Pondering the Pastorate by Tony Minell
New Life is far from a perfect “church.” In fact, the number of our imperfections is a multiple of the number of names who call New Life home.
We are a people, like every other people, who struggle. Our struggles are both universal and diverse. Some are wrestling with the pain of loss. Others struggle with anxiety. There are financial burdens, emotional scars, physical pain and a host of other known ailments. I suppose, there wouldn’t be enough space in this article to even begin to archive all the areas in which we struggle. We may say, however, much of our battle is a righteous revolt against the pains and sorrows of this fallen world. These types of struggles awaken in us an awareness that we have been made for another world.
With many of the aforementioned “struggles” we can find a cool relief that we are not our own foil. Yet, our strife is not merely circumstantial. No. Alexander Pope was right, “to err is human.” We are a people who sin. A church without the recognition of its own sin is a church unable to depend on the only one who saves. Thus, we must not shrink back from this truth. Yet, at the same time, and in crescendo, we must proclaim that we are a people who have been loved and forgiven – to Jesus be all the glory.
Speaking less directly of our need for a Savior, we are also a “church” with apparent deficiencies. I will not say we are a church with actual deficiencies – because “church,” properly understood, cannot be deficient. Jesus has given us all the tools we need for life, ministry, and godliness. The body of Christ is complete, by God’s grace, for His purposes. As we come together, Jesus gives gifts to the body, supplying all our needs. The problem is when we, the people, choose to allow ministries and needs to go un-met.
Over the last few weeks New Life has been actively engaged in interviewing candidates for a potential third Pastoral role. Without going into details about what an Executive Pastor would do (don’t think business executive – think more literally about the word executive), we must be clear, this pastor is not being hired to “fill in our deficiencies.” No. The purpose for this pastor is to help us execute and coordinate the gifts that God has already given us.
We have already been perfectly equipped unto the ministry ordained for New Life Christian Community. So, I write this article as a plea. As we continue to search for whomever the Lord would have for us, would you step forward today in order to help us in the work that God is doing among us today.
A church that is hiring a pastor to “do ministry for us” is a church that does not understand what means to be the Body of Christ. We are endowed and equipped for every good work by the Spirit (which is the Word of God according to Ephesians 6:17). As such, we ought to be a people hungering and thirsting for time in the Word (Psalm 119:97) – both corporately and individually. In our probing of the Word we learn about what Christ is doing among us. Our grounding, in the Spirit, is our attention to Jesus Christ in His Word.
We wholeheartedly believe that all those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe that He has been risen from the dead are of the Lord’s Priesthood – and, as such, every confessor has been equipped, by His Spirit, for every good work. You’ve been given the gifts that we need. Start ministering to those around you today. I’m not going to simply tell you to “reach out to someone new and invite them to dinner”, though that would be a great place to start. Get even more personal than that – start praying for the unknown among us. Go beyond the normal small chit-chat.
Let us fill this Pastoral role before we know his name.
Indeed, Christ must be understood as our one and only shepherd. As a friend and elder often reminds me, we have not hired nor, will we be hiring someone to pray for us. No. The one who advocates for us cannot be hired nor bought. In fact, the opposite is true. He has bought us with a price.
If we think we will be more complete in any other name than Jesus Christ, we will be sorely mistaken for all eternity.
So, as we wait on the Lord for this pastor, let’s be sure that we never stop exalting the name above all names. And in so doing, I think we will find ourselves fully equipped to more than muddle through the struggles of life.
Indeed, in Christ, we are more than conquerors.
Serving the Name of Jesus with you,