While many of us may not know exactly what a pastor does, if asked, most of us would have an idea of what we expect. For instance, some believe a pastor is supposed to be primarily an administrator, overseeing the various ministries in the church. Some see a pastor primarily as a leader, casting vision and helping move the congregation towards it. Others see the pastor as a servant, one who waits around in the office to meet whatever needs arise as people come to the church. Finally, others know what a pastor does, he does nothing until Sunday morning when he preaches for one hour. J
All joking aside, the Bible is pretty clear about what the function of a pastor is supposed to be. A pastor is referenced in the Bible under the following titles: elder, bishop, overseer, and shepherd. It is this latter title of shepherd that is used most frequently throughout Scripture, and the functions of a shepherd can be categorized as follows: to feed, lead, know, and protect the sheep. It is the first function, that of feeding, which I want to focus on today.
In Jeremiah 3:15 God says, "I will give you shepherds according to my heart, who shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." And in John 21 we see Jesus reinstating Peter with three commands to, "Feed my sheep." But the question arises then, "How are pastors/shepherds supposed to feed the sheep?"
First, pastors/shepherds are to preach the Word of God. Contrary to prevailing thought, pastors do not have the biblical freedom to preach whatever they want to whenever they are in the pulpit. I do not have the freedom to just tell stories of my personal life, to go through a Christian novel, or to teach on whatever hobbyhorse the culture is infatuated with.
Rather, all pastors/shepherds are commanded to preach the Word in 2 Timothy 4:2. Why? Because, "All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness," so that the flock is throughout equipped for every work. Only God's Word, through the power of the Spirit, has the power to change hearts and make disciples. This is why we go through books of the Bible, preaching expository (explaining the meaning) sermons every Sunday. It ensures we are fed the whole counsel of God and not just my preferences, that what is preached is the meaning of the text and not what I want it to mean, and that through the power of the Spirit we are equipped for the work God has called us to do.
In addition, pastors/shepherds feed the sheep by ensuring the flock is fed throughout the week as well. This can be done first-hand by sharing articles and verses on social media, recommending books, or teaching in some other capacity. It can also be accomplished second-hand by ensuring that the flock is reading truth or plugged into a Sunday School class or SALT group. The latter is why we spent an entire series last August talking about church health and pitching our SALT groups, and why we will do the same this upcoming month. It's one of the best ministries we offer at First Baptist to ensure that you are fed God's Word and equipped for the work God has called you to do.
Therefore, as a pastor/shepherd who is charged with the task of ensuring the sheep are fed, I both invite and strongly encourage all of you to join a SALT group this Fall. Christ died so that we might become His disciples. Come grow as disciples with us, so that we can in turn be effective disciple makers in this world for the glory of God.
In His Grace,