Friday, October 2, 2009

The Work of the Ministry - My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter

Christians are an interesting group of folks. When they think of ministry, they are more likely to think of it as an occupation or vocation -- plumber, pastor, or car thief. As believers we often assume that because many ministers go to school for a masters degree in divinity - M-Div in the business, that they have lots of answers for us in negotiating the treacherously narrow path known as the will of God. This is not always the case.

In truth, when we look at the early church, we do not see this type of education in any of the apostles but Paul. As a Pharisee he was the only one that was formally educated in the scriptures. I doubt that he took homiletics, pastoral counseling or classes on exegetic principals. And like any human, before he had an experience with a living God, he was legalistic about the Scriptures even using them to decree death - sound familiar? After the experience on the road to Damascus, Paul became revelatory - the latter being of God. The scriptures could not be interpreted intellecually - and they still can't!

The modern pastor often is expected to be a CEO of sorts, an administrator, preacher and teacher; peacemaker, toilet cleaner and a host of other things for a salary that is often below what others without a master degree make.

The ministry is supposed to be about the calling, not the money, yet we treat our leaders like the HR department in a large corporation. We measure their education, their experience and their references against what? Then we let them come preach a few sermons and accept or reject their application. Again, based on what?

I often wonder what a pastoral search committee would do with a resume like Peter’.

Peter the Fisherman - Jerusalem, Israel - 555- DIE-4GOD

SKILLS: Fishing, net tying, big mouth, liar and coward

Worked with Messiah 3BC - 0 AD
Fisherman 20 BC - 3 BC

EDUCATION: Basic Hebrew

OBJECTIVE: Seeks pastoral position.

I have seen this countless times in the churches around the globe. Churches get tangled up in voting, personal agendas, religiousness, and denominational infighting. I know that it doesn't happen everywhere, but I bet you know a place where it has.

I read another blog that says that we shouldn't identify ourselves with or gifting - you know, Pastor So-And-So, Teacher Know-It-All and Toilet Cleaner Dave. These titles only encourage egos. And they easily can.

I read another blog that quoted this verse:

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, Ephesians 4:10-13 NKJ

-- suggesting that we have pastors, teachers and evangelists, apostolic and prophetic folks. Hmmm... 3 nouns and two adjectives. What?

And of course there is the endless gift list starting in Romans 12, flying through 1 Corinthians 12 and screeching to halt in Ephesians 4:11; lumping them all together as if gifting and calling are the same.

You need to answer these questions for yourself. What am I gifted in, and what am I called to do? And more importantly, can God use me right now, right here, for His purpose?


photogr said...

Well I know I am not gifted in Portrait photography any more after dealing with a cantankerous new flash head for portraits at the Vineyard prom.

Gifts ? I am still working on that one. I am doing what I am called to do. I think God knows he can use me but I don't think He knows what to do with me yet. At my age, I am sure He knows my limitations.

Anonymous said...

David, you are a great writer and you post hits western "ministry" thinking squarely on the head; I really do like Peter's resume. Thomas may have had a more impressive resume that would appeal to the majority.

Mesha said...

YES, God can and WILL use right here, right now for HIS purpose if I will be a vessel ready to be used! :) Thank you for this post - I thought it was great! Very good, relevant topic - what DOES qualify a preacher of gospel. If I recall...the great commission calls us ALL to go and preach the gospel...I love that quote that says, "preach the gospel and sometimes use words." We should all be living it each and every day and if God affords opportunity to share the love of Christ and message of His cross - then we should be ready for it. "Be ready IN season AND OUT of season." Not everyone will have a congregation, not everyone will be titled a "pastor," but we ALL are to share the great hope we have found through Jesus Christ and no education system taught me that (especially since I went to public, but the Holy Spirit reveals that great hope to us...the qualification you ask? A receptive heart! (Found your blog from Tony C's page...I'm a new follower of yours now.) God Bless!

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