Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's A Pastor For?

What is a pastor for?  Why are pastors even necessary?  Anyone can pray.  Anyone can preach.  Anyone can visit the sick, baptize, share communion, and teach.  There isn't anything a pastor can do that a so-called "ordinary" Christian can't do too.  So why do we call and set certain people apart and call them "pastor"?

When I was ordained a "Minister of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," I did the same thing as all pastors do.  I promised that I would follow the Word of God no matter what.  And that's what makes a church need a pastor, someone who will hold the church body accountable* to God's Word, someone who has been set aside as a sort of captain--not of the financial or organizational affairs of the church, but, rather, a sort of captain of the church's spiritual life, of it's connection to the will and Word of God.

Whether the specific title "pastor" is used or not, the role is needed as we read in Ephesians 4:
11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11–16)
The need of every local church to be led by the Word of God that makes them need someone to be their pastor.  If a Church is to be faithful, it must not just go along to get along.  It must be able to stand its ground when it comes to truth.  So the Lord equips the church with spiritual leaders, and those leaders are set aside through their promise to follow God's Word.

Pastors must be true to the truth.  They may be personally popular or not, more or less emotional, tall or short, old or young, plain spoken or eloquent, personally friendly or intense, male or female.  None of this really matters.  What really matters is their adherence to the truth of the Word of God and their willingness to teach and preach and live according to that Word, no matter what.  This is what I promised in 1986, and this is what I will do whenever I am called as a pastor, so help me God.

*It's good when "ordinary Christians" hold their pastors accountable to the Word of God too.  If you believe I or any pastor are falling away from the Word of God in what we teach and preach, or in how we live, go to them personally, as a sister or brother in Christ, and show them where you believe they have erred, or discuss with them any serious question.  For more guidance on that, see Matthew 18:15.

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