Ministry 6 Who and What

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A happy congregation

In this installment, I’d like to talk about how we know who God is “putting” into the ministry. How do we come to identify the candidates for this honorable role?  What do we look for?

We’ve said quite a bit about who should not be in the ministry.  One cannot unilaterally choose the ministry for himself as his career choice.  But,now, I’d like to discuss who should actually be put into that position as defined by biblical indicators.

Eldership is bestowed by other elders laying hands on the candidate. This in itself shows that is a process that requires approval by other elders to bring on a new elder. The laying on of hands by elders also signifies a granting of additional gifts to the new elders.  Note what Paul said to Timothy in referencing his ordination: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (II Timothy 1:6) The Apostle Paul is encouraging the young Timothy to draw upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to him at the time of his ordination. 

What might constitute the outcomes of the “gift of God?”  In large part it’s found in the pastor’s mindset, conversion, behavior and the fruits of his oversight of the congregation. 

In I Timothy 3 and in Titus there is a checklist of qualifications that include the following: An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence.  As you see, most of this list centers on character and integrity. These are our expectations from our minister.

However, throughout the New Testament there are other indications of a pastor’s ability.  Here’s one relating to the pastor’s safeguarding the congregational environment: “Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24, King James Version). It is vital that the pastor create a climate where growth takes place in relationships to God and to one another; where one is not oppressed or smothered by someone having “dominion” over their faith.

Going to church and being involved in the Church ought to be a joyous experience. And, it’s the pastor’s responsibility to make it so in spite of the typical challenges of human behavior.  A pastor is one who carefully creates a place where acceptance, peace, approachability to him and one to another in the congregation in the norm. He skillfully makes certain that conflicts don’t escalate. Weekly church assembly is a place where people WANT to be because they benefit  from congregational interaction: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

As of this writing (November 2, 2018) we are in the midst of a Pastor Development Program at the Home Office in Cincinnati. As we are preparing new congregational leaders for the United Church of God we discuss these concepts as they will be the key to their success as future pastors.

I’ll have more examples in the next installment.

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