By: J.T. Pugh
A person receives authority in order to carry out certain assigned duties and responsibilities. Let us discuss some of the duties and
responsibilities for which God has given the pastor the authority to carry out.
Communicating Jesus Christ
The pastor is responsible to communicate Jesus Christ to the congregation by his preaching, his teaching, and most of all his
example. (See I Corinthians 11:1.)
W.C. Parkey once stated, “Many things are conveyed to us by being taught. Many more things are learned by us by being caught.” We learn more by the examples we observe than by words we hear.
Consciously or unconsciously. everyone has a mentor. Ideals will not remain for consideration in our consciousness unless we are able to personalize them. Leaders become points of reference toward which followers gravitate in some measure. A leader will have a profound influence on some of his followers. He may have a small influence on other people to whom he is responsible. But over a period of time, he will influence in some way everyone who is under his jurisdiction.
As Christian leaders, it is extremely important that our example be correct, and the correct example is Jesus Christ. The most important thing that any pastor can do is to demonstrate the character and principles of Jesus Christ to his congregation.
Whatever the supreme purpose of God is for each saint, it is the duty of the preacher to help bring that purpose about in the life of the saint. After all, is not the pastor a servant of God to the people? According to the Scripture, the supreme purpose of God for each saint is for him “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29).
No pastor can be truly instrumental in conforming his congregation to the image of Jesus Christ unless he himself has an intimate relationship with Jesus. To truly bring a Christian influence into a church congregation, the pastor must have assimilated Jesus into his life. If he does not do so, there will not be any real “Jesus life” either in himself or in those who follow his example.
It is possible to preach often about Jesus and yet never truly introduce Him to a congregation. Jesus is not only the Word but also the Spirit. A true relationship with Him is spiritual. It is important to preach Jesus Christ correctly in word just as He is. It is equally important that we preach Him not in our spirit but in His Spirit. If we do not, we may find ourselves standing with Jesus in doctrine but demonstrating the world, the flesh, or the devil in principle.
Paul described two kinds of motives of preaching Christ: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely,… but the other of love… What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached” (Philippians 1:15-18). We could confidently add to this description that under either kind of ministry some sort of congregation is raised up. One kind of congregation is gathered by the persuasion and influence of man. It is a product of a turbulent human spirit that is not at peace with God or man. Consequently, such congregations are often adversarial, defensive, and without the quality of peace that Jesus alone can give. (See John 14:27.)
The pastor has a responsibility to communicate Jesus Christ to the people by the Word of God. The teaching and preaching of the Word was never meant to be for the sake of entertainment, but it should always communicate truth, for it is truth that will convict, instruct, encourage, and warn. (See II Timothy 4:2.)
The preacher’s great concern should be that he truly is communicating the Word to the people. A preacher defrauds his congregation if he merely plays upon their emotions. Of course, as Pentecostals we should have strong emotional experiences in our services. But emotion alone is not sufficient. The deep, solid principles of God’s Word must become a part of the lives of the people that we attempt to pastor. If the Word is communicated and people receive it, the results are always positive. But if the preacher – because of himself, circumstances, or the people – is not able to communicate the Word, the results are negative.
It does not take very much sensitivity to know whether people are actually understanding and receiving what a preacher is attempting to say. Many times I have come from the pulpit and walked slowly down the aisle with a cordless microphone. I have spoken slowly and deliberately, looking straight into the faces and the eyes of people. I have often reached out to touch people with my hand as I spoke. I wanted to demonstrate that the Bible lesson or the sermon was not simply a performance but a very sincere effort on my part to communicate with them.
Sometimes the sensitive undershepherd will know that people are not capable or willing to receive some particular portion of God’s Word. To attempt to force it upon them through constant repetition is usually not productive. Sometimes the Word simply needs to be spoken to them as a witness prior to judgment, but this is not often.
Jesus Himself did not attempt to teach things that people could not or would not receive. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). Jesus taught us not only to respect people but also to respect the Word of God and the principles of the Word. He told us in Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”
Paul refrained from attempting to communicate truths that the Corinthians were not able to receive. “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (I Corinthians 3:2). Paul believed that in time the Corinthians would be able to receive a more solid and sound teaching from the Word of God. In the meantime, while the church was in the process of learning and maturing, he communicated to them on their particular level of growth.
The caring undershepherd will sense the ability of his congregation to receive particular types of teaching. Inasmuch as he desires above all things to truly communicate with them, he will do as Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul did – adapt himself to the circumstance, yet always attempt to mature them and lead them into greater truth.
It is the responsibility of the pastor to bring encouragement to his people. (See Acts 15:30-32; II Timothy 4:2.) His communication will be enhanced if he remembers the environment that most of his people live in. Many precious lay persons work in situations that deplete them spiritually. Some working environments are filled with dirty words, profane jokes, and curses. In other environments, the value system may be one of materialism. Day by day, Spirit-filled Christians have to struggle to keep their priorities straight as they continuously move among people whose only concerns relate to this world and this age. In
such an environment, a Christian may change his values unless he is ministered to by a caring pastor and church.
It is much easier for me to preach sermons that relate to the needs of the people I pastor if I pray personally and individually for them. I often attempt to group them in my praying. As I pray for the older people of the church, I see them struggling with their physical limitations. I feature them in their loneliness. As I pray for housewives of the church, I try to remember those who have no transportation during the day and who are confined to a house with several small children. I try to sense the monotony of day-by-day housework. I attempt to go in the spirit of prayer with the brethren as they work on their jobs. As I pray in this manner usually particular passages of Scripture come to me that address these situations. This prayer is often the basis of my preaching to the church family.
When people experience trauma, they certainly need the loving care of their pastor. I once heard a good layman make a statement that he did not mean to be critical: “At that time my pastor did not seem as sensitive to my pain as I had hoped he would be.” As pastors, we should strive to be closely attuned to the needs of our people so that we can minister encouragement and grace to them.
It is the responsibility of the pastor to oversee and manage the activities and departments of the church. (See Acts 20:28; I Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17.) He must “feed the flock.,,, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” (I Peter 5:2). Obviously the church needs leaders such as department heads, but the pastor must bear the ultimate responsibility. When some aspect of the church’s work seems to lag, it is the duty of the pastor to offer encouragement, suggestion, and help to the departmental superintendent.
It is the responsibility of the pastor to manage the cash flow of the church. If he is unorganized in his personal budgeting and wasteful with personal money, then he will probably be careless with the church’s money also. The apostle Paul asked, “If a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (I Timothy 3:5). His duty to govern and take care of the church includes the management of money. This does not mean that he must handle the money. In a smaller church, this may be necessary, but as a church becomes larger, other arrangements are more appropriate and efficient. But it does not matter how large the church gets, the final management of the money is going to be the responsibility of the pastor.
There are two areas especially in which a pastor can never afford to fail. One is in morals. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD” (Isaiah 52:11). The other is the astute management of the church’s money. The church will not forgive a pastor who has no respect for these factors in his pastoral responsibility.
The pastor should have a very strong concern not to allow the church to be overly burdened with debt. There are times to restrain a church board or a church congregation from voting for a mortgage that the church is not really able to handle. The pastor is in a position to know; more about the income and expense of the church than anyone else.
The pastor is responsible for the monetary condition of the church. I heard a man defend himself before a district board once by saying, “Those bills belonged to the church.” A board member responded by saying, “When you took the pastorate, it was similar to a marriage. All of the affairs of the church became your responsibility. You became responsible for those bills.”
Equipping for Growth
It is the responsibility of the pastor to be progressive in his leadership. He should have in mind a spiritual level to which he desires to lead his congregation. He should have a growth goal in mind. Of course, to do so he will also have to think about the physical expansion of his church, or perhaps a new location.
The most important aspect of growth is the spiritual growth of the church. The Lord has placed various ministries in the church that are effective in generating growth. It is doubtful that one man would possess all of these ministries. For this reason a good pastor reaches out for varied ministries. He wishes his congregation to be balanced in their spiritual concept and growth.
How wonderful it is that God has provided all that is needed for the spiritual growth of any congregation. “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). These five categories of ministry are given to the corporate body of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13 describes the purpose for the fivefold ministry: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In other words, the fivefold ministry equips the saints so that they can fulfill their proper function in the church. The result is the spiritual growth of the body.
The movement described here is purposeful and objective: it is toward a perfect man, toward the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This movement occurs with a spiritual attitude of mindset: seeking the “unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God.” This is to be the mindset of the maturing church.
Perhaps our churches will never be absolutely the same in the methods that we employ, but if we truly believe in Jesus and the basic doctrines of salvation that introduce us to Him, and if we come to truly know Him in intimate personal relationship, our movement toward “the stature of the fulness of Christ” should be a natural development. Thus it is a duty of the pastor always and in every way to proclaim and exalt Jesus. Jesus must be at the center of all things and in all considerations. He is our reason for being, and He should be the reason for everything that the church does.
(The above material appeared in the July/September 1992 issue of FORWARD.)
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