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The Most Important Job Many Pastor’s Aren’t Doing

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In the Dallas area, there are about as many churches as there are Starbucks locations. You can find a church at nearly every corner in every neighborhood. We have big churches, little churches, Korean churches, African-American churches, Baptist churches, and Lutheran churches. We have churches that still meet in their 100 year old buildings and churches that meet in movie theaters and pass popcorn buckets for the offering. There is a tremendous amount of variety.

So when you’re moving to the area and looking for a church home, you have a lot of options. One of the biggest questions many people have when they look for a new church is, “How is the preaching?” They want to know whether the pastor is engaging and passionate or flat and boring. Along with judging the strength of the children or youth programs, they want to make sure they are listening to a guy who won’t make them fall asleep.

In the same way, when a church is preparing to hire a new pastor they first want to hear him preach. In the Baptist tradition, a new pastoral candidate will preach “in view of a call” where the congregation can hear one of his sermons and ask a few questions.

In light of this, you’d think that the pastor’s most important job is to preach. I’ve met plenty of pastors who think that of themselves too. They spend 30-35 hours a week preparing for their Wednesday night and Sunday morning messages and fail to spend time with those in their congregations. But when we look at Scripture, this isn’t the main role of the pastor. Notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…”

Paul lists out these different leadership roles within the church, many of which are fulfilled by our modern-day ministers and in this list he names their primary responsibility – “to equip the saints of the work of ministry.”

Notice that it isn’t to preach really strong sermons. He isn’t calling them to prepare slick worship services every Sunday. This isn’t a calling to get out there and serve the poor while their congregations go about their daily lives either. His job is to equip or prepare you for ministry.

The pastor’s preaching should ultimately prepare you for taking the Gospel into your everyday life and impacting others in the process, whether that means discussing righteous living or intersecting your faith and vocation. It also means that he needs to get out of his office. His ministry must include knowing you better so he can prepare you to be a minister in your office or on your campus.

I am so thankful for our church’s pastor who has a heart for equipping our church for ministry. If you’re interested, he has a knack for figuring out your passions and finding a place to use them within the context of the church. He looks for ways to get everyone involved in our church’s ministry. His sermons aren’t theological lectures. They are powerful discussions on how Scripture informs our daily situations.

So why do I tell you this? If your pastor’s job is to equip you, then it’s time to allow yourself to be equipped. It’s time to shake off the attitude that you are tithing so he can minister, as if his call to minister to those around him is something unique and special. It isn’t. You’re called to that too. His job is to prepare you. Your job is to get out there and serve those in your workplace and in your neighborhood with the Gospel.

Paul finishes his thought by reminding the Ephesians that this very concept is what will build up the Body of Christ. When we are all out there being ministers in our spheres of influence, the Church becomes what it was called to be. Paul writes, “when each part is working properly, [it] makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” When we are each in our strike zones, serving where we are called, we achieve the unity in faith we were made for in the beginning. So are you equipped and ready? Are you ministering in everyday life?

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