Are You Being Fed Biblical Truth by Your Pastor?

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them.

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2 Timothy 4:1-5 Preach the Word

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

When Paul wrote this passage in 2 Timothy 4:1-5, he was writing to Timothy, to give him personal encouragement relating to the works of a minister of the gospel. Paul knew that this may be his last letter to Timothy considering his execution was soon. He wanted to give Timothy guidance for the post-apostolic age.

There is no other way to preach the Word of God except in truth. Paul’s intention was that Timothy not fall short by preaching what congregants wanted to hear but preaching sound teaching of Jesus Christ. Notice in verses 3 and 4, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” We are seeing this in today’s American Church, pastors are watering down the Word of God, teaching prosperity gospel and heresy. Paul specifically stated that we are to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” as written in verse 2.

So many times, we hear about people stating they do not want to go to church because the pastor makes them feel guilty or that when he preaches, they feel like that he is talking about them. Were you aware that the reason you may feel that way is because the Holy Spirit may be convicting you of your way of life, your sin, your attitudes, your sinful self? For people to only want to hear what makes them feel good is a sign that they have not fully embraced God’s teaching. It appears they are asserting what they want to hear as opposed to hearing from God the true version of the gospel.

What nerve congregants have, to dictate to their pastor in how to teach them? I have been in a church previously where a few people wanted “their church” run a certain way. They were not open to the advancement of the gospel. They only wanted to do it “their way.” They wanted their ears tickled with a gospel that only suited their way. If the pastor tried something different in what he preached, they ran him away. They basically wanted a “puppet” to preach what they wanted to hear, pleasant to the ear, not much condemnation, a “feel good” pastor. These types of pastors, “puppet men and women,” who are not teaching and preaching “true” Biblical Truth, will potentially be leading their congregants astray and possibly to hell.

A pastor is to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” They are to teach and preach the Bible. The opponents to this are guided by the “slanderer, the evil one, the prince of this world, Satan himself.” Yes, we live in a society where congregants have itching or tickling ears. Look at verse 3 again, “but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” Are you in a church where the pastor preaches a watered-down version to tickle the ears of his or her members?

The same goes when we as the Church should be taking the gospel into our communities. Are we sharing a watered-down version of the gospel to the lost? The Bible teaches that we are to love our neighbor, but do we truly love them if we keep our mouths closed and not share the gift that Jesus has given to us because we do not want to offend anyone? Has the Politically Correct movement affected our pastors and ourselves so much that we are afraid to speak the gospel with boldness for fear of being called hate mongers?

The point here is that we as well as our pastors should be teaching true and sound Biblical truth to people whom we come in contact with. Tickling their itching ears to hear what suits them because they are living in sin is not what Jesus Christ called us to do. If someone is living in sin, then we as Followers of Christ, as well as our Pastors must be teaching truth to those who are lost, and disciple those after they convert to Christ. That is what we are called to do as Followers of Jesus Christ and as Ministers of the Gospel. I pray that you will be bold in your faith and teach and preach God’s Truth with boldness and with love.

Copyright March 27, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

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An American Idol or a Pastor?

Regrettably, American Idol is slated to return to an ABC channel near you this March.  I did my best to avoid the show when it was running several years ago.  I did so simply because I found its title and concept rather revolting. The problem is, however, that many of the contestants were extremely talented—they were entertaining to say the least. Nonetheless, I found the show “revolting” because it fed upon the superficiality of America’s pop culture. But even though the show was incredibly superficial, there were seasons in which the person with the most natural or God given talent won, instead of the one that was the most attractive or that had the most flair. Generally speaking, however, it was the exception rather than the rule that the most deserving and talented person won.

Regrettably a similar thing is happening to today’s pastors. Pastors seem more concerned with their image rather than conforming to the model given by Jesus or his immediate followers. Furthermore, churches unwittingly encourage their pastors to act more like celebrities instead of spiritual shepherds. The bottom line for today’s congregations is do they like “listening” to their pastors, as opposed to hearing the word of God taught to them. Similarly, pastors are more worried about how they are perceived, and whether they are being seen with the right people rather than personally investing in and training a new generation for service to the Lord and his gospel.

How do I know this to be true? It’s pretty simple, just look at the average pastor’s job description. It usually involves a set amount of hours in sermon prep, and then in hospital visits, and then in business meetings, and then in staff meetings, and then in etc., etc. (you get the point); all of which requires generating written reports. I would venture to say that in about 80% of the job descriptions for lead pastors for the average church there is no reference to “discipleship.” Moreover, in the minority in which it is referenced, it is bundled among dozens of other activities that comprise a sort of “other things to do bucket,” that is if time permits. All of which can only be vaguely measured, and for which no pastor can realistically be held accountable—given the many demands of the “more important” responsibilities. To put it plainly, discipleship is ancillary rather than essential to how most of American pastors function today.

The question is, however, is this what Jesus modeled? If one simply weighs the amount of time that Jesus spent in investing, teaching, and training his personal disciples compared to all of his other endeavors, then it is clear that discipleship was the most important component of his entire earthly ministry. Let me say that again: discipleship was the most important component of Jesus’ entire earthly ministry. And the same value for discipleship can be observed in Paul’s ministry as well (2 Tim 2.1-2). The importance and significance of effective discipleship to enduring ministry is obvious. The only thing of consequence that Jesus did by himself was to die for the sins of the world—which was something his disciples were unable to do for themselves, let alone for anyone else. The fact is that Jesus’ earthly ministry began with modeling discipleship (Mk 1.17-20) and then ended with his command to his disciples to go and make other disciples all around the world (Matt 28.18-20).

But are today’s churches looking for disciple makers? Apparently not, instead they are looking for “Christian Idols” (who by the way no longer need to be men). They want individuals who are young, good looking, have it together, and most importantly—they must “sound” good. People must like listening to them. So much for hearing from God about the offense of sin, his provision for it through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the way of the cross. So, if you are wondering what kind of pastor your church has, start observing how much time he spends discipling others for the purpose of serving the Lord through evangelism and training for ministry. If you don’t see it happening with regularity or if you don’t even hear about it, then your pastor is presenting an “image” rather than following Jesus’ model of ministry.  Your pastor may look and sound good, but the impact of his personal devotion to the Lord and his commitment to Lord’s method of ministry will disappear about the same time grass starts appearing on his grave.

Monte Shanks, Copyright © February 20, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times LLC. All Rights Reserved.

 

Interview with a Pastor: The Making of an American Pastor

I most recently had a candid interview with a pastor about his ministry and what it was like leading a church. My questions are in BOLD TYPE. His answers are in regular font. The name of the pastor has been omitted as well as the church. If you are thinking of going into the ministry as a pastor, the answers to these questions may help you with your decision. I hope that you enjoy this article.

Tell me about your call to pastoral ministry. I surrendered to Christ at age six through a desire to be a part of God’s family. Earlier than that, I longed to preach because my Dad was a preacher. At age twelve, I came to an understanding and asked the Father, “Is this what you want or what I want? If this is what you want, then speak to be as clearly as you did for salvation and make me miserable again like that.” And he did, and at age thirteen, I surrendered to ministry. I was fortunate to have a Dad who would honestly mentor me in real time of the things he was going through.

Which pastoral responsibility do you enjoy the most and why? I would say the preaching, because of the deep passion for scripture. I would say the leading, because of the longing to follow Christ. I would say the disciple making because of the pouring into others and seeing the transformation that only happens in them but also happens in me when we have those discipling times. Any other ones? Because of our services, I don’t get to do this as much, but I enjoyed doing baptisms. That is a sweet moment with God smiling on an individual for their obedience in baptism.

Which pastoral duty do you enjoy the least and why? Anything dealing with confrontation. One of the things in ministry that drains the most is disappointment. You must weigh through the disappointing responses, disappointing perspectives, where you realize it’s not a biblical perspective or response. It’s not a response that’s a surrender to Christ. It’s not a humbled response. And when you see that among God’s people, that’s one of the hardest things to wrestle through. I talked with and read Macel Falwell’s biography of her husband Jerry Falwell. And she rightly said, He could handle the push back and the criticism by those who had no relationship with Christ. What wounded him the most was heavier and harder for him to carry were the negative comments of those who were followers of Christ.

Describe the amount of time you spend each week in ministry preparation. The average week is about twenty hours. Other times it could get heavier and be more intense. That’s a lot of hours. Yes, but that is the key moment that you must minister to everyone. And you can have counseling moments. You can have committee meeting moments. But the one moment where you pastor and minister to everyone is that sermon. And furthermore, it must be a message from the Father and not your message to the people. So, you have to be with the Father as the herald to hear the message. To pray it through with Him so to make sure that it’s His message, not yours.

Describe the amount of time you spend in the week in administrative responsibilities.  Oh goodness! Probably almost all the time, isn’t it? Yes. And particularly at our church. You also have ministries connected to you beyond our church. I would say forty hours. Wow! No, let’s make that thirty because you have moments like this as well. And we will say another twenty in pastoring with one on one. This is just a rough estimate.

Describe the amount of time you spend each week in personal devotions and prayer. Here’s the thing. It has to be every day. And I would say every day, at least an hour. I imagine that you are praying without ceasing too. There you go. There you go! Everyone that comes into my office, they don’t come in without prayer and they don’t leave without prayer. That’s the same truth for every meeting that we have, administrative meeting. But that’s beyond what I need to have in the morning and what I need to have at night, and during the day. Like yesterday, I had to get away and get into the sanctuary and just pray.

What is the area of pastoral ministry that you wish that you had been taught in school? Pain management. The reason I say that was my Dad was very honest when he mentored me. He said, I want to tell you what I am going through in real time. When you are knocked into the same ropes, you know that your Dad has survived and so can you. The ropes that I am getting hit against are not unfamiliar because I saw that happen to Dad. But one thing Dad could never convey was how hard the punches are, when you are getting knocked against the ropes. In my opinion Joe, if time is short, and I think it is, Satan is going to ramp up his attack on the Bride, and try to keep us less effective as possible. So, there is more spiritual attack and spiritual oppression that adds to that pain, that you have to learn how to manage, as Ephesians Six says, to stand.

Describe your ordination council. First of all, we want to make certain that they have displayed a call to ministry. There must be evidence that they have. When we have seen that, then we can put together an ordaining council that will be of pastors and ministers who are also ordained. And they will meet with the individual. The first one is to be ordained or licensed to ministry. We are going through theological things to determine if they can be licensed to ministry. After, there is an approval, then the church votes on whether to license to ministry. That gives you a window to watch whether they continue to display the characteristics to be licensed into ministry. Then we will convene the ordaining council. The ordaining council consists of pastors, ministers, and sometimes deacons. This council asks theological questions as well as the pastor-elect asks questions. This creates a mentoring moment as well, but through that time, the ordaining council must recommend to the church if the pastor-elect is to be ordained into ministry. This is a careful and cautious process before we recommend a man for ministry. How long does the ordination process take from the time the process is started until the time the pastor is ordained? If you go from the process of licensing until ordination, it could take a couple of years.

What is the one piece of advice you give to someone aspiring to become a pastor? Make certain the Father has called you. That is the very first thing my Dad said when I surrendered to ministry at age thirteen. We were in the car and he said, “Son, if there is anything else you can do, do it. But if you can’t, you know the Father has called you.” Make certain above all things that the Lord has called you, because it’s that calling that becomes the “not at the end of the road,” that causes you to hang on when you would love to let go.

 In conclusion, I was made aware of the struggles of this pastor and what he goes through not only daily, but weekly, as the head pastor of his church. It was interesting to hear a pastor state that he surrendered to ministry when he made up his mind that he wanted to be a minister at the age of thirteen. One has heard the term surrendering to Christ, but I have never heard the term surrendering to ministry. I guess it is the same as “The Call.”

In reference to the pastor’s passion for preaching, he spends about twenty hours in preparation each week on average. It is evident that he pours into others when it comes to discipleship. Unfortunately, because of his schedule, he does not perform baptisms anymore.

It is evident that he does not enjoy confrontation. Confrontation can drain a pastor and they face disappointment almost on a weekly basis. He referenced Macel Falwell’s biography about the late Jerry Falwell and how Jerry could take the criticisms of unbelievers better than those who were followers of Christ. What can wound a pastor the most is the ugliness of those who are supposed to love you when they criticize. I see this constantly in ministry where Believers who may mean well constantly criticize and ultimately push pastors out the door of their churches because of the constant attacks. Although these people may not understand what they are doing, if not caught and these people counseled with, this can cause division in the church.

The pastor wished that he had been taught pain management in seminary. He gave an analogy of his Dad in a boxing ring, fighting with those who hurt pastors. He stated that “when you are knocked into the ropes that your Dad had survived, then you realize that you can survive as well (paraphrased).” This pastor feels the punches and they hurt when it is delivered from the loved ones, the congregants that are beating you up in the church. He feels that we are in the last days and that Satan is stirring up hate and dissention among the followers of Christ. The spiritual warfare adds to the pain. But the rewards can be sweet when those who he is pouring into comes to Christ and he can see heart transformations right in front of his eyes.

Pastoring and shepherding is a lifelong commitment that is not for the faint in heart. It is a tough job and one that may not be highly paid. Many times, it goes without thanks and one can see that it could be a lonely occupation as to whom does the pastor trust? Besides his relationship with God and his wife and family, one can understand why pastors keep a distance from congregants in their church. That is why the pastor must stay in prayer and seek the Father’s will so that he can preach the message that is God inspired. It is only through this close relationship with God that the pastor can be successful in leading the lost to Christ.

If you love your pastor and care about him, please pray for him and his family. Please allow him the time he needs and give him and his family privacy. Do not be so demanding on him. God has called pastors to shepherd, but Christians are called to love one another as well as love their neighbor. Consider being a servant in your church by helping the pastor out instead of draining him dry. Consider praying for him before he gives his sermon so that God will speak through him. You can get engaged in your church and then see where God leads this ministry.

Joseph T. Lee © November 16, 2017, The Lantern & Shield Times LLC

 

 

 

What are the top five tasks of a pastor and why?

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.

 

Bibliography

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