Posted by: Jeff D. | April 7, 2010

Called to Gospel Ministry

(UPDATED 1/6/15)

Calling
Since my conversion to Christ in 1991, I have had an interest in full-time Christian ministry. After a number of years of organizing conferences, speaking at conferences and church related events, I was directed to finish my college education, go to seminary and pursue pastoral ministry, which I was excited to do. I graduated from Greenville Seminary on May 23, 2014, and currently serving as an intern at Covenant OPC, Orland Park, IL. My wife fully supports my desire to enter into pastoral ministry.

The Ministerial Office
The ministerial (Pastor) office is an office, established by Christ, first with the apostles. The apostles laid the foundation for the church and ordained men to build on that foundation. The pastoral office is a special office, a holy calling, separate from secular employment. While this is a high calling, the nature of the office is service. A pastor is an under-shepherd, under the chief shepherd Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve; giving His life in the service of people. During Jesus’ early ministry, he spent time with, healed, touched, cried, washed the feet, taught and preached to many people.

Similarly, an under-shepherd is called to continue the work of Christ, through the power of God the Holy Spirit. The shepherd should “smell like his sheep” (remembering that he also is a sheep) doing all he can to minister the Word of God to his people and those who may potentially come under his care. The pastor’s main responsibility is prayer and the ministry of the word: preaching, teaching, counseling, and training (Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). It is the desire of both my wife and me to serve one congregation for as long as the Lord allows.

The Weekly Schedule (subject to change since pastor’s schedules should be flexible)
Sketching out a weekly schedule is of great importance, and while a rigorous schedule is necessary, a pastor’s schedule must also be flexible. My work schedule would be Tuesday through Sunday, Monday being a day off. The morning hours, for me, are best spent in preparing sermons and lessons. Preparation hours would be until 11am. At 11am I will check messages. From 11:30am-1pm will be my scheduled lunch, which may consist of meeting with unbelievers, members of the congregation, or with my family. The rest of the day will consist of study and visitation. Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings will be periods of scheduled visitations with members of the congregation. These visits may consist of hospital visits, home visits, visiting members at work or visiting with men who desire to serve in the ministry. Tuesday and Thursday will not be the only days for visitation, but these will be days for scheduled visitations. Wednesday is a day of study and preparation for the Wednesday Bible study and prayer meeting. Friday and Saturday (along with other mornings of the week) will be devoted to sermon preparation. Other items of ministry (see below) will be worked into the schedule.

Our home will regularly (when appropriate) be opened to members of the congregation and to visitors. I believe it is important to have members (families) in our home, setting a godly example for the congregation to do likewise.

Preaching and Teaching
My desire is to see that the people under my care, be well feed. When people leave church, my prayer will be that they know God has spoken to them through His word, and with the knowledge of how God would have them to live. The best way to do this is to preach consecutive expository sermons. I believe that textual-topical sermons are appropriate and for the most part, would be reserved for the evening service. To the best of our (the sessions) ability, the sermons, the Sunday School, and other materials should all coincide with one another. Sunday School may be a time (if after the sermon) to expand on the sermon, looking at the passage or topic deeper than what would be covered in the sermon. My sermons will be a minimum of 30 minutes, and no more than 45 minutes in length.

Visitation
In order to get to know the congregation and “figure out” how best to minister to them, it is important to visit them on a regular bases. During these visitations, it is important ask questions, listen, read scripture and pray. I will not normally visit women without an elder or my wife to accompany.

Working with the Session
God has designed pastors to work with a body of men (the session) who are to make decisions with reference to the spiritual life of the church. The pastor does not rule the church; he does not have the last word, but the pastor along with other called men, do. Christ rules his Church, but he does this by his Spirit in the heart of ordained men. These men together are to serve the congregation by teaching, counseling, encouraging, and protecting the flock of God. The pastor is to work closely with these men; Perhaps the closest men in the pastor’s life are the ruling elders. These men are to know and love each member of the congregation, being available for spiritual (as well as other) help. The elders should be able to help the pastor apply the word in the preaching of the word to the congregation. I do believe it is important that the elders keep an eye out for young men who may have desire for, and show (in seed form) gifts for ministry. If there is such a young man, or men, I would make it a priority to spend time with them, training them as much as time allows.

Church discipline is important and should not be neglected, therefore both the pastor and the ruling elders are not to shirk this responsibility. At at the same time, elders are not to look for trouble.

Special Ministries
Children and youth of communicant members are a part of the church and should be treated as such. I do not believe there should be a special children/youth worship service; instead, children should be with their family during public worship. The pastor’s responsibility is to address not only the children and youth in the sermon, but also middle-aged, elderly, rich, poor, widows, married, single, etc. A congregation is made up of many different people from different walks of life. The pastor, in his preaching, should address each one. I will be the pastor of youth, but not a Youth Pastor. The pastor is the shepherd of all of his flock, and it is his business to be involved with children as well as adults. I do believe it is appropriate to have Sunday School(s) geared toward children. On a regular bases, the children will study doctrine, and the catechism will be a means to that end.

Additional (local) places I would be interested in ministering are prisons, and a retirement community or assisted living facility. It is important that the congregation be involved in ministering to the community; and a pastor needs to set the example.

Community Involvement
The pastor’s involvement in the community is important. This would be accomplished by the items mentioned above, and others: hospital visitation, assisted living facilities, perhaps spending “regular” time at a local coffee shop, or local restaurant, getting to know the regulars, holding seminars/conferences on vital topics. If there is a local funeral home interested in having a pastor preach, I would be willing to participate. As much as I can, and as the session and time allows, I would involve myself in the community. I do believe, to the best of my ability, I should have friendly relations with ministers of other local denominations. On the other hand, I will not work with a church that has a woman pastor, or a church not committed to the historic Christian faith.

Presbytery/General Assembly
It is important for pastors to be involved in Presbytery. I would attend (as much as possible) and be involved in all Presbytery meetings. I do not believe the pastor needs to be at General Assembly every year, but when he is called, he should attend.

Family
The qualifications for ecclesiastical offices are found in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6 “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity. But if a man does not know how to manage his household, how will he take care of the church of God?” “namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.” I believe a man must continue, while in the ministry, to manage his household well. It is important that I do not neglect my wife or children. Not only are they members of the church, but my wife and children are the first sheep God has placed under my care. My wife will be a member of the congregation and should serve alongside the women of the church. My wife is not called to be a co-pastor.

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