When you’re a pastor, I don’t need to inform you that ministry is demanding. There’s sermon prep, counseling, managing employees, elders’ conferences, overseeing the price range, visiting the sick, and extra. It might really feel overwhelming. And the stress is barely intensified in church planting.
However an integral part to all wholesome pastoral ministry is the straightforward—but weighty—cost Paul offers to the Ephesian elders: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).
How can church planters heed Paul’s phrases, particularly when there’s a lot else to do?
First, we’d do effectively to note how the church is described in Acts 20:28: “the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” The church itself is an exquisite portrait that manifests the gospel. We’re hopeless on our personal, however God intervened. Christ’s blood bought a folks, rescuing them from slavery to sin and uniting them collectively as a household.
The church is an exquisite portrait that manifests the gospel.
One necessary implication, due to this fact, is that we pastors look after God’s church. It belongs to him, not us. He obtained it, and thus he ensures its final good. The Holy Spirit does appoint overseers to shepherd God’s flock, however we might do effectively to embrace our function as these beneath the authority of the Chief Shepherd.
As we labor to look after the sheep, there’s a lot we will be taught from precise shepherding work as a mannequin for pastoral ministry. I’ve discovered lots from James Rebanks’s ebook, The Shepherd’s Life. Ministry seasons can mirror seasons of the 12 months, not essentially within the precise calendar, however within the total rhythms of a church’s life.
For instance, springtime is when “lambing” happens, with a lot of new life and heavy calls for. It’s when shepherds work arduous to make sure the lambs get off to an excellent begin. Equally, the early days of planting a church may be as exhilarating as they’re hectic and tiring. Nevertheless it’s solely a season. If we perpetually stay and work in ministry on the tempo of the early days of planting, we’ll put on out the flock and destroy ourselves.
For shepherds, summer season is a season of relaxation and preparation, during which hay is made for the approaching 12 months. In the identical approach, it’s necessary to domesticate seasons of intentional relaxation for church buildings, purposefully slowing issues down. We’ve adopted a rhythm we name “Family Sundays”—we give our ministry groups a break, all youngsters be part of us all through the service, and we’ve a shorter sermon from one of many elders. Not solely does it assist our church to relaxation, nevertheless it’s additionally countercultural within the fixed hustle of our metropolis.
Autumn is when shepherds convey their sheep to competitions and auctions, and what they’ve labored arduous for reveals its worth. I’m not suggesting there’s an actual parallel to ministry right here, however there are seasons in a church’s life when long-planned methods and hopes come to fruition. Celebration is a crucial self-discipline in caring effectively for the flock. The church-planting pastor ought to shepherd the church to provide due to God, the Giver of each good and ideal reward (James 1:17).
Pastors have a accountability to look after the flock, particularly when it’s pricey.
Winter is a brutal time of struggling and hardship for shepherds. They undergo alongside the sheep, at instances questioning whether or not they’ll make it by way of. Pastors have a accountability to look after the flock, particularly when it’s pricey. This has been the toughest lesson for me to be taught in planting a church. A lot of the tales we hear are extra triumphalist, which appear to depart little room for enthusiastic about actual struggling. The darkish winter nights, whether or not within the church or in my very own soul, are sometimes essentially the most troublesome instances to maintain shepherding. However nothing builds better belief in a church than a well-navigated “winter” as shepherds look after the sheep, enduring struggling with them whereas pointing to Jesus.
Reply to Wants
Because the outdated saying goes, in case your solely software is a hammer, every thing begins to appear to be a nail. Usually, the zeal of church planters doesn’t mirror a full pastoral toolkit for assembly the wants of God’s folks. At instances, particularly early on, the weighty accountability to look after folks can result in “hovering over” them, making an attempt to micromanage their holiness and pursuit of Christ.
However we should do not forget that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to alter hearts, convict folks of sin, and breathe life into weary souls. There will probably be instances when a pastor’s look after folks requires confrontation of sin to be able to shield the unity and purity of the flock, and when wolves should be fought off. These fights are at all times pricey.
There are additionally instances when an offended sheep has an unseen wound that should be handled and cared for—when lethargy isn’t laziness however an indicator of a deeper melancholy that wants an encouraging phrase to raise a downcast spirit. Pastors also needs to do not forget that not all opposition is private; some is rooted in fears that may be addressed and cared for with a delicate phrase to take braveness. As a shepherd has to know his sheep, so a pastor must know his folks.
The admonition to ‘pay careful attention to all the flock’ is the essence of pastoral ministry, and due to this fact church planting.
Paul’s name to the Thessalonians is useful right here: “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thess. 5:14).
Church-planting pastors should at all times do not forget that they’re undershepherds of the Lord Jesus Christ. The admonition to “pay careful attention to all the flock” is the essence of pastoral ministry, and due to this fact church planting. It’s not an extraneous demand on prime of the already full to-do record.
Even within the pressure-packed work of planting a church, stay centered on this excessive calling. Humbly press on and the Chief Shepherd himself will carry you thru to an unfading reward.