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To Whom….

To whom are you loyal? To whom are you patriotic?

There is a massive discussion happening in our nation right now. All over a simple flag. For some the flag (the battle flag of Northern Virginia, commonly known as the “rebel” flag) represents their southern heritage. For many it doesn’t even represent the civil war (from whence it finds it’s origins) but rather southern heritage and culture more generally. For others however, the flag whole heartedly represents the civil war and the many argued issues surrounding that conflict. The debate began largely over the flying of this flag in South Carolina at the state capital. As the debate has heated up many retailers have chosen not to sell the flag and manufactures have decided to stop producing the flag.

All this discussion of patriotism loyalty and heritage got me thinking about us as Christians. As Christians this perhaps isn’t a debate for us. It is a matter of what the flag represents to different people, and perspective and feelings are hot points of emotion in any debate. I will not give my two cents on the specific topic.

However, as Christians we must be loyal and patriotic to another nation before America or the South. We are part of the nation (kingdom) of God. We don’t seek what is best for anything other than that nation first. This isn’t to say that we can be Red blooded Americans and be patriotic. Of course you can and should. But God and his kingdom must come first.

For some people America is their God. “America first” and literally Condemn (insert “d” word here) all the rest. This can’t be the case with us Christians.

We are to be sacrificial lovers of people. Not divided over man made lines. God comes first for Christians.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2015 in Events, News, Other

 

Rudiger Yearick – Quarter Back

As many of you know I am a graduate of Liberty University and about as big of a Liberty Fan as there comes. But, for college sports fans this is a dead time of year. Basketballs over, baseballs over, and its almost 100 days to kick off of football (my personal favorite). However, for the avid fan this is a time when coaches hit the recruiting trail. And every once in a while one of those recruits will go ahead and make a commitment to come to a school.

About a month ago one such recruit committed to Liberty. He is a quarter back from a school in Indian Trail NC. He looks to be a good ball player. He was well ranked especially for a recruit for Liberty. One particularly interesting thing was that this young man committed to play starting in 2016. That’s right, he still has more than a year before he takes a collegiate snap and a senior high school season to play. Another interesting fact is that he got offers to a few other schools other than Liberty.
He got offered to play for Cornell, Harvard, and Yale. Yeh that’s right, he committed to Liberty instead of 3 Ivy League schools.
I mean I love Liberty University but I will be the first to tell you it ain’t no Ivy League.

The really telling thing, and the reason I am sharing this story with you, is his announcement of commitment. He said:
“I am very excited to announce that I have committed to play football at Liberty University. I am very thankful for the opportunity Liberty has given me and for people God has put in my life to help me get this opportunity. I can’t wait to see what God has planned for my future at Liberty!”

It seems that Rudiger has decided to play football at a school that honors Christ, and promotes Christ, while helping him strengthen his walk with Christ.

So why do I share this? Is it to brag about Liberty, well of course. But more importantly it is to ask: could you turn down a chance to go to an Ivy League school for a chance to honor God? Would you?

Am I saying you couldn’t honor God if you went to an Ivy League school? Certainly not. But what I am saying is that this young man made such a choice. He chose to give up what is regarded as one of the most desirable educations in the country to go to a school that honors Christ. Sometimes in life we have to make choices where one option might seem better for us but the other option brings more Glory to God. So which one will you choose?

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Other

 

Should Pastors be Paid?

This will be the last post of our “What is a Pastor” Blog Series and let me begin by saying this isn’t me pushing for a raise or anything. This is a issue that some people do have questions about. It is also an issue that is hard for most pastors to address because it looks like they are pushing for a raise. So let’s look at scripture.

Galatians 6:6 says: One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.

1 Corinthians 9:13-14: 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings?14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

It is fairly clear here that the church as a responsibility to care for those that minister in and through them. The church already has a responsibility to care for the needs of those among them but these verses raise the bar when it comes to leaders in the church. However, there are two abuses to this situation that are prevalent in the modern church. On one side the church often approaches compensation with the business mentality of “what is the least we can get away with paying them”. This doesn’t bless those that are ministering to you, that isn’t double honor. An extension of this is the idea that, many churches once held (though it seems less common now), the preacher should be kept poor and humble. Once, again this is dishonoring to a person that is sacrificing their life for God and others.
The other abuse I see is church leaders that take the pay and really haven’t earned it or expect the church to sacrifice to pay them but they don’t sacrifice for the church financially.
This is in direct contradiction to Paul’s example as he worked a secular job so as to not burden the ministry. 1 Thess, 2:9.

So in short, yes, a pastor should be provided for. However, it is important to note that that isn’t always in the form of a check. In modern day just giving the pastor a salary is probably the easiest way to provide for the pastor. However, there have been many times in history and in many situations where it would be easier to give the pastor produce, a house, a car, do his laundry, etc. instead of paying him money. Furthermore, some pastors may be bi-vocational or have a lucrative career and thus don’t need the money but the bible doesn’t say that you have to pay them but rather that you take care of them. So even though the pastor or church leader doesn’t have need of a salary they probably still could use other things. They could use help around the house, a baby sitter so he and his wife could have a date night, encouragement, a vacation, etc. Leading a church and pastoring people takes a lot of time and that is something that doesn’t change regardless of how much money they make or where it comes from. In short take care of your pastors and church leaders. So that they can help take care of you.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2015 in What is a Pastor

 

What are Pastors Good For?

 

 

 

 

We have discussed what a pastor is biblically, what their role is in the church, how they relate to church leadership, what biblical eldership and deaconship are, and today we will look at what a pastor/church leader is for. In other words why do churches employ pastors. What are the benefits for having a vocational pastor? Next week we will look at weather or not a pastor should be paid.

There are several Christian traditions that don’t employ vocational ministers and even more that share pastors or don’t have vocational ministers in smaller churches, and more and more churches are employing bi-vocational ministers largely do to the financial burden that employing someone brings and the small size of many congregations. So why have a pastor/church leader who has as their primary duty in life leading the church?

Though many reasons could be offered I will offer four today.

  1. Pray.
    Prayer is something all Christians should be involved in. However, prayer can become quite intense, weighty, and time consuming. None of these factors are to be an excuse for any Christian to not be in intense prayer, however, their is much benefit for the church to have a person that can be intently devoted to prayer, for the church and its members.
  2. Pastor the Flock
    Once again there are many people that are responsible for pastoral care in a church. Furthermore, all Christians should have caring relationships with others. But, especially in modern society it is a great asset to have a person to be available at almost anytime to do weddings, funerals, care visits, baby dedications, and the like. Note this doesn’t lessen the responsibility of any other Christians, it merely serves as an additional benefit.
  3. Pastoral Presence in the Community
    Churches employ pastors (or should) so that their communities can have the benefits of having people with those gifts, knowledge and mind sets common to pastors. I am a firm believer that pastors should be out in the community serving, knowing people and being known. This will look different for every pastor but he certainly shouldn’t be in his office all day.
  4. Specialization
    Just as a carpenter knows carpentry and a lawyer knows the law so does having a vocational minister allow him to specialize in knowing about church. It is one of the roles of a pastor/church leader, to be knowledgeable and be a continual learner, and not just in areas they are interested. Having a vocational minister provides the church with a person of expertise in church work and life and a person that is in constant study of scripture and other sources to bring new knowledge to bare on the current situations of that church.

These are four notable (though certainly not exclusive) reasons why there is great benefit to having a vocational minister. Though these four points may not be explicitly stated in scripture these concepts are certainly found there.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Other

 

Who leads the Church?

If the position of pastor is more inline with a gift, that is likely given to multiple people within a singular church and those persons may be vocational ministers or not and they may be leaders in the church or not, than a positional leader then the question looms: Who leads the Church?

We have mentioned several times in this blog series the position of elders, and even more briefly deacons. We will discuss in this post what Elders and Deacons are and, as best as we can understand, what their roles where biblically. We will use the terms elders and deacons but understand that these terms are translated in different translations in multiple ways, such as: Pastors, presbyters, elders, overseers, bishops, deacons, etc.

We must first understand that the role of elders and deacons are not meant to be fulfilled by one person each. This is what we call a plurality of Elders. We see this most prominently in Acts 20:17 where Paul calls for the (plural) elders of the (singular) church at Ephesus.

Secondly, we must see that there are in fact two different offices here and not just a slip of translation. We see this most prominently in 1 Timothy 3 where the qualifications of an elder are listed followed by the qualifications of a deacon. These are two different words, and two different offices.

So what is it that the elders do? Biblically speaking a church would have a group of people to lead the church. They would do what traditional western churches think of as the job of the pastor. There are a whole host of reasons why a group of people would be preferable to just one. There would not be dictatorial role, and there would be a sharing of the work load. Those are probably the two most significant reasons. The bible doesn’t speak of the pastorate in a leadership capacity. The only time one might argue other wise is that Timothy is referred to as the pastor of a church. But as we have said the pastorate does have responsibilities of influence and thus in that regard is leadership.

Next we must look at Deacons. This idea of a second group of leaders in the church is foreign to most churches. But as we have already seen was quite clearly understood by the early church. The confusion about “deacons” is understandable considering they are rarely mentioned in scripture. However, I believe we see a clear enough example in Acts 6. Most commentators agree that this is where we see the beginning of Deacons (even though it is not explicitly stated.) In Acts 6 there are a group of people not being ministered to. The elders/Apostles commanded the people to select men to lead in this area. What this shows us is that deacons are the hands-on leaders. They serve in specific areas. They are associated with a particular ministry.

How do we get Elders and Deacons.
The best and most biblical way is for them to be appoint from among the congregation of the church. The example we see of elders is that elders elect new elders when necessary. We see this in Acts 20 and Titus 1 where Paul instructs Timothy and Titus respectively to appoint elders. However, we see in the case of the Deacons in Acts 6 that the people are given perimeters and then the congregation selects the Deacons. It seems that either a congregational appointment or appointment by the current elders or some variation of the two would be a biblically sound way to receive elders and deacons. However, though appointing from within would always be preferable there is a biblical example of someone being placed in leadership from outside of a congregation. The best example of this in scripture is Paul sending Timothy to lead a church he had not otherwise been a part of.

Understand the bible doesn’t give many specifics as to how the church is to be organized and lead. There is the constant reminder that we are all part of the body of Christ and thus all have a part to play. There is the directive for  multiple elders and deacons. And there is the teaching on the various giftings  that come with them influence but other than that God has entrusted the church leaders to seek him and create the specifics of how the church is organized to fit that church’s unique vision and situation.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Other

 

Who is a Pastor?

The next logical question to be answered in this series on “what is a pastor” is who fulfills the duties of a pastor in the church. We said in the last post that a pastor/teacher has two sides of responsibility. One side is that of the care giver and the other is that of the teacher. The pastor shapes the practical theology of the church as he teaches while giving care. For such guidance he is responsibly and has a great impact.

In the church there are three people or groups of people that are responsible for fulfilling the biblical duties of the pastor.

1) Lay Persons 
The spiritual gift of pastoring is not something given just to vocational ministers. God has given the gift of pastoring to people throughout the church. We can not expect one man to be the only stitches, and the only glue that holds the social and communal fabric of the church together. We are all called to care for those which we have relation with inside the church. John 13:35 states “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” But, there are those that are particularly gifted in this regard and it should be understood that those person’s means of servicing the community of faith is through pastoral care.

2) Elders
Biblically speaking the church is to be lead by a group of persons, not one man and not in a democratic system. Rather a group of elders is to be elected from the people to serve the church and lead the church. The tasks of this group of elders falls to the primary leadership of the church. One of the most significant roles of elders is to care for the people which are in that church. Acts 20:28 says to the elders “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” We see here further use of the shepherding metaphor.

3)Traditional Pastors
Last but not least is the role of the traditional pastor. I am not speaking of the biblical pastor here but the traditional use of the term pastor, that is to say the leadership of the church. Those in leadership have a responsibility to emulate Jesus and have compassion and concern for those he leads. This may not be his spiritual gift (as it isn’t in my case) but as leaders they must care for those the lead, this is what we call being a servant leader. In this 1 Peter 5:2-3 reminds us to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock”.

I hope we all see now that a pastor and the work of pastoring is not just the job of the guy that preaches but of several people from a congregation. It is in all of our best interests if we will use and work in our spiritual gifts and allow others and our leaders to do the same.

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2015 in What is a Pastor

 

The Job of a Pastor

The word Pastor is only found once in the English translation of the New Testament, and since we are talking of pastors of the church and the church didn’t start until the New Testament, that is the most direct reference we have to the position or gifting of a pastor. That being said the same Greek word is used several other times in the New Testament, but translated primarily as shepherd and mostly in reference to Jesus. The idea of a pastor of people is also found in the Old Testament but obviously is not directly addressing the Church. The one time this word is translated as “Pastor”is in  Ephesians 4 the very passage we have been discussing. So how are we to know what the actual qualities of a pastor are if it only appears in a list once in the bible. Well, we look for other passages that might have something to do with it based on what we know of the world pastor. The word pastor comes form the idea of shepherding or of a pastoral profession (i.e. livestock farming).

The two most helpful passages for our discussion are 1 Peter 5:1-3 and Acts 20:28.

1 Peter 5:1-3 states:
“Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

The word shepherd here comes from the same word pastor in Ephesians 4. So we see that a pastor is to care for those under his care as a shepherd would his sheep. An interesting point here in 1 Peter is that he addresses the body of elders over the church, and reminds them of their “pastoral” responsibility, not a single man.  We will discuss the place of elders/deacons in a later post but understand the elders are the leaders of the church the final authority of the workings of the church and as such are responsible to see that all of the commands to the church are observed not the least of which being care and concern for the individuals that comprise the community of the church.

The second reference that is particularly helpful in understanding the qualities of a pastor is Acts 20:28 which states:
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God,which He purchased with His own blood.

We see the teacher aspect of the pastorship in this verse. The pastor may not be the preacher, he may not be a theologian, and he may not even be the primary teacher, but he is responsible for the spiritual teaching inside the church. The context of this verse speaks of people that will come to churches and teach things not in line with the bible that are ultimately harmful for the people of God. It is the pastor’s job to notice this and address the issue in what ever way would be necessary in the particular situation.

What these and other verses show us is that the pastor’s duties are two sided. One side is the traditional thoughts of a pastor. The compassionate care giver. The comforter in times of trouble, the chaplain, the counselor. This is the shepherd side of pastoral ministry. The pastor also has teaching responsibilities in that he will ultimately be responsible for the teachings that are propagated amongst  those he pastors.

This discussion of the Pastor is likely more complex then most of us realize. However, God has designed a beautiful system for the church to share responsibilities and duties so that each person and serve where they and be most effect and passionate.

If you missed the previous posts in this series you can find them below.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in What is a Pastor

 
 
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