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Leaders

 

What do you do when the expectations a Pastor has of the Church where he or she serves are vastly different from the expectations the people have of their Pastor?

 

I read a survey recently in which 89% of pastors interviewed said that their role (i.e their personal expectations) was to train & equip the members of their churches for ministry. However, in the same survey, 87% of their people said that role of Pastors was to help them in their needs. The quantum leap between the perceptions of Pastor and people is a recipe for unmet expectations, growing frustration and inevitable heartache.

In order to minimise such frustration and heartache in the Churches where I served, I always tried to explain - repeatedly! - to our folk how I saw my role as a Pastor. In a variety of settings, I presented my role and the reasons why I functioned as I did. My goal was that people understood the reasoning behind my 'pastoral style'. If they agreed, that was a bonus. If they didn't agree they at least understood.

 

Each time I gathered my convictions about how I was to function as a Pastor under 4 basic headings. Over the next few days I want to submit these four dimensions to you for your consideration. Whether you are a Pastor or a member of your Pastor's congregation, I hope that these insights contribute to the fulfilment of your role in Christian ministry.

 

[1] I WAS THERE TO TEACH THE WORD

 

This has been a very basic building block in Ministry. We look into Acts 2 and it is obvious that from the very beginning that the Word of God was central in the life of the Church.

 

All the ministry gifts itemised in Ephesians 4/11 have the Word of God at their very centre. As a Pastor/Teacher I do all I can to teach God's Word in ways that are understandable and life related. However, I have to do more than present propositional truth because the pattern or method of teaching in the New Testament involved much more than imparting data, facts and propositional truth. It involved…..

 

*Information - The teaching method of Jesus included the verbal aspect of communication i.e. what people hear. The teaching in Matthew chapters 5-7 - the Sermon on the Mount - is just one case in point. I, too, was to verbally teach the Word of God.

 

*Demonstration - this is the visual aspect of the New Testament way of teaching. i.e. what is seen. John 13/1-17 is a classic example of this aspect. Modelling the truth we declared in our own lives gives integrity to the message. The disciples often learned by watching Jesus as He ministered the Will of His Father in the lives of people.

 

I notice Paul had the same approach to discipleship: "Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you .(Phil 4:9 NLT)

 

*Participation - this is the volitional dimension of teaching. It involves the will in that it requires us to act upon what we have heard and seen. The disciples were sent out to do the ministry as seen in Mk.6/7-13. Actually, John 13/17 gives us the clue to this third dimension of biblical teaching. Knowing truth is not enough. Jesus said, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them".

 

In one wide-ranging survey conducted in one the Churches where we served, 86% of our people said that Biblical teaching is something that we do very well. That response was gratifying in some ways but it did little to remove the haunting question for me, "Do we really teach our people well or do we just provide good information?" I asked that question because, based on the 3-fold criteria above, we have taught our people nothing until we are modelling it (demonstration) and they are doing it (participation)!

 

Until information becomes participation, all we have done is provide data and information. For example, we can inform our people about the Biblical principles of forgiveness but the practice of forgiveness must be seen modelled in our lives as Pastor/Teachers and embraced by our people in their lives. The same is true with teaching them about worship, evangelism, prayer….the list goes on.

 

In the next post, I want to address the second of these dimensions. Namely...

[2] I WAS THERE T0 ENCOURAGE THE VISION

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