, other things are going to be included in the weekly worship service, such as the taking of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, prayer, and congregational singing, along with fellowshipping with one another. But at a minimum Scripture should be read, the congregation should be exhorted or encouraged to do God’s will, and God’s Word should be taught. If these things aren’t happening, then you need to make it a priority to include them. If you don’t, you may be gathering, but you may not be worshipping.

I believe Paul’s commands to Timothy are just as important for our time, as it was for Timothy’s time. We are often tempted to gain spiritual enlightenment through other means, but we are not going to commune with God, grow in our faith, or learn how to live for God without going to the source, which is His Word. And it is to His Word that we must go. In his second letter to Timothy Paul says,

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Ti 3:16–17)

I believe Paul makes it clear here that God’s Word is all we need for life and godliness. Pastors have to believe that if they are going to center the public worship service on God’s Word. As well as the church has to expect, encourage, and allow that, so that it will take place.

Indeed, God’s Word is all we need for life and godliness. We must buy into that idea. And we must center our public worship services on it.

Next Time

Next time we will explore another thing pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you desire right worship?

Resources

Image

Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 2

What should pastors do and what should the church expect, encourage, and allow?

I believe the best way to answer that question is to ask: what are some of the fundamentals that Scripture gives for pastors to practice?

(1) A pastor must consistently practice right speech, right living, and right affections

Paul says in verse 12 of 1 Timothy 4,

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Ti 4:12)

Here Paul calls Timothy to be an example to the believers in his congregation. In order to be an example, he has to consistently practice certain things. Paul tells him first that he has to set an example through:

Right speech

He can’t just say whatever he wants, however, and whenever he wants to say it. His speech has to always be in line with God’s Word. And it must consist of wise words that serve to build others up. The tongue is powerful, as James makes us aware in chapter 3 of his letter when he says,

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (Jas 3:7–10)

So pastors have to be able to control their tongue, showing others that it’s possible.

Not only should a pastor set an example through right speech, but he should also set an example through:

Right living

Paul brings up the ideas of conduct, love, faith, and purity in these verses. What he is telling us is that a pastor has to be someone who conducts himself in line with God’s Word. He must love others, be faithful and trustworthy, and operate with integrity. These must be the characteristics that a pastor possesses so that he can be an example to others.

Along with right speech and right living, a pastor must also set an example through:

Right affections

He must not only have a love for others, but he must also have a love for God. A love for God that is stronger than the things of this world. You see, we are good at making idols and worshipping those idols to the neglect of God. But that should not be so. God tells us in the 10 commandments that we should have no other gods before Him. In other words, we shouldn’t worship anyone or anything else but God.

The only way that we are going to be able to crush our idols and give God the worship that He commands, is if our love for Him is greater than our love for the things of this world. The way we increase our love for God is by meditating on who He is and what He has done for us. What He has done for us is save us. Wretched, vile, rebellious sinners have been saved by God. He saves by giving up His only Son to die in our place.

Imagine giving up your only son to die in the place of a terrorist, a child molester, a rapist, a murderer, or a serial killer who is sitting on death row. That is unheard of. No one in their right mind would do that, except for God. He has given His only Son so that a vile, wretched, rebellious people may be saved. Meditating on that truth. Realizing who God is and what He has done for us should draw our affections away from the things of the world to God.

A pastor must set an example for his congregation in that his affections must be directed towards God and not the things of this world, which he accomplishes by consistently meditating on the truth of God’s Word, and specifically the gospel message.

So we see that a pastor must be someone who is leading out in right speech, right living, and right affections. The church should not only expect that from their pastor, but they should do all they can to encourage these things.

Next Time

Next time we will explore a few other things pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. If you are a pastor, do you practice these three things?
  2. If you aren’t a pastor, do you encourage him in these areas?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith? – Part 1

Just recently I came across an article that opens like this:

“In 2004, nine hospitals in Michigan began implementing a new procedure in their intensive care units (I.C.U.). Almost overnight, healthcare professionals were stunned with its success.

Three months after it began, the procedure had cut the infection rate of I.C.U. patients by sixty-six percent. Within 18 months, this one method had saved 75 million dollars in healthcare expenses. Best of all, this single intervention saved the lives of more than 1,500 people in just a year and a half. The strategy was immediately published in a blockbuster paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.

What did these people do? They didn’t implement new technologies. “There were no pharmaceutical discoveries or cutting edge procedures. The physicians just stopped skipping steps” [1] .

The way these hospitals made sure their physicians stopped skipping steps was by implementing a checklist. A simple checklist that anyone can write on a piece of paper ended up saving these hospitals 75 million dollars and 1,500 patient lives in a year and a half.

If you are anything like me, you probably think that is almost unbelievable. You see, we are always looking for something new to make us successful. Some new technology, a new procedure. Something revolutionary. And a checklist is not revolutionary. It’s as basic and fundamental as it gets. But here’s the things and here’s the point of the article: Sometimes consistently practicing the fundamentals is all we need to be successful. This is not only true in the health industry, but it’s also true in school, at home, and especially when it comes to our faith. If we want to grow and continue to remain steadfast, we must continually practice the fundamentals of the faith. Looking for something new and revolutionary is not going to do it.

But here’s the thing and here’s the point of the article: Sometimes consistently practicing the fundamentals is all we need to be successful. This is not only true in the health industry, but it’s also true in school, at home, and especially when it comes to our faith. If we want to grow and continue to remain steadfast, we must continually practice the fundamentals of the faith. Looking for something new and revolutionary is not going to do it.

Now, there are a lot of fundamentals to the faith. We certainly don’t have time to explore all of those. So over the next few posts, we are going to look at those fundamentals that have to do with pastors. Reading that, some of you may be thinking that I have forgotten that I am writing primarily to laymen and not a group of pastors. But I haven’t forgotten. You see, while these are fundamentals that a pastor must practice, the church’s involvement is required in order for him to do them.

While It Starts with Pastors, It Continues with the Church

It starts with pastors

What I mean is that pastors first have to determine that they are going to operate based on Scripture’s wisdom. They can’t be overly concerned with pragmatic principles or what’s currently popular. Instead, they have to be determined to do what the Bible says no matter what. That’s where this has to start.

It has to continue with the church

The church has to be onboard with operating according to Scripture. They have to prize Scripture’s wisdom over culture’s. And they have to expect, encourage, and allow their pastors to practice the fundamentals that are given in Scripture.

If the church doesn’t expect their pastor to do these things, he may not do them. And if the church doesn’t encourage him as he is doing them, he may get discouraged and quit.

As well as if the church doesn’t allow him to do these things because they are bent on doing something else, it is going to be tough, if not impossible, for even the most biblical minded pastor, to practice these fundamentals.

So it has to start with the pastor, but it has to continue with the church. The church has to expect, encourage, and allow their pastors to practice these fundamentals.

Next Time

Next time we will get into more of the specifics of what pastors are to do and what the church should expect, encourage, and allow.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see the church’s role in the pastor’s growth?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon How Can Both the Pastor and Congregation Continue in the Faith?

[1] http://lifehacker.com/do-more-of-what-already-works-the-power-consistency-1695317174