Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 1

Title: Principles For Effective Pastoral Ministry - 1
Category: Pastoral Issues
Subject: Pastoral Ministry

Our call to ministry is an anchor to our soul. It holds us in ministry when the howling winds of controversy swirl around us. True ministry is not just a job, it is a calling. Our call gives us staying power. A call to the gospel ministry is the highest of all calls.

Alexander Whyte, the greatest preacher of Edinburgh, wrote in a letter to a Methodist friend, "The angels around the throne envy your great work...go on and grow in grace and power as a gospel preacher."

Dr. Will Houghton, one-time minister of Calvary Baptist Church in New York City and president of Moody Bible Institute, put it this way:

"The highest calling man can know is the call of Christian ministry. While it is true that every Christian is commissioned to labor together with Christ, it is also true that he has chosen some to undertake special service for Him in their day and generation."

"God has a plan for every life, and men can serve the Lord just as heartily and helpfully in the marketplace and banking house as in the pulpit, but blessed is the man who feels in his heart the urge to preach the gospel."

"Your speaker (Houghton) makes this confession, he would rather be the pastor of the smallest Baptist Church you know, even if considered a failure by his friends, than to occupy some high position in society and be considered a success..."

"The preacher does not select his vocation. It is selected for him by the One who said, 'You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.' And he is commissioned and sent forth in the power of the person of whom it said, 'He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.' "

Ray Stedman, the contemporary Bible expositor (now with the Lord) concurs in describing his own experience:

"I became aware of a growing sense in my own life of the grandeur of preaching. Of what I called the majesty of ministry...I have felt a deeply, humbling conviction that I will never be given a greater honor than what has already been given to me, that I should preach the unsearchable riches of Christ."

Oz Guiness in his remarkable book, The Call, gives insight into the nature and purpose of God's call upon a person''s life.

"Calling is the truth that God calls us to Himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out in response to His summons and service." p. 29

"Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by Him, to Him, and for Him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something; (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as inner city or outer Mongolia)."

"Our secondary calling, considering who God is as Sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and everything should think, speak, live and act entirely for Him." p.31

Dr. Stephen Olford, founder of The Stephen Olford Center For Biblical Preaching in Memphis, Tennessee states that our calling involves:




Dr. Edwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, in his book, Pastor To Pastor, gives some helpful insights into the call of God.

He says, "Despite the fact that we don't know as much about the "call" as we would like, I still believe that God gives a call to some people that is more than just a general call given to all believers. There is a call that is more than simply being gifted for ministry and even more than just a desire to preach or teach."

Lutzer quotes Charles Bridges (1794-1869) one of the leaders of the Evangelical party in the church of England in the last century and author of The Christian Ministry. Bridges states that ministerial failure can sometimes be traced to the very threshold of the entrance to the work. p.11

Thought: Take a moment and revisit God's call upon your life to be a vocational minister.

Lutzer also quotes the late J. Oswald Sanders, "The supernatural nature of the church demands a leadership that rises above the human. The overriding need in the church, if it is to discharge its obligation to the rising generation, is for leadership that is authoritative, spiritual and sacrificial." p.11

Lutzer says, "I don't see how anyone could survive the ministry if he felt it was just his own choice. Some ministers scarcely have two good days back to back. They are sustained by the knowledge that God has placed them where they are. Ministers without such a conviction often lack courage and carry their resignation letter in their coat pocket. At the slightest hint of difficulty they are gone."

"I'm disturbed by those who preach and teach without a sense of calling. Those who consider the ministry to be one choice among many tend to have horizontal vision. They lack the urgency of Paul who said, 'Necessity is laid upon me.' John Jowett says, 'If we lose the sense of wonder of our commission, we shall become like common traders in the common market, babbling about common wares.'" p.11

Lutzer's definition of God's Call: "God's call is an inner conviction given by the Holy Spirit and confirmed by the Word of God, and the body of Christ."

Notice the three characteristics of the call found in the definition:

1. It is an inner conviction. Feelings and hunches come and go (a conviction remains.)

2. The Word of God will confirm our call. We have to ask whether a person has the qualifications listed in I Timothy 3. Is he mature? Does he have the necessary gifts? Has he labored in the Word of God and doctrine?

3. The body of Christ helps to understand where we fit within the local church framework. The body enables its members to find their spiritual gifts and is a testing ground for further ministry. Those who are faithful in the least may later be entrusted with greater responsibility. p.11-13