Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Role of the Minister in the Church and the Community

The Role of the Minister in the Community and the Congregation

Written by Dr. Bill Bagents

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

The truth of God is solid and changeless.

  1. Psalm 119:89, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”
  2. Jude 3 speaks of “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”

Our application of God’s word must be both faithful and flexible.

  1. We see that in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
    1. Paul could speak Greek to Greeks. He could speak Aramaic to Hebrews. He could speak philosophically to philosophers. He could speak the language of athletes, farmers, or soldiers as the situation demanded.
    2. Paul could start a sermon in a synagogue with Genesis 1 or Genesis 12.
    3. But in Athens (Acts 17), he could read and use the inscription from the nearest idol and quote the relevant poet.
  2. As a minister of the gospel and an apostle of Christ, Paul could preach the word with power.
    1. He could also write by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
    2. And He could make tents to support himself and his companions when that was needed.
  3. The same has to be true of us.
    1. Like every other minister, that is every other Christian, those of us who are blessed be designated or recognized as preachers, wear many hats and fill many roles.
    2. We marry and bury.
    3. We preach and teach.
    4. We counsel and care.
    5. We serve and lead.
    6. And if we do it right, we do it in balance to the glory of God.
  4. The devil loves to get us out of balance. He will even use Scripture to do so.
    1. For example, some read from Acts 6:2, “Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, ‘ It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God to serve tables.’”
    2. It’s backed up by Acts 6:3-4, “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
    3. That settles it! Preachers ought to preach. Others ought to serve in the more ordinary ways.
    4. It’s clear this was best in the time and situation of Acts 6.
    5. But, this isn’t the only example in Scripture.
    6. In John 6, the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus distributed the food to His disciples (apostles) and they distributed it to the seated crowd.
    7. In Acts 28:3, the apostle Paul was gathering sticks to put on the fire when the viper bit him. He wasn’t too good or too important to work.
  5. My assignment is to talk about the role of the minister in the congregation and the community.
    1. The congregation is a subset of the community. If you’re involved with the congregation, you’re involved with the community.
    2. The people of God aren’t selfish. The congregation should never want the preacher to serve only the congregation. That would be contrary to the example of Christ.
    3. It’s next to impossible to influence and evangelize people who don’t know you. Working in and with the community is pro-evangelism. It offers opportunity to adorn the gospel with good works. It’s in keeping with Matthew 5:16 and 1 Timothy 2:1-7.
  6. It’s not whether you have a role in both church and community. Rather, it’s what roles do we fill in church and community, and how do we keep those in balance.
    1. We’ve already rejected one extreme. “My job is to preach, and that’s all I do.”
    2. The other extreme is just as bad. It’s a misapplication of 1 Peter 3:1-2, “I won’t even need to preach if I live well enough before them.”
      1. Need both the word and the life that the word produces (1 Thes. 2:8).
      2. Ultimately, faith still comes by hearing the word (Romans 10:17).
  7. OK, tell me how to keep these roles in balance. Can’t give a checklist, but I can offer some principles.
    1. Since you can’t do everything, choices must be made. Make them wisely.
    2. Acts 6:2-4 offers much wisdom. We can’t rightly neglect prayer and the ministry of the word.
    3. We’re blessed to double-dip as much as is possible.
      1. Being involved with the community will give you sermon ideas and illustrations.
      2. Being involved with the community will give you all the more reason to pray. Joys, thanksgiving, supplication, prayer for patience and wisdom. “People are something.” “There ain’t nothing people won’t do.” Bad grammar, excellent theology.
      3. God built us so that we need variety. We can rest from study while we serve, play, and interact. And we may have different levels of need for variety and rest. RESIST judgmentalism. We’re not carbon copies.
      4. All of life is about relationships. John 13:34-34. 1st and 2nd commands. Loving people isn’t wasting time. Building relationships can be among our greatest works for God. Most of us aren’t blessed to have too much time with just ourselves.
      5. Find good, stout, brave, wise brethren who will watch your back. Tell me if you see me losing my balance. Wake me up! Ask me! Help me keep myself in the love of God.

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