The Call of a Pastor

December 13, 2012 — 6 Comments

I have the blessing of interacting with many different pastors from all over New England. One of the things that is quickly apparent in many interactions is that a vast majority of pastors do not actually have any unbelieving people who would call them friend. This is both sad and seems like a major issue that is facing the church at large. If this is true of the pastors I interact with here in New England, I would posit that it is the same around the country, but maybe I am off on this assumption.

The problems with this are many, but let me draw out a couple.

The first issue is that as a pastor, we are called to equip our people to do the ministry of reconciliation (Eph. 4.11-12; 2 Cor. 5.16-21) to those who do not know Jesus. We are called to equip people to make disciples (Matt. 18.19), which we should be doing also. But how are we to call our people to make disciples and minister to the world around them, if we do not even know how to do it. I understand that there are many amazing books on discipleship and reaching people. But I am not so sure I would board a plan with a pilot who had never actually flown a plane, but has read all the books on it. Likewise we should not lock ourselves in our studies, learning about leading the lost to Jesus, we should go and hang out with the lost, and pray that the Spirit would lead them unto Himself!

The second issue with a pastor who doesn’t have any non-believers as friends seems to be more dangerous. If you are a pastor and do not have anyone who would call you friend outside of your church family, then you are actually unqualified to be an elder by Paul’s standards? When we look at the requirements of an overseer of the church, there are two things that directly apply to the overseer having relationships with those who do not yet know Jesus. The first is that he is to be hospitable (1 Tim. 3.2) and the second is even more apparent, it is that he is to be well thought of by outsiders (1 Tim. 3 7). Being well thought of does not mean that you don’t blow your lawn clippings on your neighbor’s lawn, or that you clean up after your kids leave their toys on their property. It means more than that. It means that people actually know you, and like you. That you would be the type of person that unbelievers would want to spend time with and invite to their kids’ birthday parties. Yes being hospitable means having believers into your house, but it also means having those who do not know Jesus in your house and serving them.

Finally, if we do not have friends who are unbelievers, we are failing at being a Christian. We are all called, pastors, mechanics, school teachers, stay-at-home moms, to be disciples of Jesus who make disciples for Jesus. If we, the leaders of the church, are not making disciples (leading people from darkness to light), then we are failing at the primary calling of the Christian life.

Pastor, let me ask you this question, do you have people in your life who do not know Jesus that you would call friend and who would call you friend? The question is not do you know people who attend your church who don’t know Jesus, but do you know people who are your friends and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are attend your service, went to a wedding you did, or know someone who is in your church family. Pastor, we need to be in and among the world if we are ever going to be effective in our pastoral ministry, and in leading your church to be people who make disciples. If your church family is not having conversions, if there are not new people coming to know and treasure Jesus, let us not look at the programs that we are lacking, but may we look at our own schedule and friends, and see if we are living lives that are intentional about building relationships with people who do not know Jesus.

I may not be an expert yet in how to run Missional Communities (MC) but I have been learning a ton over the past year of leading my own MC, reading about them, and seeing how God works in and through them. As of now, we have four MCs that are a part of Redemption Hill, and I know that each one is vastly different, and rightfully so. Setting aside all the differences, I believe it is safe to say that there are some foundation traits of a good MC leader. Here are five of them, in no specific order.

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Image from @sdmcbee (Seth Mcbee)

  1. Word Saturated -  If you are to be an MC leader, or at least a good one, the Word of God must be something that is paramount to who you are, and how your worldview is crafted and shaped. If the Word of God is simply something that comes and goes, so will your effectiveness in a leadership role.
  2. Spirit Led - Simply reading the Word of God and gaining head knowledge does nothing without activation. The Spirit is the agent that will activate the Word and lead us to do what the Word calls us to do. Whether it be trusting God or blessing others, if we simply try to do these things we will be burnt out. The Spirit not only activates but also sustains.
  3. Brotherly Concern - Since God is our perfect heavenly Father to us and Jesus is our perfect elder brother, through the cross we are now brothers and sisters in Jesus. As we lead the people in our MC, we are to love with a brotherly love, caring for them, serving them, and being concerned for their hearts the way our loving Father cares for us.
  4. Compelled by mission - If all we do as an MC is gather on one night a week and then connect here or there, but we never reach out to people who don’t know Jesus, then we are not a missional community, we are simply a community. The Mission that God has sent us on, to be a chosen family who makes disciples who make disciples, needs to be pressed deep into our hearts, so that we are broken for the lost
  5. Prayer Dependent - All of the things that are mentioned above must be bathed in prayer. We should be daily, many times a day, praying for those in our MC. Their needs, struggles, joys, concerns, hopes. We should be praying for guidance and direction from God as to how we are to lead.

There are more things that a good MC leader must be, but this is most definitely a start to what an MC leader must have. What would you add to the list above?

“Those who would send out thousands of questionnaires asking the unconverted what they would desire most in a worship service should realize that ten thousand unanimous opinions of carnal men do not carry the authority of one jot or tittle of God’s Word. We must understand that there is a great gulf of irreconcilable differences between what God has ordained in the Scriptures and what our present carnal culture desires.” – Paul Washer The Gospel’s Power and Message  (Kindle)

Carnal Men do not Carry Authority

Yesterday Jeff Vanderstelt, elder at Soma Communities in Tacoma Washington, posted a string of tweets about parenting, that were very helpful. I figured I would collect them and post them here for those who do not follow him online could read and reap the benefits from.

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  • Parents: Using the Consequences OF sin to get kids to stop sinning will only lead to MORE sin…
  • Parents: If you use shame on your kids you will train them to hide and deceive.
  • Parents: If you use Guilt on your kids you will train them to blame & look away from Jesus to find another atonement
  • Parents: Train up your child in the way he should go… he should go to Jesus who removes shame & guilt
  • Parents: Fear of punishment as primary motivator will train ur child 2 seek 2 avoid pain, suffering and sacrifice 4 others
  • Parents: Fear of losing ur approval will train ur child 2 live 4 the approval of others, from worshipping u to another god
  • Parents: Ur job is not to add more consequences. It is to lead ur Children to Jesus who deals w the wages of sin
  • Real consequences of sin = guilt, shame, fear of punishment, loss of trust, broken relationships. Jesus can remove and mend all of these.

Jeff recommended these books to someone who ask him for recommendations on parenting resources; Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Gospel-Powered Parenting by William Farley. I would recommend following Jeff on Twitter, or on Facebook.

10 Years!

November 9, 2012 — Leave a comment

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Today I celebrate 10 years of marriage to the love of my life. 10 years is no reflection to my ability to be a good husband or my wife’s ability to be a good wife. It has nothing to do with how amazing either of us our, it has everything to do with how good God has been to us. God’s grace has got us through many fights, arguments, struggles, hardships, low bank accounts, disagreements, joys, excitements and countless other things. It is only because of what He has done in our lives that we are able to celebrate 10 years of marriage.

Anna, I love you so much and am blessed by the grace Jesus has had on our marriage. I am blessed that God has blessed me with you as my wife! Through all the struggles, hardships and joys, you are an amazing mother to our children, partner in ministry, friend, and much more. You are daily a reminder of the grace of Jesus in my life, and for that I thank you for all you have done for me. I look forward to many more years of walking life hand-in-hand with you as we experience this crazy journey called life together.

Love more than I can ever put into words.

Love, The Josh Cousineau!

Anna and I

Anna and I with our baby girl Nya in 2011

 

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Family photo in 2011