“Organizing The Church”
A Course Of Study From
Blueprint For Revival Bible
©2008 Belleview, FL 34421 USA
BLUEPRINT FOR REVIVAL BIBLE INSTITUTE
BASIC BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Dr. Ed J MacWilliams
COURSE: ORGANIZING THE CHURCH
ORGANIZING THE CHURCH
ORGANIZING A CHURCH THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN FUNCTIONING.
Many churches have already established rules and regulations by which they are governed. When a new preacher comes to a church, he should become familiar with these things, even if he feels that they are contrary to Scripture. Many times these rules and regulations are more cultural or traditional than written documents.
It is wise for a new preacher to help his congregation grow in their dependence on the Bible before changing these rules. (A church that is close to the Lord will not have major problems changing anything which is against His will). The exception is where the church has already decided that those rules are not what they want. In such a case, the pastor should begin teaching them what the Word of God says about the operation of the church, so they can see that Jesus provided everything necessary for the effective working of His Church.
Moving a church from a dependence upon man-made traditions is not something which is accomplished after two or three sermons. It is a long-term process of spiritual growth that brings the Believer into the correct dependence upon God’s Word. A pastor called to such a church should fully expect resistance and sometimes very strong opposition to any change.
The unwritten rules. When accepting a church which has been operating for a long time, but says they have no written rules, a new pastor should be aware of one simple fact. There ARE rules in that church. Most of the time, they may be simple guidelines such as, when anything goes wrong, Brother So-and-So will decide what to do. You will have a very difficult time trying to help that church unless you uncover what those unwritten rules are. Offending even the unwritten rules can undermine your effectiveness quickly and severely.
A suggestion is to quickly determine who actually is running the church. You might assume that as the Pastor, you have been called to lead the church. However, in many cases, there is already a ruling group or person, and you just haven’t discovered it, yet. If you attempt to use your God-given authority, you may be surprised to find that others have already claimed to have that authority for themselves.
Theoretically, the church will likely say that the Lord runs it. But, in reality, most of the time, there is a handful of people, sometimes even just one person, who actually makes decisions, and leads the others to take his or her side in most matters.
When you discover that there is no Church Constitution, no written guidelines, you should bring together those who have leadership roles in the church, and sit down with them and pray. Ask them how things are operated. Give them hypothetical situations, and ask them how they would have handled such situations in the past. This will give you an idea of what some of the unwritten rules are, and who has made the decisions previously.
The next issue is to ask them what they expect from you. This will usually tell you the rules under which they expect you to operate. In many cases, they want to have most of the authority, and you are given a position as merely a hireling, called to preach and teach, but not to have much authority outside of actual service times. You need to understand what they expect of you. Of course, you are first of all obligated to the Lord. No matter what the church has been doing in the past, and no matter how much you appreciate them calling you to serve at that church, it is God who called you to preach, and your first obligation is to be faithful to Him. Do not confuse your appreciation to the church that allows you to serve there with your commitment to God which is above all.
The first issue a pastor should face is an issue of loyalty. The powerful American evangelist of the 1800’s, Charles G. Finney, started off his lectures to his pastoral students at Oberlin College with a warning. He told them that if they were not prepared to lose every material thing, every relationship with other people that they counted precious, and every bit of security in their position; and unless they were willing to be driven out of town and made a laughingstock before the world, they were not fit to become pastors. Their commitment and loyalty must above all be to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Loyalty is something which you must sort out in your own heart and for your relationship with the Lord. Is your highest calling and greatest loyalty to the Lord Jesus Who saved you ? If He called you, and you remain loyal to His calling, the Church will never be able to make you compromise on the truth or do things that are against the Word of God. If your loyalty is first of all to the Lord, you will be willing to risk being thrown out of your church and being discredited by your religious affiliation, if you are called to make the choice over where your highest loyalty exists.
Among many others in early Church leadership, Apostle Paul had to make such difficult decisions many times in his ministry. One was dealing with the church of Galatia. Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” Paul risked their financial support, their endorsements, and their approval by standing against the false doctrine which had taken over their church after he left them in the care of others.
The usual sources of pressure upon a Pastor to be more loyal to them than to the Lord are pressures from denomination headquarters, a committee or board at the church (such as Board of Deacons, or Board of Elders), wealthy people within the church, or sometimes, even the pastor’s own relatives.
A great temptation which the devil throws at pastors is that of financial loss if the pastor chooses to put God first, and not to compromise what he knows is right. Once again, we can see through the Biblical account of Paul the Apostle that those temptations can be overcome, and God will bless the person with an even greater ministry when they put their loyalty to Jesus first.
Consider the Apostle Paul’s options immediately after he got saved. Saul (later changed to Paul) was a Pharisee. He was employed by the Pharisees to hunt down Believers and persecute them. He was loyal to the religious rulers for a number of reasons. Let’s look at what we know for certain first.
Paul was employed by people who didn’t want to hear about Jesus, and they didn’t want others to hear, either. But, obviously, Paul had agreed to follow their desires. It was either a written or verbal contract with the Jews. When he got saved, he was still under contract with them, and the disciples, knowing this, were afraid of him. Acts 9:26 “And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” They fully understood that even some Believers might compromise their faith in order to fulfill a contract, or agreement.
I have known pastors who found out that their churches or denominations were wrong about certain Biblical issues. But they were afraid to be disobedient to those who provided them some funds, and followed the unscriptural views of someone else because they insisted that God would want them to honor their previous commitments. Their loyalty was more toward man’s organization than toward God.
The other dilemma which some pastors bring up is that they have families, and if they are thrown out of their church, they would no longer have an income (they theorize), and therefore would fail God in providing for their families. They often anticipate that they will not be able to provide for their family if they remove themselves from a wrongly made commitment to an organization.
The Apostle Paul also faced family pressures. The following details are not specifically laid out in Scripture, but are only implied. (Therefore, you are not to take them to be as absolute as Scriptures which are more clear). We know the power that the Apostle Paul had. Many theologians suggest that he was a member of the Sanhedrin, the religious ruling body of Jews in Israel. The fact that he was the authority at the stoning of Stephen indicates an official position with the ruling Sanhedrin, since no other Jewish agency had the authority to prescribe a death sentence. (“…and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul.” Acts 7:58). However, it is written law of the Sanhedrin that a member must be married. Therefore, if Paul was indeed a member of the Sanhedrin, Paul was a married man at one time.
We know that after his conversion to Christ, he stated that he no longer was married.
1 Corinthians 7:8 “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.” We do not have any record of what happened to his wife, if he was, indeed, married earlier. But, we can say with some assurance that whoever he married must have been very influential. The Sanhedrin was a tight, close organization, and did not welcome “foreign” Jews into their ruling body. The Bible tells us that Paul was NOT a native is Israel, but was from Tarsus. Acts 21:39 “But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.”
For Saul to have been received into the ruling Sanhedrin, he would need very powerful “connections.” In other words, if he married a daughter of one of the leaders of the Sanhedrin, it would explain how he rose to such authority at such a young age, and was able to overcome the stigma of being “an outsider” from Tarsus.
Now, let us visit Paul immediately after his conversion on the Damascus Road. Not only is his financial security jeopardized, but he must also deal with his own family, who must have been among the top rulers among the Jews. How sympathetic would Saul’s wife be to Saul’s new found faith in the Messiah Jesus ? Evidently, Saul spent long periods of time away from his wife tracking down the Christians. He and his wife were probably not extremely close in their marriage if such a separation was the usual occurrence in their marriage, and it seems to have been.
So, would there have been some pressure or absolute rejection coming from his wife at the idea of Paul turning to Jesus as the Messiah ?
Paul could have rationalized the entire thing away, as some pastors do. He could have considered that he would always be a Jew, and that in order to keep a good income continuing, he could simply go through the motions of trying to find Christians, but then secretly find ways to get them released. He could have hidden his experience with Jesus and his enlightenment about the Scriptures from his employers so he could keep his job until something else came along.
Some pastors might compromise and suggest that they should fulfill their contract, or agreement with their employer, knowing that such an agreement would place their loyalty to the church or denomination above the loyalty they should have for God. Keep in mind that there is no obligation that you make which God recognizes that says you should continue to do wrong.
For an example, suppose that a pastor was foolishly naive one night, and agreed to allow an unrepentant harlot to stay in his home with himself and his wife. Perhaps he had hoped that his kindness would bring her to Christ. The next day, he might easily understand that such an agreement would cause his testimony to be hurt, and the name of Christ to be shamed. Some pastors would justify keeping her in the house on the basis that he had made an agreement with her, and that if he failed to fulfill that agreement, he would be breaking his word, thereby failing God. All such reasoning is false.
Those are considerations which are actually “temptations” to do wrong. And, we see from the Biblical account, that although tempted in many ways, Paul’s loss of financial support, loss of family (his wife), and his failure to keep the contract with the Sanhedrin and Pharisees, did not keep him from putting loyalty to Christ first.
Although it might have been that many of his family members disowned him, and counted him as dead, Paul was still in contact with other members of his family, and at least one was sympathetic toward Paul’s ministry, as we see in this Scripture. Acts 23:16 “And when Paul’s sister’s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.” The reality is that it is improbable that ANY of his family would have been saved if it was not for the fact that Paul took a stand for the Lord Jesus, and put loyalty to Him above loyalty to others. Are there rewards for loyalty to Christ ? Of course. If Paul wasn’t known as a Godly man, living for Jesus, I doubt that his nephew would have been sent to help him. At least one person was influenced for the Lord !
So, not only does love, reason, and the principle of faithfulness teach us that we should always put our commitment to God first, but the Bible gives examples which are strong and compelling.
Courage and patience to make the right changes. Sometimes moving too quickly to make change will be misunderstood by your congregation. They are familiar with the way things have been done, and efforts to take things down a different path usually make people feel insecure and often attacked. If you move too quickly, your acceptance as a member of their fellowship will be thrown aside, and they will sometimes interpret your efforts as those of an outsider trying to push some foreign concept upon their church.
Seek wisdom from the Lord to know how quickly changes should be made. Many times things in the past history of a church were done incorrectly because there was a lack of teaching, or incorrect teaching. This opens the door for you to deal with any issues of procedure from the pulpit.
Essential teachings must come first. One thing is essential for Biblical change, and that is that your congregation must believe and commit to the idea that the Bible is the absolute authority for them personally, and for the church as a whole. Without this, they are merely a religious organization without a true anointing from God. Once they are committed to this fact, you can begin dealing—from the Bible—on issues which need to be corrected.
One example of how NOT to deal with changes comes from a pastor in the US state of Georgia. He was called to pastor a church where the deacons had absolute authority. They told the pastor what he could preach, and how long he could preach it. They ran everything in the church. The pastor decided that for his first few messages, he would ignore the authority of the deacons and teach about the Biblical role of deacons, something which the church did not follow. He taught them very well from the Bible, and made all his points clear and accurate. However, he was fired shortly after his third message. He had failed to FIRST get the church established on the foundation that the Bible was the absolute authority. So, he was sent away with the words, “This is the way we have always done things.” If he had been wiser and more patient, he would likely have accomplished a good work for the Lord there.
Involve your people in the changes with love and understanding. Although some congregations have been following incorrect teachings for a long time, the Holy Spirit is able to change their thinking from the inside. Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” One thing they should be able to do is to pray. You should ask them to pray fervently for you to make the choices which God directs. Through this they become involved in the process.
As their new pastor, it is your responsibility to guide them into the Truth of God’s Word. Your calling is a gift from God. Ephesians 4:11 “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” The term “Pastors and Teachers” is one office. A pastor is supposed to be a teacher. If he cannot teach when he preaches, he is merely a bag of hot air. Thus, a major part of your work is to instruct your congregation in the Word of God.
While we will not use this course to detail a recommended pastoral program, it is important to recognize a couple factors in your early teaching to a young church. First of all, they must constantly be reminded about the importance and value of God’s Word. Secondly, they must see a practical value to it. Thirdly, you must not tire of repeating these teachings, perhaps explaining them, or “wrapping them” differently on occasion, but presenting the same truths over and over again until you are certain that your people are standing solidly on the Word of God.
Once they have accepted that the Bible is the authority for all matters of faith and practice, they will have accepted a fundamental truth enabling them to move ahead into Biblical changes. They are then ready to participate in the changes, and take joy in the fact that they are obeying God rather than man’s concepts.
One thing which encourages Believers to become more yielded to the Holy Spirit is for a pastor to point out their individual gifts to them. When you look at some people, those gifts will be very visible. But, for others, it might even appear outwardly that they have no gifts at all. Regardless, the pastor should seek to encourage his flock to know the gift, or gifts, by which they can serve the Lord.
You will find that service gifts will quickly be known. The man who is constantly trying to help others, and aiding those with less than himself may be a good candidate for a deacon later on. A woman who spends time teaching her own children well may be a good potential Sunday School teacher. The person who follows you around, looking for ways to assist you in everyday activities may have the gift of helps, and could be expressing a God-given gift already. Once this is made known to the people, they usually tend to depend more heavily upon the Lord to help them express the gift even more.
ORGANIZING A CHURCH THAT IS NEW
1. START THE NEW CHURCH WITH PASTOR-LED BIBLE STUDIES.
Churches take shape as they grow. At the very beginning, with fewer people, the organizational needs of the new church are not very great. They do not require the presence of all the offices and callings mentioned in the Bible. Pastors that try to make a small church fit the profile and organization of a larger church are asking for more problems than they will be able to handle.
Each new church has unique people. They have unique problems to overcome, and they require a plan specifically designed by the Holy Spirit to achieve all that God wants them to do. But, at the very first, they need to grow in their knowledge of the Lord, and know what His will is for them.
In the early organization of the church, the pastor should make the decisions regarding who will fulfill which positions. There are good reasons for this.
1). The Pastor is called to lead the church as the God-ordained shepherd, and your leadership should be expressed from the start. If you attempt to develop the church on a “volunteer-only,” or a completely democratic basis, you will find that people who are completely unqualified to do a particular job will volunteer, and end up bringing disgrace, or at the least, not doing the job for the Lord as He wanted it done. You should use this opportunity to get to know your people and to establish the fact that you not only now, but in the future, must rely upon the Lord to guide you in your decisions regarding the church.
One of the very important things you will do as you start a new church is to disciple your people. Get to know each one personally, especially in regard to the following issues:
- How dedicated are they to the Lord ? Can they be swayed by relatives or friends to abandon their present path of commitment to the Lord ?
- What interests do they have which can be used by the Holy Spirit to assist in the work of the church ? Look for their past training, their natural abilities, and their willingness to learn new things. Remember, you will be the primary instrument that the Holy Spirit will be teaching them through.
- What type of leadership abilities do they possess ? Are they leaders, or have influence only in their immediate family ? Or, do they exercise leadership beyond that ?
- What type of Bible knowledge do they have ? Potential Sunday School teachers need to grow in their knowledge of the Lord before starting to teach. Often, in a new church, the pastor must gather everyone into one class, and teach them himself until he is certain that some are ready to begin teaching on their own.
One technique for training new and inexperienced Sunday School teachers is for all of them to gather together for an hour or more each week under the teaching ministry of the pastor. They will all learn the same Bible story which will be taught the following Sunday. In these classes, the pastor will give each teacher ideas for communicating the truth of the lesson on a level which their group of students would understand. This should be a more open class, permitting discussion and the presentation of various ideas on how to get the Truth across to each age level.
2). Most new churches begin with more new converts than with mature, strong Christians. This means that the spiritual perception and understanding is likely to be lacking for most of the new members. To give them the impression that they are fully capable to determining how they ought to serve can be risky. Some may have the discernment to know, but for most, this knowledge is something that only comes through growth, and that takes time.
A word of caution. When you have several new Christians ready to become involved in a new work for the Lord with you, but you also have one or more older Christians, don’t make the assumption that simply because someone has been saved for a long time that they are spiritually ready to accept God’s plan and do it responsibly. Many pastors of new churches have been discouraged and even defeated by putting more confidence in an older Christian than he or she deserved. Approach the delegation of authority and the assignment of various tasks very prayerfully.
3). If you are truly called to be a pastor, you should have God-given gifts of discerning. These will enable you to determine who is more qualified to do specific tasks and carry out certain Biblical offices. Through observation, prayer, and sometimes fasting, it will become obvious who the Lord wants in various positions.
Don’t be too quick to give everyone an official position, or to try and create a Board of Elders when you have only new converts. The Bible warned about appointing people who are too young in the Lord to be able to handle certain responsibilities maturely. In 1 Timothy 3:6-8, we are told that there are specific requirements which must be met—not only for a higher office, such as a bishop—but also for that of deacon, as well.
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
2. DEVELOP OUTREACH MINISTRIES.
WHO SHOULD BE INVOLVED. Once your people have a strong confidence in the Word of God, and have a strong foundation in the Truth, you can begin to use some of the obviously called-of-God people in an official capacity. (They should be using their God-given gifts of ministry already as a part of their daily walk with the Lord without having to be told or authorized by the church). It is important that anyone involved in any official position within the Church must have a good testimony, and must not be active in any openly known sinful practice. The testimony of the Lord, and the establishment of the testimony of the new church depends upon a clean testimony of the individuals who are involved in ministry.
This may sound like an obvious precaution, but it needs to be mentioned, anyway. Some new pastors, desiring to see their new work develop very quickly will take shortcuts, by-passing the testimony issue, and will put unqualified people into positions because they feel they have no one else to do the work, and they want it done immediately. They forget the promise of the Word in Philippians 4:19, “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” If we truly NEED a person to do a work at a particular time, God will supply that person. Don’t move ahead of God, and try to fill a position with someone whose bad testimony will result in undoing all the work you have already put into the mission.
Some new pastors have given positions to people because the person was rich, was well-known in the community, or had a position of influence in the town. We must remember that it is the Holy Spirit Who ministers effectively, and if any person is not an effective vessel which the Holy Spirit can use, he holds the potential of doing harm to the work of God. In His wisdom, God has made the salvation experience equal to all people. All of us are born again as little babes in Christ. The rich man, the man of political power, the educated man, the poor man, are all given birth by the Spirit of God, and all begin the Christian life as little babies. There is no advantage to anyone because of their previous worldly status. Romans 2: 11-12 “For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;” Therefore, it is wrong for a pastor to promote anyone to a position within a church because of their position in the world.
There is obviously a difference between “doing something for the Lord,” and “official positions.” Your people should be encouraged from the very first Bible study to be doing something for the Lord. This will allow you to see who works out of a love for the Lord and requires no pushing, and which ones sit back and do nothing because they are not yielded to the Spirit. But, “doing something for the Lord” is immediate and everyone should be involved. However, having a position of ministry requires various safeguards and conditions.
Make sure that the criteria you use for selecting people for outreach ministries are Biblical. Those people must be of “good report,” they must have shown evidence of a truly changed life, and they should already be doing things for the Lord without you having to tell them every detail. The love for the Lord that inspires people to serve God can be seen in the love they will express in trying to help others.
By encouraging people to listen to the Lord, and follow His concern for souls, you will find that the Christians who are serious about their relationship with the Lord will be using their God-given gifts without anyone’s approval or sanction. For an example, a new Christian man may find himself burdened to help another Christian who has need of food, or help to repair his home. The man who is following the Lord will reach out and help the brother in need. This heart-concern very often reveals someone who is called to be later recognized as a deacon. Anther example is a woman who has recently been saved. She has several children, and she encourages them to bring the neighborhood children to their house, and she teaches them some Bible stories which she herself had recently learned. This desire to share the Word of God with children could be evidence that she has a God-given gift to teach children.
It is important to see that Christians who are submissive to the Holy Spirit will use their gifts without the church giving official approval to them. This was the case when the early church had to select deacons. They wanted to choose men who were already being faithful to God, and had an established testimony of good works already. Acts 6:3 “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.”
A. SOUL-WINNING MINISTRIES. (EVANGELISM).
- JOB-RELATED BIBLE STUDIES. Some members, or friends of members, may desire to have a Bible study held in their place of work. It may be a hospital, a military base, a police station, a firehouse, or a place of business. The Bible studies may be taught by the pastor or anyone in the church who is strongly anchored in the Truth.
- HOUSE TO HOUSE EVANGELISM. Teams of two may go from house to house, telling people about the Lord Jesus, and the new church. Their own personal testimonies should be given so that those they visit cannot push away their efforts as merely “church visits.” Teach your people what they should say, and how they should visit. Most importantly, they should know how to lead a person to Christ when they visit.
- PERSONAL WITNESSING. Teach your people to share their own testimonies of how the Lord has saved them, and what He has done for them. Even if a Christian has little Bible knowledge, he knows one thing. He knows how he got saved. The youngest babe in Christ is able to share with someone else how they came to know the forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ. You should emphasize to your people that if they knew how THEY got saved, they also know how to tell someone else how to get saved. Everyone who is truly saved gets there by the same obedience of faith.
- ENCOURAGE them to invite their families, their neighbors, and the friends they work with to the new church. Have special evangelistic-style services where guests are recognized and led to Christ.
- CRUSADES. A new pastor, trying to organize a new church, you can often receive help from local Bible Institutes or churches outside the area. Crusades can bring the attention of many people who otherwise might not even know anything about the Lord’s work in that area.
- GOSPEL TRACT EVANGELISM. When Gospel tracts are available, they can be used effectively in public areas, markets, streets, and even door to door. Gospel tracts can be designed and made at a low cost for evangelistic work to a specific group of people.
- OTHER MINISTRIES. Visiting people in prisons, holding Bible studies in homes nearby, having Children’s Bible Clubs in homes, holding special youth activities (including Bible studies) at public parks, etc., are just some of the wonderful ways to reach the community for Christ.
B. HELPING & TEACHING MINISTRIES. (EDIFICATION).
- SUNDAY SCHOOL OR BIBLE STUDY MINISTRIES. A teacher should have a proven love for students the age level they will be teaching. He or she must be familiar with the material that needs to be taught, and be capable of communicating in a manner which the students can easily understand.
Obviously, any teacher—of any age students—should have a very real and close relationship with the Lord. They are, actually, pastors of a congregation (their students). They must be able to lead.
- DEACONS, FOR HELPING OTHERS.
The role of deacons has been distorted by some denominations. The Biblical account of the first deacons tells us that they were chosen to do the material work to help the widows in the church. These are people chosen, not to rule in the church, and not to rule over the pastor, but to serve the material needs within the church under the guidance and direction of the Pastor.
Acts 6: 1-4 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.
The Apostles established a principle regarding deacons, that they must be people with established (and good) testimonies (i.e., “honest report”). That requires that they should have been saved long enough to have a testimony (report) among the lost. Acts 6:3 “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.” On the basis of experience in many churches, it is recommended that no one be ordained as a deacon unless they have been saved for least one year, preferably longer.
Important. A person can be doing the work of a deacon—if they feel called to do it—without receiving the official position or title from the church for a period of time. Often, it is good for a pastor to observe if someone really does a work for the Lord Jesus because he knows he is called to do it, or just because he was given a title by the church. If a Christian will not do what he is called to do without an official title or recognition by the Church, he is probably not called of God to do it. He obviously is doing something because of recognition rather than a heart commitment. Therefore, a delay in ordaining people to be deacons or elders can be a valuable tool in discerning who is truly called of God, and who is not.
You must always insure that at all stages of church development, both purposes of the Church, (Evangelism, and Edification), will be operating. However, the Church must grow in her relationship with Christ in order for these purposes to be carried out effectively. This requires that the church grow in knowledge of God and His Word. This is beneficial in so many ways.
Obviously, this steadily increasing knowledge of God is something that He wants for His people. 2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.”
You must guard the testimony of the Lord. His testimony is seen, not only through you, but through your people. If you allow people with a poor testimony to have positions in the new church, it will destroy the reputation of the church even before it has a chance to begin working properly.
The light of the Lord was designed to shine in our hearts, and give knowledge of the glory of God ! 2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
YOU MUST TEACH YOUR PEOPLE THE TRUE ESSENCE OF WORSHIP.
Worship is not merely done with the voice. Nor is it limited to submission of our thoughts and our presence.
Worship comes from the spirit. (The spirit of man is where his emotions are). Our services must reveal to God that our emotions, as well as our knowledge, are submissive to Him.
John 4:23-24 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
While emotions are definitely involved, true worship requires obedience of every sort. The new Christian, from the first meeting of the church, should understand that the giving of an offering is part of worship. Those who say they have nothing should be taught to go and find something, just as Jesus told Peter to find the coin in a fish’s mouth. They should be taught the Biblical principle that God wants 10% back of all that they have (tithing). It may not be popular, but if you lovingly and accurately present this truth from the Bible, you will find out who in your little flock is willing to accept what God says, and who will rebel.
ENCOURAGE YOUR PEOPLE TO GATHER REWARDS FROM GOD, NOT FROM MEN.
Many pastors believe that by openly rewarding their people each time they do something good for the Lord, that they are helping them to grow. This is generally not true. To the contrary, when you train a person to expect rewards now, they will not be focusing on their later rewards in Heaven.
It is a good thing to privately encourage them when they use their abilities and gifts which God gave them. But, such acknowledgement should be privately done. If they become accustomed to having all their activities publicly acknowledged, they will find it very easy to do things more for the attention of others than for the pleasing of God.
Matthew 6:2-4 “Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Matthew 6: 19-21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Matthew 23:5 “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,”
While the immediate result of public praise will most often be that more work will be accomplished, it is almost always damaging to the Lord’s work in the long term. Are your people doing things so they will receive praise, appreciation from men, and acknowledgment ? The works of the Church should be those works which God works through us. This working of the Holy Spirit is hindered when a person is more submissive to his own desire for earthly recognition than he is to simply please the Lord.
WARN YOUR FLOCK OF DANGERS.
This is the duty of a shepherd. It is required by the Owner of the sheep that the shepherd protects them from harm. The responsibilities of the pastor in this regard are huge.
Warn against the dangers of loving material things.
1 John 2: 15-16 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. “
Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Beware of human weakness when it comes to material possessions. The Prosperity Gospel is a deadly and self-exalting movement which has taken control of many churches where pastors assumed that it could not do so. While it claims it does not take away from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it clearly established another god, another desire, another goal in life. This is a second master, and the Lord will not be a part of it. If you allow this doctrine to enter your church, you will grieve the work of the Holy Spirit away.
Warn against any other entity which would place itself as the highest priority in the lives of your sheep. In some cultures, parents have come to idolize their children, giving them anything they desire. In others, wives or husbands have been made lesser gods. In other cultures a certain type of employment or social status has become an idol which the sheep desire more than the blessed fellowship with the Lord.
We have the example of the faith which Moses exercised when he rejected the status, power, and wealth of Pharaoh in order to follow the Living God. Hebrews 11: 24-26 “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”
Although the sheep will not prosper spiritually when they are constantly warned of danger, from time to time a loving pastor will find it necessary to clearly warn of dangerous movements, dangerous people, and dangerous ideas. It is a responsibility which the Bible makes obvious in both Old and New Testaments.
Ezekiel, as well as pastors today, are made watchmen who must warn the sheep of dangers. Ezekiel 33:8-9 “When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
Paul did not fail to warn of dangers which would be in the future for the Church at Ephesus. Acts 20:31 “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Paul made certain that the Church at Corinth was warned of dangers which come from failing to follow God’s Word. 1 Corinthians 4:14 “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.”
Paul notes that overseers (pastors) had admonished the Church at Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 5:12 “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;”
Warnings should be given to those who do not follow the rules of God. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
The pastor will rebuke in a loving, caring manner those who sin. 1 Timothy 5:20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Titus 1:13 “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” Titus 2:15 “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
FELLOWSHIP AND AFFILIATIONS.
While keeping a door open for witnessing and restoration to those who hold false beliefs, the pastor should not be fellowshipping with those whose fundamental doctrines are contrary to what the Bible teaches. Of course, there will be minor disagreements which everyone has with another person. They should not be the cause of splits and schisms. However, when a church, a pastor, or an organization does not agree to the foundation stones of our faith, they are not to be fellowshipped with.
What should we consider to be fellowship ? The Greek word which is translated “fellowship” in the following verse of Scripture literally means, “(Strong’s #4790, sugkoinoneo, or soong-koy-no-neh’-o) “…to become a partaker together with others, or to have fellowship with a thing.”
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Some people have tried to wrest their own version of this from the Biblical word. They make it appear that even speaking to those who disagree on fundamental points is sin. The sin is actually becoming a partaker with them, not just communicating with them.
However, partaking with them does include being a participant in their activities, their meetings, and supporting their organization. That is strictly forbidden by God.
What are these fundamental beliefs which are the criteria for breaking fellowship ? The following is the list which takes into account those parts of our faith upon which all other are built upon.
- God is one Person, manifesting Himself in three ways. (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit).
- God breathed the Bible Himself, and it is not the work of men. In the original languages, it is infallible and pure.
- Our faith must be built upon God’s Word alone, and not man’s viewpoints.
- Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, came to the earth for the purpose of being the Lamb of God. He was sinless, and shed His Blood on the Cross for our sins.
- Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, in His payment for our sins, and not by any works that we have done or could do.
- Salvation includes the forgiveness of our sins, eternal life, the giving by God of His Holy Spirit to the Believer, and many other promises contained in God’s Word.
- The life of the Christian should be guided by the Word of God and the direction of the Holy Spirit. The Christian is instructed to live a Godly, Christ-centered life.
If an individual, organization, or church does not hold these essential Biblical truths, it is clear that we should not fellowship, or participate, with them. However, that does not mean that we should cease praying for them, or working to bring them to the Truth. The absence of fellowship simply means that we will not participate in the activities, associate our good name with them, support them, or provide encouragement for their unbiblical ideas and works.
A simple example of this was the fact that Jesus spoke with the Pharisees. He answered many of their questions. However, He never participated in any function which promoted the Pharisees, nor would He lend His Name to their false teachings. He exposed their false doctrines and their hypocritical ways, warning the people not to follow them. He did, however, keep an open channel of communication with them, trying to teach them the right ways.
Leaders in the Church are required to warn those who are not following the Biblical paths. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Just as the prophets of the Old Testament were made watchmen, so too are the pastors of the Church era. Ezekiel 33:7 “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me.”
The Apostle Paul set the example, by warning the church at Ephesus of the dangers coming from wolves that were ready to pounce upon the sheep as soon as he left. Acts 20:31 “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
KEEP FEEDING THE FLOCK OF GOD.
Your work is primarily that of a pastor-teacher. Teaching will involve a large portion of your work. This spiritual feeding of the sheep is required to keep them healthy, growing, and useful to the Lord. Without proper nourishment, they will be subject to worldly diseases and things which make them so unattractive, that the Lost will not be interested in their invitation to know Jesus.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
1 Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
LEADERSHIP IN THE CHURCH SHOULD BE PRAYING THAT GOD WILL GIVE HIS PEOPLE KNOWLEDGE. PAUL SETS THE EXAMPLE OF DOING THIS.
Ephesians 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:
REVIEW OF A MAJOR INSTRUCTION ABOUT THE CHURCH: EPHESIANS 4:11-16.
GOD GAVE THE PREACHERS, ETC. TO THE CHURCH.
Pastors and teachers are not people who are chosen by men. They should never be positions filled by those who simply like the role and status of a pastor-teacher. They are to be God-called men, given to the Church; and then, if they have yielded themselves to the Spirit of God, they are recognized by the Church to be God-given Pastors-Teachers.
Official Ordination is not the calling of a man to become a preacher, but the response of the Church. It is the people of God recognizing that the man has already been called by God to do this work. It is an official recognition of what God has already done. Ordination does not make a man a pastor, or preacher any more than giving a pig a high school diploma would make the pig smart.
In the Bible we find a principle that God does the calling, and the Church merely recognizes what God has done. It applies not only to pastors, but other offices, as well. Ephesians 4: 11 “And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”
THE PURPOSE OF THEIR WORK IS:
Ephesians 4:12 “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
Maturing the Believer is a duty of the pastor. Through the teaching of God’s Word and his prayers for the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, the flock of God should constantly be growing in their spiritual lives.
THE GOAL WITHIN THE CHURCH IS:
Ephesians 4:13 “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
The unity of faith and the growing knowledge of the Lord Jesus is an important factor in determining the worth of a church. If a pastor seeks to develop His people’s personal walk with the Lord, he must teach them more and more about Him. That is difficult unless the pastor himself has a close and growing relationship with Jesus.
GOD’S WORK THROUGH THEM WILL RESULT IN:
Ephesians 4:14-16 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
The God-called man will evaluate his success, not by values and standards of the world, but by the goals which God established. Those goals are clear. The church will mature spiritually, and the people will be able to withstand attacks of false doctrines, deceptions, and seductions to sin. If a pastor’s flock cannot withstand those things, they have not been fed or taught well. That is criteria God uses to judge a church. Amazingly, most denominations and pastors have adopted a non-Biblical standard by which they judge a pastor’s success. It is based upon how much money he brings in every week, what his weekly attendance is, and how large a building he was able to build. None of those things are even suggested in God’s standard.
The Pastor-Teacher will not be truly successful in God’s eyes unless he abides by the standards and procedures established by God. There are many books, manuals, and instructions taught regarding the setting up of churches. However, pastors will one day give an accounting for his efforts, and if they do not comply with the Word of God, those efforts will have been in vain and will be burned up.
THE ROLE OF PASTOR-TEACHER IN ORGANIZING THE CHURCH
The Biblical office of Pastor-teacher has the responsibility for teaching the congregation what God says. So, he should be God’s messenger to bring the teachings of God’s Word to the congregation.
BEWARE OF ORGANIZING TOO MUCH TOO QUICKLY.
Many pastors have destroyed the spiritual growth of their churches by trying to set up a big organization in a small church. A small church does not require 12 deacons or 7 elders. In fact, it was the Church at Jerusalem, with an estimated 33,000 members, that had those officers.
MAKE CERTAIN THAT THE PERSON FOR THE OFFICE IS SPIRITUALLY QUALIFIED.
It is better to have no deacons than to have a deacon who is not doing what God wants. A deacon should be doing the work of a deacon even before the Church officially recognizes him as such.
Some new churches, composed of all new converts, have tried to elect people to the office of Elder. However, the very word “elder” tells us that this office can be filled only by a person who is mature in Christ. The reality is that many new churches will have to be led by the Pastor, who will do the work of deacon and elder, because there is no one qualified to do it at the beginning.