Encounter: Most of us have had experiences with different faith communities which at times can lead to confusion about the role of pastors and understanding what this calling and responsibility entails. A pastor’s role is made even more challenging by the decline in trust for the church and clergy. Understanding the pastor’s call is essential to our own spiritual growth and hopefully will help us to respond to the invitations God gives through the undershepherds of His church and to identify resistances or misunderstandings to their leadership. It's essential to the cure of your soul. Take time to read the following passages:
2 Timothy 4:2
1 Peter 5:1-4
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
2 Corinthians 4:7
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
From the time I journeyed through seminary almost 20 years ago to serving as a pastor in diverse church communities in Mexico, Arizona and now Indiana, I have been encouraged to see God inspiring so many younger pastors and leaders with what our ancestors called the “cure of souls.”
One of the earliest descriptors for what it is that pastors do for people was called the cura animarum – the cure of souls. Clergy were known as “physicians of the soul” specifically because they were engaged in a healing art. Their service to others included evaluation, diagnosis and treatment, just like physicians of the body. But the ministry of pastors as spiritual physicians focused on the creation of a treatment plan for what the soul needs to follow Jesus, in becoming like Jesus and serving as Jesus in this world.
Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Maybe it is out of the disappointments of what they witnessed in their own church experiences, lack of genuine discipleship or the desire to be participants in the power of God made more real, there is a genuine movement of young pastors restoring the essential ministry of the intentional shepherding of God’s people in order to walk alongside them in all of their “soul” needs as they learn to follow Jesus. Not because we are paid to do so, but out of pastoral care that overflows with love, an act of nurture, and an act of self-giving. It’s genuine, authentic and organically infused by God Himself through the power of Holy Spirit. We see this when Paul shared with the Thessalonian church:
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8)
I witness this weekly through many who are serving in the Eden Church community, and it is lived out significantly when a person accepts the invitation from God to commit themselves to the care of souls and the building up of His church. From its very core we have answered the call to the ministry of reconciliation between individuals and God, people and communities because of what has been made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The definition of leadership is to lead people where they would not naturally go, and we all know that cannot be an easy task. Like The Chosen logo, leadership can feel like swimming in the opposite direction than everyone else. Most of us in the pastorate would say we didn’t realize how challenging our call to ministry would be. But likewise, we would also say it has been the greatest BLESSing. With that in mind, I asked Pastor Matt to answer the question, how has the complexity and challenges of ministry surprised you over time? He shared,
“What has surprised me most about the complexity and challenge of ministry is the power of God to use that complexity and challenge as a means of grace. Oftentimes when we are in the midst of a complex and challenging season, it can feel impossible to see beyond those difficult circumstances, and I have learned that it is often healthier to sit in the tension of those seasons than to try to escape them as quickly as possible because God has something for us there. Those complex and challenging times are opportunities to develop trust in God. As Paul wrote to the Romans, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love" Romans 5:3-5 (NLT).
The progression of development in that passage is stunning. Problems and trials produce endurance, strength of character, hope of salvation, and eventually the reminder of God's love. This has been the surprise of complex and challenging ministry: God's continual love, and it is the fulfillment of God's grace at work in our lives, which Paul also wrote about to the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:4-10”.
This Sunday, we are going to celebrate the call of God on Matt’s life, his commitment to that call here at Eden, his recent completion of a Masters of Arts in Ministry with a Specialization in Church Planting and Multiplication. We will hear from Matt and from his wife and ministry partner, Haley, share how the journey has transformed their lives and hear about the passion for discipleship that is fueling his ministry and theirs together. I invite you to take time to write a card telling Matt what his ministry means to you (include Haley if you like) and if you are able include a gift to show your appreciation.
Pastor Matt and I will then take time to answer the questions that have been sent in for this special Ask the Pastors Sunday. God continues to BLESS our Eden Church community and we celebrate this season of growth and transformation as we witness and worship together, God has done it all! He sent Christ to make peace between himself and us, and he has given us the work of making peace between himself and others.
Reflect: After reading Renew and the scriptures listed how has your understanding of a pastor’s role changed? What do you feel are the most significant gifts a pastor brings to their call to the church?
Encourage: Every Christ follower is called to be a minister and to be serving in a ministry. Our EPIC Coaching sessions will help you understand your next steps as you grow, mature and experience Life with God. Schedule your coaching session to begin this amazing journey!
Gather: Discuss this blog and scriptures with your Life Group or Sunday Study group. Share how pastors have been essential to the “cure of soul” in your life or your disappointments in the past. Pray for one another and encourage each other’s ministry and commit to your EPIC Coaching session with Pastor Tammy or Pastor Matt.