What are the top five tasks of a pastor and why? The answer to this question will vary from student to student because there are more than five tasks of a pastor. Certainly, John MacArthur made mention of seventeen primary activities taken from First and Second Thessalonians. They are praying, evangelizing, equipping, defending, loving, laboring, modeling, leading, feeding, watching, warning, teaching, exhorting, encouraging, correcting, confronting, and rescuing (MacArthur, 11-12). To determine which of these activities are most important is dependent on the pastor and what are their priorities and ministry? An activity may be considered a task, but this student wants to examine tasks as possibly ministries of a pastor.
According to MacArthur, there are seven ministries that can be boiled down from these activities. These ministries have three basic purposes of the church. They are exaltation, evangelism, and edification (MacArthur, 59). Therefore, to boil these tasks or activities down a little more, these activities lead a pastor into these seven ministries: The Ministry of the Word, The Ministry of Fellowship, The Ministry of the Lord’s Supper, The Ministry of Prayer, The Ministry of Outreach, The Ministry of Missions, and The Ministry of Interchurch Fellowship (MacArthur, 61-62). MacArthur wrote, “The role of pastoral leadership, composed of a select group of men from the church of redeemed believers, is to provide guidance, care, and oversight for the church so that it fulfills its Christ-ordained mandate of evangelizing the entire world, growing into the likeness of Christ, and existing for the exaltation and worship of God” (MacArthur, 58). Out of these seven ministries, this student will select his top five based on what he thinks are the priorities, but all are of equal importance.
The first and probably the most important ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of the Word. Pastors are responsible for teaching the Word of God. This is done through a combination of opportunities such as preaching, teaching Sunday school, and small group Bible studies. Romans 10:17 states that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. MacArthur wrote, “What is important, however, is that the Word of God be taught. If the Word of God is taught, the church will grow in faith and love (Rom. 10:17)” (MacArthur, 59).
The second ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of Prayer. According to MacArthur, “Prayer moves God; prayer changes things” (MacArthur, 61). A church that prays will see God’s miracles and His work. Praying is the way Christians communicate with God. MacArthur wrote, “A praying church will be a victorious, growing, maturing community. The wonder of today’s church is that so much goes on with so little praying. The answer to many of the church’s problems is not more seminars, programs, and promotional gimmicks but more intercession on the part of God’s people, both as a group and in a closet” (MacArthur, 61). This quote is so very true. This student has seen miracles come through prayer, from his own healing to church organizations receiving the funds needed to carry on. Through diligent prayer, through that communion with God, it will bring the church community closer in their faith walk with Him. Then that is when one will start to see lives changing for the cause of Christ.
The third ministry task is the Ministry of Outreach. The pastoral leader is to lead his flock into evangelism. Christ gave every one of His followers a command. This is found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” The church is to take the Gospel throughout the world. Pastors must teach his congregants how to lead others to Christ. He must himself, practice personal soul winning. MacArthur stated that many in the church feel that it is the pastor’s sole responsibility to evangelize, but they are mistaken. It is every believer’s responsibility to evangelize. But it is the pastor’s responsibility to teach his congregants in how to share their faith. MacArthur wrote, “A Church that does not know how to reproduce and does not reproduce is in reality an immature congregation, regardless of its intellectual comprehension of Scripture or the sophistication of its corporate programs” (MacArthur, 62). Therefore, it is the pastor’s responsibility to teach his church members how to share their faith. If not, unfortunately, the membership will dwindle.
The fourth ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of the Lord’s Supper. The early church participated in “breaking bread” as a remembrance of Jesus Christ and the last supper with His disciples. MacArthur wrote, “The Lord’s Supper, like the ordinance of baptism, is no trivial practice, but one that lies at the heart of the Christian message (1 Cor. 11:23-26). The symbolism, solemnity with celebration, and the sanctity required by all participants make it one of the most inspirational and worshipful services of the Christian community” (MacArthur, 60). MacArthur also wrote that great spiritual benefit comes from participation in the Lord’s Supper (MacArthur, 61). Pastors must teach his congregants that by celebrating the Lord’s Supper will help bring meaning and will edify each person’s soul. It is the worship of Christ and what He did for us, by laying down His life for all who would believe.
The fifth ministry task of a pastor is the Ministry of Missions. This goes almost hand in hand with the Ministry of Outreach. The pastor must lead his congregants in establishing and maintaining a missions program. Christ gave His followers the commandment to take the Gospel to all of Jerusalem, Samaria, and the utmost parts of the world. By following Jesus Christ’s commandment, this results in attempting to fulfill the Great Commission. The church must also participate in sending or supporting missionaries who are willing to go throughout the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the responsibility of the pastor to teach his congregants that this is a requirement and not an option.
In conclusion, this student interpreted the top five tasks of a pastor as ministries. Certainly, the first seventeen activities are all important, but these were boiled down to actual ministries which the pastoral leadership must accomplish to lead his church congregants in the way that Christ would have led them. The result of these five ministries will help to accomplish the three basic purposes of the church which are exaltation, evangelism, and edification.
MacArthur, John. Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005.
Joseph T. Lee © November 2, 2017 The Lantern & Shield Times LLC