Pre-Sunday Musings: 5 Ways Your Pastor Should Help You2
This upcoming Sunday our sermon will be on the topic of what the church does. Pastor Tom and I will be discussing Doctrines #11 and #13 of our Doctrinal Statement. In thinking about all that God has called us to do as we follow Him, I asked myself: What should all this look like for me practically as one of the Pastors of Holden Chapel? Personally: How can I be helping our congregation fulfill the tasks we have? I certainly don't want to make it more difficult! I don't want to hinder God's people! I want to serve God's people. I want God's people to be able to do more for God because of how God is using me FOR them! Of course, this means that I have to try and apply the sermons I preach to MYSELF! Sermons aren't just for non-Pastors, they are for Pastors too! My sermons are for me as well.
Oftentimes in a sermon I preach, I am unable to share how I am personally processing through God's Word and the message He has given me. This, because of time and because a sermon isn't primarily about ME, but about God speaking to all of HIS People. From time to time I can share these personal anecdotes, but typically I cannot. Nonetheless, I thought I'd share in this blog some aspects of the upcoming sermon I'm personally thinking through. That is, how would God want ME to respond in obedience to what He will tell us as a body this Sunday? In prepping for the sermon I asked, "God, what does it look like for me to BE your Church? The answers I received were quite convicting for me! The following were 5 answers God showed me as I read His word, prayed to Him, and researched other materials (One of the books that was especially helpful in this regard is called, Teaching the Faith, Forming the Faithful: A Biblical Vision for Education in the Church by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang, pages 162-168):
1) As your Pastor, I should show the congregation by my personal example and the example of others what it means to BE the Church. If I am serious about helping the congregation fulfill their biblical roles, then I need to be willing to provide them with good role models. Every once in a while, that might be me. But likely, more often, I should take note of church leaders - other Pastor, elders, ministry leaders, families and single people - young and old - within the congregation who are already showing what it looks like to follow Christ. We all need role models to look to. Modeling was a chief ministry strategy of Jesus and of Paul. So why shouldn't it be for me? I should be asking, "Who are the people in our church who are modeling loving care and nurture and spiritual leadership?... Who in our congregation is modeling grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, understanding and other qualities essential for Christ's body?" I should be finding those people and highlighting their personal examples so that God's family can be encouraged.
2) As your Pastor, I should exhort the congregation - through the pulpit and elsewhere. Alongside the commitment to highlight real-life role models, there is a need for me as the Pastor to urge through public exhortation and instruction that we take our own unique roles seriously. My words as I preach or lead Bible studies ought to encourage the people of God to know what God's Word says and should be able to show what it means for us to obey God's word together.
3) As your Pastor, I should nurture the congregation in accordance to their own faith development. One of the greatest ways for me to help the congregational members succeed is to help each memeber in their own faith and walk. This should be specific, highly relational, and sensitive to the current needs of each person. I should be helping people to follow God in every area of their own life. This takes a lot of time, but is very important for the health of God's people. How can we be the church if we don't apply God's Word to our own unique circumstances? As your Pastor, part of my job is helping you do just that.
4) As your Pastor, I should equip you through seminars, resources, study groups and more. This doesn't mean I should lead each equipping event myself nor that I should personally be writing all the curriculum for the church. This would make the ministry too reliant on just one person: Me. But it does mean that part of my role and responsibility as a Pastor it to make sure the congregation is receiving the training that it needs to accomplish the tasks God has called us to. After all, if all I do is preach to you about what you should do without also necessarily at the same time equipping you for the task, you could end up being frustrated or feeling guilty about not knowing how to serve God. That would be MY fault, not yours!
5) As your Pastor, I should support you - by recognizing the weightiness of your calling and not overburdening you. Sometimes, it can seem as though church leaders have hoisted lofty expectations on the shoulders of the congregation but are unwilling to help them bear that burden. By God's grace - This should never be true of Holden Chapel. While I should always desire the best for each member of our congregation, I should be realistic and willing to give grace, mercy and extend patience when God's tasks prove difficult for us to obey. When the people in the congregation are tired, sad, distracted or feeling unmotivated, I should be available to step in and encourage, pray, listen and offer advice when asked. No one in the congregation should feel alone, or isolated. Pastors are meant to walk alongside their people - willing to protect, guide and care for them whenever they are needed. I want you to know: I want to be that kind of Pastor to you.
How are we as a church doing in these categories? How am I doing? Don't hesitate to call me (508.829.4441), email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet at me (@PastorPenza). Let me know how I can improve, and how I can serve you. After all, as one of your Pastors, it's my job. And more importantly, I need to be obedient to God's Word just as much as you do! Let's do this, together!
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