Pastorals (People, Preaching & Prayer)

This is the second in a series of posts titled “Pastorals”.  One of the things that I have begun to realize about myself is that I tend to forget things quickly.  My goal in this series is to continually remind myself of the lessons that I have learned in ministry.

PMC Church in the Snow B I still remember my first couple of days on the job at PMC Church.  I remember sitting down at my desk (conveniently crammed right next to the church secretaries desk), unpacking my office supplies, opening my laptop (the one I bought in college) and staring at a blank screen wondering what I should do.  It was an intimidating feeling, because I knew that I was finally doing exactly what I had been trained to do and exactly what I had desired to do since Jr. High, but the big question was what did that look like in the day to day part of my new job.

It seems that one of the common mistakes that young pastors make (and that I’m certainly guilty of making) is to spend their first several months or even their first several years focusing their attention on changing programs, or upgrading systems, or renovating services.  One of the primary reasons for this is that these activities yield tangible results.  When you get to a new church, if you don’t like the way the bulletin is laid out, you can change it and everyone can see that you’ve changed it.  The problem with this approach to the first years of ministry is that, while it yields tangible results, it distracts you from what you are supposed to be doing.  JI Packer said, “never let the good be the enemy of the best”.  In this case, there are three areas that are far more important than programming, they are 1) People, 2) Preaching, 3) Prayer. 

I would propose to you that all of your ministry should be consumed with these 3 things, but especially your first 2 years, because these are the 3 areas that are most needful in your ministry.

People: What I mean by focusing on people is that you must focus on forming lasting relationships with your flock.  When you are hired at a church, you are the pastor by position (you were hired to be their pastor), but you are not yet truly the pastor.  To become a true pastor requires relationships and that is people work.  Your early years of ministry must be consumed with spending time with people.  You must devote yourself to hospital ministry, to taking people to coffee and finding out about their lives, to biblical counseling (I know of no greater way to connect with your sheep than counseling), to going to people’s homes for dinner.  In short, you must care for the sheep by forming relationships.

Preaching:  This should be self-evident, but pastors are preachers.  It’s shocking today how many pastors refuse to do the hard work of preaching.  Instead, they buy their sermons online, forgetting their Greek and Hebrew and generally being lazy about handling the Word of God.  It must not be so with you!  Drew, you will stand before the judgment seat of God and give an account for your preaching, so you must devote yourself to the faithful exposition of God’s Word.  This is also one of the most powerful tools that you have as a pastor, because your people will inevitably be shaped by your preaching as you accurately bring the Word of God to bear on their hearts.

Prayer: To be honest, this is probably the hardest of these 3 categories because there is so little accountability.  People know when you’re a bad preacher, and people know when you don’t really care about them, but only God knows your prayer life.  The best quote that I have ever read about prayer comes from the pen of EM Bounds:

We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, and new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.

What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans but men – men of prayer.

As you devote yourself to being a man of prayer, God will take care of the rest of the details of your ministry.  As John MacArthur so often says, “You take great pains with the depth of your ministry and let God take care of the breadth of your ministry.”

‘Til Sin is Bitter Christ will not be Sweet,

Drew Buell

It's only fair to share...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrEmail this to someone

April 06 2009 07:00 am | Pastorals

Comments are closed.