Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Why yours should be a 'Relational Ministry'

"So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."  1 Peter 5:1-4(ESV)


Pastoring effectively requires us to find that difficult balance between being OVER our people and yet AMONG them.  How can a pastor be friends with his members and yet maintain the respect necessary to lead them into uncharted territory?  Peter teaches us to have a three-faceted ministry.  Hear his call to...

1.  Feed them - "Shepherd the flock of God..." "ποιμάνατε"  As a shepherd scopes out pasture for grazing his flock, you must know the needs of your people, know the word of God, and connect your people to life-changing principles from the word of God.  Know the weeds that threaten the health of the flock (false doctrine).  Properly feeding the flock requires you to make the kind of connection with your people that you know where they are, what their struggles and concerns and needs are.  You have got to be involved in the lives of your people to know how to feed them.  You might wax eloquently on any NUMBER of subjects - but if you aren't meeting their needs, they won't eat your food.

You also need such a passion for the word yourself that you can draw from your own walk with the Lord to nourish them.  Don't get in the rut of only studying scripture for a sermon.  Have an all-together separate time in the word to meet your own personal needs.  We fishermen must restock the pond or we will fish the pond dry.

2.  Lead them - "exercising oversight..." Our friendship with our congregation must have certain limits.  We must have the wisdom, experience, and courage to earn their respect.  Not only must we "encourage," we must also "reprove and rebuke" them.  Leadership is earned.  As we prove ourselves in small situations, conflicts, battles, we earn the right to be heard in the complex problems.  Cast a vision for your people.  Set attainable goals.  Challenge them.  Stretch them.  Encourage, yes, but keep pressing them to achieve more for the Lord.  Lead them.

3.  Exceed them - "...being examples to the flock."  In all aspects of life - you are their example.  The stream will never rise above its source.  You must be the pace-setter.  As a husband, father, neighbor, church-worker, evangelist, person of integrity, financially, in your commitments, on the ball-field... be an example to them.  This is why we find the counsel of Paul to avoid ordaining a novice - because the pressure of life often reveals cracks in character that may prove the undoing of a man's credibility with his people.

Love your people.  Show your love.  Tell them you love them.  When they believe you really care, they will allow you to say the hard things.