And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)
What’s the responsibility of your pastor? Well, it depends whom you ask.
Some Many congregations would say that the pastor should do the heavy-lifting of ministry around the church (visiting, counseling, preaching, outreach, mercy ministries, etc.). And they would be right…in one sense. A pastor, like any Christian, should be giving his time to carrying out the commands of Christ in his life.
But there’s a problem: this verse in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians seems to indicate that the congregation is actually the one doing the vast majority of ministerial work. Or, at least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. The work of the pastor is to equip the saints for the task, not to be doing it all.
This is most certainly not the case in many churches. Oftentimes, the pastor is paid to do the work for the church. They are treated as if they are some service provider, no different from the cable man or waiter, simply here to do the bidding of the church. But, of course, there is a spiritual veneer on it all.
What must be done about all of this?
I’ll begin with the congregants: do something. Anything. Just don’t sit there consuming the services of the churches while not actually contributing to the effort. I’m not saying that you have to start a new program at the church. As a matter of fact, you probably shouldn’t. Churches have
enough too many programs as it is. Keep it simple. Invite your unbelieving neighbors over for dinner, build friendships with them, and seek to preach the gospel in word and deed. Or maybe meet with a new believer for an hour a week to read and pray together. Or go carry groceries to a shut-in who can’t drive around. That’s doing the work of ministry. To not do so is disobedience to the word of God; it’s sin. This is not the cherry on top of the Christian life.
Now, let me talk to you pastors. Stop trying to be a one-man army. You’re not. Here’s an idea for you: try to work yourself out of a job. Empower your members to live out their faith in all walks of life, and entrust the Word “to faithful men who will be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2).” Minister in such a way that the congregation will thrive even when you’re not there. I know, it’s an unconventional idea, but you should try it.
Far too many churches are stagnant, choosing to make only the slightest impact on their communities while great potential fills the pews week after week.
Are you tired of settling for mediocrity in the church? Well, stop settling, and start living out the Word of God.
That’s novel, right?