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Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Failure of Local Churches

I'm reading an amazing book called Dear Timothy. It's a clever concept written by a group of seasoned pastors as a series of letters to a young pastor who is just starting out in his first church. It has some great insights for anyone planning to go into the pastoral ministry, and I highly recommend it.

This post, however, is not meant to be a review.

I wanted to share a paragraph cited in the book from another book written by A.W. Pink. This is from Mark Dever's chapter entitled "Do the Work of an Evangelist" on page 163. Apparently, Pink was writing on a subject that is depressingly still relevant that was going on in Australia (his home?) in the 1920s. Allow me to share:

General religious conditions here are very similar to those which obtain in the USA. The vast majority of the churches are in a sorry state. Those that are out-and-out worldly are at their wits' end to invent new devices for drawing a crowd. Others which still preserve an outward form of godliness provide nothing substantial for the soul; there is little ministering of Christ to the heart and little preaching of "sound doctrine," without which souls cannot be built up and established in the faith. The great majority of the "pastors" summon to their aid some professional "evangelist," who, for two to four weeks, puts on a high-pressure campaign and secures sufficient new "converts" to take the place of those who have "lapsed" since he was last with them. What a farce it all is! What an acknowledgement of their own failure! Imagine C. H. Spurgeon needing some evangelist to preach the Gospel for him for a month each year! Why do not these well-paid "pastors" heed 2 Timothy 4:5 and themselves "do the work of an evangelist," and thus "make full proof of their ministry"?

That's quite a question. I thought nothing of the significance or the error behind the position of a full time evangelist who travels to many churches in order to preach revivals and what not until I was in Bible college. I noticed then that there really is no such office in the NT expressed in the way it is now, and I wondered about the validity of it.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who has pondered this, and I think that Pink may have been on to something.

I wonder what makes pastors think that they need to call on some professional "evangelist" when the pastor is to be the one doing the work of an evangelist and training his people to carry on that responsibility into their own lives (Eph 4:11-12). I know that the text in Ephesians names evangelists too, but not in the way that it is now expressed. Maybe it's due to the fact that it's been done for so long. Maybe it's because there are men training for this office and they need somebody to give em some work. I'm not really sure how it has come about, but I (and some godly men too) would like to know why.

I wonder if men leading churches today even care enough to start allowing God's Spirit to work through the faithful preaching of the word and attend to the responsibility of evangelizing people themselves. After all, it's not the visible results that your looking for--it's the faithful obedience that counts (or is it?).


MiGad said...

What do you do with those pastors who aren't exceptionally gifted at evangelism (I'm not referring to those who can't yell), those who are more inclined to focus on the ecclesiastical matters? Do you ask them to resign? And what about those men and women who are gifted in communicating the gospel? Do you offer them pastorates? Something has to be balanced.

Audrius Bieksa said...

Mike i completely agree with you. i think we have too many pastors today that think that evangelism is someones else job. bus as the passage in Timothy is saying -pastor is the one who is obligated to do the work of an evangelism. and if he doesn't - then he is going against the scriptures.
now i believe that there is a special gift of evangelism (Eph 4: 11)but that does not excuse pastor of being evangelist. how does the pastor who is not doing the work of an evangelist expects his church to evangelize the world is he is not doing it himself? (he suppose to lead congregation)

Michael.Gabriel said...

Oops! I didn't realize that there were comments over here because I haven't been getting updates in my inbox. Sorry.

MiGad, if you're happen to check back, I really believe that the reason why some people (yourself included, I gather) believe that this is a valid office is because they don't realize the position that should be played by the pastor.

The pastor has a responsibility to faithfully preach the word without apology. He is merely an ambassador carrying the King's message. The pastor is out of line when he attempts to preach a series on a topic that he feels will be helpful for his church's numerical growth (such as an evangelistic campaign with a special guest speaker). And when the pastor faithfully preaches the word he inevitably will preach the Gospel, and in turn, the Holy Spirit will use His own message in order to do the work of conversion and growth in already converted people.

If this one task is faithfully accomplished, the Lord will do what He has promised to do with His word. That is, to accomplish all of His purpose (Is. 55:11).

Furthermore, the pastor still should be involved in personal evangelism. What Christian shouldn't be? This means that he should be sharing the Gospel with his neighbors and banker and convenient store clerk and family members and so on. How can he neglect this all important task? Do you MiGad?

All that being said, I realize why someone would see this as an assault against those who seen to be faithful pastors, but this is no doubt due to the fact that these "faithful pastors" have neglected to share with their people what the responsibility of a pastor truly is. He is to be preparing the flock for their own ministries (and every believer has them), and he is to be calling all those he comes into contact with (as he is able) to repentance and faith in the King of the universe. If your pastor isn't doing these two things, ask him to go to lunch and discuss why you're concerned that he start exemplifying these things. And pray that the Lord will get hold of his heart and cause him to grow onto this Biblical mold and, in turn, be instrumental in your church's SPIRITUAL growth. By God's grace, He will also grant numerical growth as He sees fit.

Dramatized Exegesis