Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Are You Called to Shepherd the Flock of God? Part 2

Since the major impulse for pastoral ministry is the desire to do the work, I thought it might be helpful to describe what pastoral ministry looks like. I believe that you will see that the most pressing concern of being a pastor is educating the church in the Scriptures.

Since I have been altogether unsatisfied with modern Sunday School literature, I have taken it upon myself to write material for our church. Right now, I am preparing lessons from Hebrews for the adult Sunday School class. They are my guinea pigs for the lessons. I am doing this because I am convinced that we need a more exegetical approach to Sunday School; something with a little more meat to chew on. I also teach that Sunday School class every morning. I have targeted this class because this is the age group that will have to produce the leaders of our church. I can simultaneously model teaching and demonstrate how to study the Bible at the same time.

I also teach a Discipleship class on Sunday nights. Currently, we are going through Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church. While it is not an 'exegetical' study, it is certainly biblical and systematic. Dever's excellent book demonstrates and reiterates the very points that I am attempting to model as pastor: Exegetical, expository preaching is the bedrock of forming a healthy church.

Most importantly, I spend time during the week preparing for the two sermons I deliver on Sunday morning and Sunday night. Currently, we are going through James in the morning and Mark in the evenings. It is during the preaching of the Word that I demonstrate my passion for its truth, the beauty of its power, and the seriousness of gospel proclamation. I view those two sermons as the most important things that I do all week. In that time, I reach more of the church than at any other time. Also, it is the pinnacle of my worship for the week; I both dread and rejoice at the prospect of preaching each Sunday.

Besides these things, I also have the privilege of visiting the sick and the healthy. I go to surgeries, and I make home visits. On a good week, members invite me over or we open our home to someone. These are times of fellowship and opportunities for discipleship. I treasure these times, and I endeavor to make the most of them. I am also helping to oversee the beginnings of a men's ministry, and I help with the women's ministry. That means when all the women are occupied in Bible study and fellowship, I can to help keep the nursery. We are also about to begin a small group men's Bible study in my home, and I'm trying to figure out now exactly when to do it, what to do, and how to get the word out.

If you look at this list of stuff, I hope that you will notice a pattern. That is, you might think that I am obsessed with the Bible. I teach it, preach it, write material for it, talk about it, encourage its study, and etc. If you think that, it is only because it is true. I am staking my life on the fact the the Word of God has the power to change lives. If I could boil down my life into one thing, one passion, one dream, it would be that the people that I shepherd would be a people who love the Scriptures and have learned to handle them responsibly.

Do you have the desire to teach the Bible in such a way? If you have this desire, then you may fit the mold of an overseer. Further, I believe that this desire to teach is evidenced by an insatiable desire for learning. Are you a devourer of theological books? Do you read every piece of material you can get your hands on? Do you have endless questions? Do you spend a significant amount of time pondering Biblical questions and quandries? These are also the marks of a good teacher and shepherd.

THe list of things for a pastor to do are not here exhausted, but I believe that they are an accurate reflection of pastors ought to be doing. If you are of the mind that you are gifted to shepherd the flock of God, these are some of the responsibities that you will have to shoulder. If this delights you, then I say go for it, brother


Daniel said...

Brad - you are describing me to the letter.

Except for one thing, though as soon as I word it I am certain that you will understand my exact meaning.

I am passionate about people knowing Christ - not that people learn the bible for the bible's sake, but that people understand that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their life is to disclose the person of Christ to them so that they might walk in genuine fellowship in the Spirit - and that knowing the God of scripture is the single most appropriate way to transform one's thinking in this regard. That is, I teach what the bible says about Christ.

I know that is exactly what you meant, but a reader didn't know that is what you meant, they might think you were talking about a head knowledge of the bible, rather than a heart knowledge of Christ that is shaped by a head knowledge of the bible. (if that makes any sense?).

I never see you around my blog anymore.. :-(


Grounded & Rooted said...

Good post. Well said and to the point. Hope you are well?

Sojourner said...

You are correct, of course. I certainly do not wish for people to learn the Bible for intellectual exercise. But this sometimes cannot be helped. In the case of the unregenerate, they will pack verses and theology into their skull for no other purpose than ego and self-congratulations. For the believer, I can hardly see how the learning of Scripture will not result in a better understanding of Jesus Christ and what it means to be a disciple.

I have been lurking about your blog from time to time. You just say everything so well that I am left speechless. I will have to pipe up with the occassional comment so that you won't think that I have died.:)

Jim said...

Brad, I think creating your own curriculum is a great idea. It will help you to better understand the context and content as well.

I would also suggest that you get some feedback on how practical the application really is. As Daniel pointed out, unless the scriptures reveal Christ to us, they will simply become more head knowledge. As we know, knowledge puffs up...the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.

Every Blessing in Christ,

Lisa said...

I have been lurking around your blog for a couple of months now, having been directed here by one of your buddies from high school. I thoroughly enjoy reading your thoughts and ruminations and always leave challenged and encouraged.

I am new to comment-posting, and already tried once, and my well-written, thoughtful response somehow got lost in the abyss of cyber-space. However, I feel prompted to respond (not once, but twice) because while I am not called to pastor (being a girl and all), I share your passion for teaching God's Word. I believe He has called me and gifted me to teach His Word wherever He gives opportunity. I teach a ladies' discipleship class on Sunday afternoons, a community Bible study on Monday nights, a "basics" class on Wednesday nights and team teach SS with my husband. Most people think I'm out of my mind, and I think I was beginning to wonder myself...until I read your post! I have been somewhat discouraged and reading of your fervency made me realize I had lost some of mine. Thanks for the reminder to "keep [my] spiritual fervor, serving the Lord."

By the way, my husband and I have also been somewhat discouraged by the accepted SS lit. Are you willing share some samples of your curriculum?

While I am here, I also want to say your entry on the reformation of the church also resounded with me. While I certainly could not have articulated it as well as you did, you said exactly what I (as well as a handful of others--a remnant if you will!) have been longing for. How enouraging to know we are not alone. How we pray for God to do a work among us!

ColinM said...

I was busy having my pity party about God's dealings with me and seminary until you so rudely interrupted and snapped me out of it with this post. Timely, providential...thanks.