Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Pastoral Calling

This picture of "Father Guido Sarducci" has virtually nothing to do with biblical pastoral calling...just couldn't resist putting a picture of him on my blog.

As part of my doctoral studies I have been reading quite a bit about the pastoral ministries of the first and second generation reformers. While I draw great strength from the testimony of their lives and ministerial practices, I observe their ministry context was very different from mine. Calvin didn't have a building project to help oversee, he took over a sweet cathedral. Luther's audience, while not formally educated, could listen to sermons that were routinely an hour long or more, attention spans were quite a bit longer in the 16th Century. While I'm sure Theodore Beza heard occasional excuses for absence from his parishioners, there were no such entertainments as "The Lake", NFL football, or various youth activities and sports leagues to serve as an excuse for not being in the Lord's House on the Lord's Day. One 35-40 minute sermon per week by the pastor would have appalled most, if not all of the reformers. Zwingli preached twice on Sunday and three more times during the week. His preaching was expositional, doctrinal (like all the reformers) and lengthy. I'm sorry, that just wouldn't fly with today's modern evangelicals, even those who claim to be reformed. Simply put, times are different. I understand that.

Don't get me wrong, while I tend to be an "against the grain" kind of guy, I too am a child of the modern age of entertainment (see Postman's book, Amusing Ourselves to Death- a must read) and constantly fight the temptation to be lazy in my studies and negligent in my pastoral duties. Only by God's grace am I able to be faithful, at any level, as a shepherd of the sheep for whom Christ died. Still, I have to admit, coming out of seminary I was a bit naive thinking I would spend most of my time preaching, praying, administering the sacraments, and encouraging the brethren. Praise God, I do get to do these things, but I also find myself constantly struggling to make time for these key functions as so many "non pastoral" activities are constantly busying me. I wonder if Richard Baxter would have been considered a "Vision Caster" or if his ministry was "Purpose-driven"?

For what it's worth, I want to share some sage advice I received from an older, wiser, minister that has helped me greatly over the past 5 years in particular. He told me to never forget my pastoral calling involves these five practices:

1. Preach the Word and administer the sacraments
2-Love the people
3-Pray down heaven
4-Equip the elders
5-Promote family worship and religion

These practices define pastoral calling. They have helped me maintain focus time and time again. They even help me realize that ministry is largely contextual. My ministry context is different from the great reformation-era pastors, however, I can seek to emulate the timeless, biblical practices these gifted men lived out. I think these five principles of pastoral calling do just that. They are on my wall, right next to a great picture of my wife and kids, I look at both every day.


M. Jay Bennett said...

That's good stuff. Thanks for the wisdom!

Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Tony’s pastoral mandates for Pastor Calling should be a providential reminder for every believer who seriously considers Christ’s earthly departing words spoken forth from Matthew 28:18-20
1. Preach the Word and administer
the sacraments
2. Love the people
3. Pray down heaven
4. Equip the elders
5. Promote family worship and
Providential! Just yesterday, I received a request from Redeemer’s “Mission Team Prayer Partners” asking me to share my concerns and prayer needs for our August 2007, “5-Loaves & 2-Fish Mission Moldova” outreach. I humble share what I feel will be our team needs, gladly comparing these captive thoughts with Tony’s Pastor Callings.
1. That the Door for the
preaching of the Word would be
opened wide.
2. That He would grant us His
wisdom, and that His anointing
would lead our every step.
3. That our team would seize
every opportunity to become
His hands and feet at each
mission opportunity.
4. As we venture forth in hostile
areas, that His protection
would surround about us.
5. That we would be wise in
administering the funds we
have raised for our “5-Loaves
& 2-Fish” outreach.
6. That each team member would
know how to respond to each
person we encounter and
that all of us would leave
Moldova more like Christ.
Our exciting Scriptural directions for this mission was received from Pastor Tony’s recent outstanding exegesis from Colossians 4:3-6.