This past Sunday Rev. Al Phillips, Director of the Greenville Baptist Association, preached my installation service from 1Peter 5.1-4 and 1Timothy 5.17-21. It was a humbling time to be with the people God has been gathering together at Christ the Redeemer to celebrate what he has done and to be soberly charged together. One of the things I made mention of at the beginning of the service is the beauty that everything does not depend on the pastor of a church. Once this happens, then the healthy of the church has been compromised. Indeed, the call of the church is to individually make disciples of all nations, tongues, and tribes. It is essential that the work of the ministry not be relegated to those being paid or only to the leaders.
What is more, after the sermon it is important to note that there are two charges given (both at the bottom of this post). The emphasis for the pastor lay in the equipping the saints for service. The emphasis for the congregation lay in the proclamation and making of disciples.
In his message, Al gave several admonishments that I relay to you
Charges to Matt
Walk closely with God
It is imperative that I walk with God and keep in step with his Spirit as he leads. It is important for me not to merely hear from God for the benefit of the church (though that is key), but more importantly, to hear from God for the benefit of my own soul.
It is easy to let things coast. It is easy to gravitate toward comfort. Redeemer needs me to take risks and press us to step out of our comfort zones.
Feed God’s people
Not only am I to model what it looks like to walk with God in humility, but I am to feed God’s people from God’s Word. This is the sustenance by which his people will grow and be nourished spiritually.
Equip the saints for the work of ministry
Following Paul’s words in Ephesians 4.11, pastor-teachers are intended to equip God’s people to do the ministry. The vitality of the church is not up to the pastor alone. He plays a part in leading, but the actual labor is done by the congregation of being salt and light in their communities.
Charges to the Congregation
This is not a blind following. Rather it is to maintain a disposition of following as the Spirit leads through Matt and the leadership of Redeemer. Too often Satan gets a foothold in a church and divides the congregation into camps due to petty arguing and compromising and contentiousness and preferences and not thinking the best about each other–and specifically looking askance at the leadership as though they are power-hungry or just don’t get it. Imputing motives that are not there. The congregation needs to follow and encourage the leadership to take steps of faith.
Hold leadership Accountable
It is vital to the health of a church to be able to admonish and help its leadership to follow closely to the Lord. If something is not in accord with Scripture, it behooves the congregation to talk with the leadership. This ought to be done in a way that does not divide the church. But it needs to be done in humility and in love–knowing that the leadership are disciples on the way (always learning and always growing) as well.
Care for your pastor
Stemming from 1Timothy 5.17 and the reference to double-honor, it is important for the congregation to bless its pastor and leadership generously. Instead of keeping them “just trusting God” without taking care of their needs is analogous to driving an oxen team so hard they collapse under the stress. This care does not only equate to finances, but also to the spiritual nurturing of the pastor and his family.
Do your part
The church is the Body of Christ. Each person is vital to the health of the life of the church. If a foot is injured or is lame or refuses to walk, the rest of the body suffers and is not able to do their part. Each of us are integrally connected to each other and need each other to fulfill the individual call of God in our lives.
Give your pastor the freedom to fail
Matt is going to fail you. He is not your Savior. He is not perfect. He will let you down, just as you will let him down. This is inherent to what it means to be part of a family and community.
Charge to the Pastor
Leader: Before God and this assembly of His people here today, I charge you to seek the Lord daily with your whole heart, to shepherd the flock of God that is among you, leading, serving, feeding, protecting and caring for the people of God, and equipping the saints for service, to live a blameless life that will model Jesus before a watching world and to glorify God in all you are and do. Will you here today promise to fulfill this charge by the grace of God?
Candidate: I promise to fulfill this charge by the grace of God and in answer to His call.
Charge to the Congregation
Leader: Before God and His witnesses here today, I charge you to seek the Lord daily with your whole heart, to follow the leadership of your pastor, to grow together in doctrine, unity and faith, to respect and provide for your pastor, and to work together as a body to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make disciples of all nations until Jesus returns in glory. Will you here today promise to fulfill this charge by the grace of God?
Congregation: We promise to fulfill this charge by the grace of God and in answer to His call.