I finished the previous post on this topic, Ohhhhhhhh, Pastor! (Part Two) by stating that the function and influence of a pastor based merely upon a POSITIONAL basis, meaning title and office of a religious organization, will not/cannot achieve God’s purpose of Christ’s pastoral grace that is intended to flow to the Body. The shepherding grace of Christ , which by His Nature, is intended to function strictly on a RELATIONAL basis is an essential part of the means by which believers will have Christ formed in them and, accordingly, be released to function in the Body of Christ.
Please notice: If believers are truly equipped according to an accurate function of Christ’s grace (pastoral……or through any of the other Christ Graces given to His Body) the saints will seamlessly function according to the same manner. When you take time to really study the New Testament scripture and observe how the Body is to function, you will see phrases such as, “as every joint supplies”, “fitly framed together”, etc……. which speak of proper RELATIONSHIP. If the end result is RELATIONAL, the means that can produce that result must be RELATIONAL; not merely POSITIONAL.
So, the previous paragraph is a nice way of saying the following: You cannot do in a 35 minute sermon on a Sunday morning (duration doesn’t really matter) what needs to be done in the life of God’s people in order to equip them. Heaping staffed programs and special activities on top doesn’t get ‘r done, either. Not even a well designed “discipleship” class worked into the mix will do the job. Only God’s MEANS AND METHODS will accomplish His MISSION.
We cannot define “Pastor” simply as we want or even in some extra-biblical fashion based upon religious traditions of men. Even further, our definition of “Pastor” should certainly not be according to a worldly corporation standard. While Super Pastors are trying to grow a church through media, masses and mammon, they have forsaken the DNA of the Chief Cornerstone from Whom a true Shepherding Grace is intended to flow.
If your intent is to “build a church’, you can work the above paradigm. Go ahead and knock yourself out…..because you eventually will! But, if you are interested in Christ building His Church, His Pastoral Grace must flow through a RELATIONAL context. The Graces which Christ imparted out of His fullness for the development of His Body are THE ONLY measures that can successfully supply what is required to fully equip and grow the Body.
At this point, I would like to reveal from a passage of scripture some key traits and characteristics of a Shepherd as Jesus described them. I know that Jesus said them because in the Bible it says, “Then Jesus said to them…” and, also, the words are in red ink! So, I reckon that if He said it, it must be pretty important.
The following is a summary of statements Jesus made about being a shepherd in John 10:11-16.
1.) Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
2.) Jesus gives His life for the sheep.
3.) A hireling, who is not the shepherd, leaves the sheep when the wolf comes.
4.) A hireling flees because he does not care for the sheep.
5.) Jesus is the good shepherd and KNOWS his sheep and he is KNOWN by his sheep.
6.) The Father KNOWS the shepherd. The shepherd KNOWS the Father. The shepherd’s life is laid down for the sheep.
There are so many things which can be said at this point! But, in order to be true to this post’s RELATIONAL context, I will simply point out the KNOWing listed in the passage. There is a KNOWing link between Father – Shepherd – Sheep. The other element mixed in with the KNOWing is a willingness of the shepherd, not just to risk his life for the sheep, but to willingly expend his life for the sheep.
So, here’s the rub. Most church-going Christians call a man “Pastor” who doesn’t even KNOW their name, much less the intricacies of their lives. If your “Pastor” hasn’t prayed WITH you and not just FOR you from a platform…….over a sound system…….while you sat in a room crowded with people……….you get the picture; chances are, he is NOT your Pastor! Because, Jesus said, “a shepherd KNOWS his sheep.”
And now, what about the KNOWing him? I can tell you from personal experience, it is hard to know someone by listening to him while he speaks from a platform and you sit in a pew. You can’t truly KNOW his character by simply watching the show on Sunday morning! It is hard to KNOW Super Pastor as he leaps from the platform with a single bound, retreats to his ice castle and takes refuge in his secret identity. Unless you have the access to his life and the opportunity to intimately walk through some things with him, you know like sheep in a pasture with a shepherd, you will not truly KNOW him relationally. And, according to Jesus’ words, a shepherd is “KNOWN by his sheep.”
Eternal Life comes from KNOWing (John 17:3) and if there isn’t any Life in something…………it is dead!
In God’s economy, the efficacy of “Pastors” is determined by the measure to which they are able to nurture and form Christ in the lives of those to whom they minister in the context of close, personal RELATIONSHIP. True biblical Pastors are unique functionaries! Wordly religions have their prophets, priests and evangelists but only God’s economy has yielded a special breed of person called shepherds. The reason for this distinction is because of Jesus Christ. He identified with our broken humanity and one major result was that He developed compassion for us! Shepherds are gifts of this particular facet of Christ’s Grace given to His Body. True Pastors have been given a shepherd’s heart because Father has dealt with them through their lifetime severely and they have come to KNOW and be KNOWN by the Great Shepherd Himself. And, for the lonely and broken human heart, trying to either put the pieces back together or be encouraged to continue Kingdom pursuits, there is no help, nor hope, like the Grace of Christ expressed through a man with a true shepherd’s heart!
A Personal Word
It is important for you to understand that I am not discussing simply a dream of what might be one day. Nor, am I referring to an ideal of what should be. God’s Order and God’s Ways actually exists in His People. It is “Christ in you” which is the hope of glory. Herein lies the essential need for believers to be developed and brought to maturity in Him.
God’s intention in the New Covenant is that all “ministry” be according to the “measure of the grace of Christ”. Initially, Christ’s grace flows out of His fullness actuated by the Ascension Gifts in order to equip saints to do the work of ministering to the Body. As the Body becomes operational, the saints then engage in ministering according to the graces of Christ which have been developed and freed in them. And the scripture is quite clear that “the Body builds itself up in love……”
I am extremely blessed. Not only do I have a true, biblical Pastor……..I have two! I’m such a mess that I need a tag-team effort!
They KNOW my stuff! Good and bad! They love me just the same. They guard me and watch over my soul, my marriage, my finances, my health, both physical and spiritual. Added to that is the fact that I KNOW them. I’ve been in there home. I’ve observed their relationships with their wives and family. I’ve seen how they take care of their personal business. I’ve prayed for them………..they’ve prayed for me……..we’ve prayed with one another! We’ve laid our lives down for one another!
But, it doesn’t stop there. As we have sought to be RELATIONAL, we have seen Pastors emerge from the lives of God’s people. People who had previously been supporting Super Pastor and “serving” in a church system as ushers, camera operators, nursery workers, etc….. as they were truly discipled, Christ was formed in them and released to function, their true calling and grace in the Body began to organically flow. We find them tucked away as “common” people, but when freed and functioning, my how they transform into dynamic expressions of Christ’s love and compassion!
The expression of Christ’s Pastoral Grace is multi-dimensional. We experience shepherds who teach and shepherds who bless others through the gift of giving. Common among us are shepherds who open their home up for hospitality and shepherds who are graced as encouragers and intercessors. We have come to see Elders in cities function by caring for and nurturing God’s people in a variety of distinctive ways but all in the same loving Spirit and Grace of the Great Shepherd.
As a result, that Pastoral Grace of Christ gets infused into the other members of the Body and the entire Body becomes Pastoral! Not that everyone is a Pastor. But, that Grace is shed abroad into the hearts of the people and the Body brings the fullness of its expression. A love and a care for one another as members of the same Body is developed and expressed and transcends the busy-ness of life and pre-existing, religious restrictions!
All I can say is that I used to do the Super Pastor thing! What I am experiencing now is so genuine, rich and satisfying it far and away surpasses anything I have ever known. No, it is not perfect. But, finally, I know a people who are interested in being perfected; meaning, letting go of what we have always known and receiving one another and the things that God has for us.
Okay. Enough for now. I am uncertain of where to take this topic next. I am going to pray and see if anything strikes me. If you have been following this thread of posts and you have any questions or suggestions regarding the topic, feel free to post them. I will address them as best I can and maybe that can serve as the direction for the thread.
Keep your peace!