x39........Jesus--His Pastoral Ministry
do we ever consider using Jesus as the example of pastoral ministry?
After all, He called himself the "great shepherd"--the word "shepherd" is the Greek "poimen" which is one other place in the Bible translated as "pastor" Jesus was a "pastor", at least that is what the Bible says.
How did He run His "church"? How did He guide His "flock"?
Very simply--He taught and He released. He led his flock somewhere, He specifically did not hold them under His authority--instead He told them that they would do greater things than He--and then he left.
Jesus, when we look at His example of shepherding--simply chose regular people--taught them the simple principles of the kingdom of God. Then He demonstrated these principles in the earth--He healed the sick--He cast out devils--He preached the Good News--He had compassion on the multitudes--He taught His disciples (students) to love one another, to love all people, and to love God.
Then, He imparted the Spirit to them--He gave them the authority to do all these same things. He told them they would do the same works as He--and even greater! And then He released them to do these things. He "sent" them--He made them into apostles--those who were "sent" into the earth to carry out the will and work of God in the earth.
Jesus sent out many many apostles in His 3 year ministry--the twelve and also the 70. If we look carefully at the Bible we will see that He released 5,000 after they were fed. But He knew the real power would come after He had gone to the cross--paid the price for eternal life for all--After He was seated in His proper place at the right hand of God in order to do the priestly work in heaven---and when He sent the Holy Ghost. This was when the real power would be released to His followers--and that is just what happened.
At pentecost, when the Spirit was poured out, every one of those people was immediately released into serving God. They all went out and left the "church" of the upper room--and spoke of the wonderful works of God--in a heavenly prayer language. They ministered the Gospel--in a specific language for a specific group of people. Just as Jesus had said--He sent then the Holy Ghost and power--to be witnesses --unto all the earth. The Holy Ghost empowered the Gospel that was in those people and they witnessed the Good News with the result that 3,000 were baptized in one day.
It is interesting to note that they did not go back to the "church of the upper room" the next Sunday and schedule God's appearance as we do. They did not establish a Sunday school for the kids and set up a bake sale for a fundraiser in order to buy the building.What happened was that they had "assembled themselves together"--received the Spirit--and in the same breath they all received their ministry. Just as the example that Jesus had set, the empowerment of God, lead to direct service toward others--in everyone--not just a chosen few.
The seed of the word had been planted in them--the Holy Spirit was dwelling inside of them--and the word and the spirit produce fruit in us. When the Spirit was imparted to them--that fruit suddenly ripened. And they realized that they had something==they had seed that needed to be planted in others. This is the way the kingdom of God operates in the earth--and always will--seed time and harvest. When we receive the word of God--when we receive Jesus --when we receive the Spirit--they grow in us and produce fruit. But that fruit has seed in it---it has the potential and real purpose to reproduce itself in others. All of us are meant to plant the seed we have from the fruit that God has produced in our lives into others. This is what ministry is all about--serving the seed that God has given.
We should not be surprised when our Spirit-filled churches empty out! We should not be surprised when we allow God to be in charge--when we allow the Holy Spirit to fill all of us--when we allow the Spirit to dwell inside of us--grow and produce fruit of the Spirit--that many people will get called by God to leave the church. The churches are not emptying because we are not really allowing the peoples' gifts to move. We are not allowing them to find their true purpose in God. So we shouldn't be surprised when we see dead fruit hanging on the vine week after week.. We can end up thinking this is how church is supposed to be.
The problem we have is that tradition has taught us that our pastor--our leaders--ought to keep people attached to the vine. That we should keep people attached to the church and under the authority of the pastors. Jesus, who called Himself the only "good pastor"--also called Himself the only "true vine". We all as Christians are meant to be diriectly attached the Him as the vine--and as a mamber of His body, be lead by Him--the "Head"--directly.
We need to understand that the example we have in the Bible--of leadership and pastorship--is to give authority and release people quickly!
How often do we see this happen.... A new Christian--who joins the church and has a lot of enthusiasm and desires to preach the word to people. But how often do we "calm them down" and tell them they are new yet, and need time and space to grow and mature. We never see the new Christians up at the pulpit. We have esteemed this as the final place of authority. Forgetting the King of kings has the final authority in every believers' life for whom we were made. There is a great prejudice against new believers, even if you have been in church 'purgatory' for 15 years, chances are you'll never be able to preach the word of God inside of you except independently, which often produces more fruit anyway. If you have an anointing without leadership and aggression it is better. The word has power in the sheep pen, quite often more, followed by ministry and personal laying on of hands etc. Our false concept of authority turns a good gift and annointing into a reign at the pulpit, we should not covet it. It just shows if you cannot go up there how strong the deception is. We need to preach to the unsaved, not the church anyway! Lets look for opportunity to sow the word into them, and not with authority of man, and let the Lord make it personal. The pulpit can never do this. Maybe we should be glad we (us "sheep") are never up there.
What has really happened in them? the fact is that a person gets saved because the seed of the word was planted in them. Salvation is a harvest---the "fruit of eternal life". The new Christian is partaking of a glorious fruit--the knowledge and understanding that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of their lives. But inside of that fruit is seed to be planted in others--and the new Christian is very often aware of this and it is very natural for them to want to plant the Gospel in others.
When someone receives the fruit of salvation they have detached the fruit from the vine and are partaking of it. The mistake that Adam and Eve made was to eat the fruit--we are not supposed to eat all the fruit we have--we are meant to partake of it and and to plant the seed in others. But we in the church, when we see the enthusiastic new Christian, have the desire to attach the person to the vine, to pen the person into the sheep fold--to be just like us.
Unfortunately, in most of our churches--we have the concept that we all are sheep which are meant to be kept in a fold. We ought to study all the uses of the word "sheep" in the Bible. The word is used as an analogy--and it is not consistent in it's usage. Note Matthew chapters 9-10--Jesus uses the word "sheep" 3 times here--twice referring to the unsaved and those in need of His ministry--but the third time He calls His own apostles "sheep". The word sheep is simply a comparison word--not a word which is meant to be the basis of Christian operation!
Shepherding--at least the type of shepherding that Jesus did--was to lead the sheep--to bring them into the place they needed to be in order for them to function in God themselves--no one in Jesus' ministry every stood a permanent sheep. Shepherds are meant to lead sheep to the place where they can be free-not to hold them captive permanently. True shepherds tend--lead and release the gifts in their sheep--not hold and keep them forever.
"I am the door: by me if any man enter in,
he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
(John 10:9, KJV).
The moment we receive the Spirit of God is when we ought to be released to minister the word. At least this is the example of the most obedient church in the Bible--the early church after pentecost.
So many of us have very ripe fruit on our vine--but we have the concept that we are always supposed to stay attached to the vine. Fruit that today is attached to the vine ends up rotting and dieing, and never reproduces itself. WE are all meant ot reproduce ourselves as Christians. This is the way that Christianity has always and always will spread--by people planting the seed they have in others--the word of salvation--the fruit of the Spirit--the seed must be planted and should not be hindered by tradition and the ideas we have been handed down through wrong doctrine and tradition.
I believe in our churches today we have been taught correctly that we can receive freely from God. We receive and receive from a multitude of ministries---but we are mainly taught to eat the fruit we have--to partake of it ourselves. We are rarely instructed on planting the seed in that fruit. We are fat and wealthy Christians filled with the fruit of the word and the Spirit. But it is stressed to most of us that the only real seed we possess is our money. And that we are to plant that seed into the "real ministries" who do the "real planting". This works fine and blesses us and helps to grow the body of Christ--but not nearly as effeciently as is possible. If we all discerned the seed we all have and all began to plant it in the earth together--on the common level the Bible church worked from--then we would really have something the world would be impressed with, and Satan would fear.
If we listen to preaching too much, we never experience God for ourselves. Our dark ages concept that the leader of the church is the only person who can receive from God --and then gives to the poor little sheep in the pen--must go. This kind of preaching is wrong. We need to have our own experience and ministry
The church is supposed to be a body. God designed the human body to grow by the division of tiny litle cells. This is an exact picture of how the church--the body of Christ--is meant to operate.
A lot of little houses of God--a lot of humble dwellings for God to operate from--on a daily basis. Big things happening by many many little units working--all under direct control of the Head.
Apostolic function--not kingly "pastoral" authority.