The Functions of a Pastor: Part Two
Acts, as you may know is a historical book of the birth and growth of a new organic phenomenon called the church. The church is both an organism and an organization. Acts 6 describes one of the early growing pains of this new organism:
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Acts 6:1)
“What can be done?”, the young church must have been asking. The wise apostles had an idea…
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude… (Acts 6:2-5) [Emphasis mine]
The apostles had great wisdom in this matter and realized that this organism needed further organization. They called the church to a Baptist business meeting to present the situation and propose the solution. The whole multitude of disciples somehow, and we are not told exactly how, expressed their approval. What principals can we draw from this passage? What are the primary priorities of a pastor? What are the tools the pastor should employ to feed, protect, and lead the church of the living God?
They are listed for us in the above passage. Yes, it is true that Acts 6:4 is speaking specifically of the apostles; however it offers practical application for pastors as well. The two top priorities of a pastor should be prayer and the ministry of the Word.
Nothing can sustain powerful preaching like prayer. There have been many books written on the subject of prayer, and much could be said on this topic. It is my conviction that one can not grow much without this line of communication, that God has so graciously opened up, for all who trust in His finished work on Calvary. This is no less true for pastors. What it all boils down to is this, talking and communing with God. I recommend any of the following books to the reader on the topic of prayer:
Power in Prayer (C.H. Spurgeon)
Pray (Ben Haden)
Praying With Authority (Theodor H. Epp)
Sense and Nonsense About Prayer (Lehman Strauss)*
Spiritual Warfare (R.C. Stedman)
The Necessity of Prayer (E.M.Bounds)
The Power of a Praying Wife (Stormie Omartian)**
The Reality of Prayer (E.M.Bounds)
The Teaching of Jesus on Prayer (Lewis MacLachlan)
What God does When Men Pray (William Carr Peel)
The two top priorities of a pastor should be prayer and the ministry of the Word.
The ministry of the Word of God
The pastor of a church should be skilled in the ministry of the Word of God. That means, perhaps among other things, and or along side of other interests, he needs time to pray and be ministered to, through the Word. Acts 20:28 gives this admonition, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
A pastor needs to spend time in the Word if he is to be effective in the ministry of the Word. A pastor will:
Read the Word
Study the Word
Teach the Word
Preach the Word
Live by the Word
Perhaps one reading this has a desire to be a pastor, such a one desires a good work! If one is called to preach he is also called to prepare. Preparation occurs in a variety of ways, we dare not limit God. For some it may mean Bible collage and/or seminary. It may involve mentoring from a more mature believer. If you have a desire to preach you may gain experience by volunteering at a local mission, take a friend with you to offer realistic and constructive criticism. Do some street preaching, or ask to conduct services to nursing homes (this usually involves a team). Most importantly be yourself, develop your own homiletic. On this topic I would recommend the book, Lectures to My Students (C. H. Spurgeon).
A pastor is to feed, protect, and lead a congregation in the onward and upward God given direction. That is why I believe the top priorities of a pastor are prayer and the ministry of the Word of God. It is best, in my view, if a church can afford to pay their pastor/s. The idea is that a pastor be unencumbered as much as possible by the cares of this world. However, there are Baptist pastors who support themselves with employment as well. In this situation the church, then, should take further responsibilities to support their pastor. The way a pastor is treated by the church is so important. Sheep support their shepherds in many ways, they are not vicious animals... have you ever heard of an attack sheep? In a latter post we will look at the flip side of being a pastor, that is, the treatment he is to receive from the church.
* My personal favorite, especially for those who like an easy and simple and practical read.
**Good one for the ladies.