Today's Expositor's Quote is from Bob Smith, an associate of Ray Stedman's at Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, CA:
Total Christian education should be our goal. . . . It's like a big burner: the expository pulpit ministry is the center of the burner, and the complementary efforts with their greater participation possibilities form the outer rings of the burner. This is the air-conditioning system of a church, maintaining a warm atmosphere and a climate conducive to spiritual health and growth.
Let's light up the Big Burner, not to make things hot for everyone, but to warm up the saints and condition the atmosphere. It can be the means by which we really hear from God, setting the whole tone of the ministry.
In order to do this we must get back to the kind of expository teaching that is dedicated to lifting out and presenting the true sense of the text so that God can reach our wills through our minds. This demands forthright declaration of truth in clarity and power. No wonder the early apostles decided they should "give themselves to the word of God and prayer" (Acts 6:4). . . .
One of my fellow pastors said one time: "The best thing that could happen to the church is for all the pastors to be put in jail." Obviously this was said somewhat facetiously and not because he hates pastors, for he is one. The point is that if all the pastors were removed from the scene, Christians would have to count on the ministry of the saints and so learn to trust the Lord to work through them, not just the paid professionals. How far we have strayed from God's original plan for the church, because in most churches the pastor is almost the whole show!
Actually, pastors are God's gift to the church, and his intentions were good. Along with apostles, prophets and evangelists, "his gifts were that some should be . . . pastors and teachers toward the fitting out of the saints [all God's people] for a work of ministry" (Eph. 4:12, a literal rendering). In other words, a pastor is sort of a "playing coach," not just on the bench, but in the game--not just telling the team what to do, but doing it with them so as to show them how.
This is quite different from what happens so often.
To summarize, pastors should be training people to:
Know any pastors? Are you one?
Bob Smith, When All Else Fails...Read the Directions: Discover God's Plan for a 'Living' Church, (Word Books, 1974), from Chapter 5: "God Gives Pastors -- For What?" p. 58-59. This book is available online in its entirety.
[Would your church be better off if you were put in jail? Are you equipping the saints for the work of the ministry? Or are you trying to do all the ministry yourself? May we be the "player coaches" God intends, neither playing on the field alone nor screaming from the sidelines, but modeling the Christian life in its entirety -- Coty]
[I recommend this provocative book; it is particularly helpful if read in conjunction with Alexander Strauch's Biblical Eldership.]
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