Field Notes – 8/11/W
“The New Testament models singing, prayer, and preaching at every corporate worship service, with the priority placed on preaching. It instructs for giving every week, regular Scripture reading, and frequent baptism/communion.” (Jesse Johnson)
“When non-Christians encounter your church it should be like standing at that window, not staring blankly at a brick wall.
They should feel the warmth of your love, as you welcome them and engage them as people made in the image of God.
They should see the depth of relationships, as they witness people who have no reason to care for one another go out of their way to serve.
They should taste the richness of the gospel, as God’s word is preached and taught in a manner that connects with their lives.
And they should hear the inviting sounds of a joyful community, as they listen to the praises and prayers of a people who worship our crucified and risen Lord.”
“Fight and make it a priority to attend your local church on a weekly basis… I understand things come up. Illness happens. Vacations occur. There are providential workings of God that may cause a child of God to miss church. But please hear this: missing church should not be the norm; it should be the exception. It is your local church where Christ promises to walk amidst His people and bless them by speaking to them and ministering to them in very real and special ways.” (Geoffrey Kirkland)
How is a pastor like a fisherman? What traits do they share?
Passionate: He loves fish and loves to catch fish. It’s all his one-track mind thinks about.
Optimistic: He goes out expecting to catch and confident of catching no matter how misplaced his confidence seems to others.
Opportunistic: He looks for every little window of opportunity to get to the river or the lake. He keeps his tackle handy so that every time he passes a stretch of water that looks promising he can take the chance.
Equipped: He has a good, large, and strong net with no holes in it.
Skillful: He acquires many different skills and learns many different techniques and tactics
Sensitive: He has a sixth sense, an inexplicable feeling about just when and where the fish are about to bite. This is not about intelligence or education – it’s usually the result of long years of experience.
Sacrificial: He gives up time and money to fish. He gets up early and stays out late. He invests in equipment and training.
Courageous: Sometimes he has to go into difficult and dangerous places to catch the biggest fish.
Patient: He spends time casting, casting, casting, even when the fish keep swimming away.
Persevering: He goes back time and again, even when he’s failed many times before, even when everyone tells him it’s useless.
Prayerful: He knows that only God can put fish in his net.
Happy: He enjoys fishing even when he doesn’t catch anything. It refreshes and energizes him (John 4:32).
Successful: When he’s successful, lot’s of people ask him “What did you use?” “What did you do?” He’s happy to share his secret, because it is no secret. “I follow the Master Fisherman (Matthew 4:19). I stay close to Him, watch Him, imitate Him, love Him, and obey Him.”
Reflecting on the ministries of Mark Ruston and Mark Ashton who served at St Andrew the Great in Cambridge for combined total of 54 years, Mary Davis lists 5 possible advantages in the form of questions:
- Does long-term ministry provide the best environment for expository preaching?
- Is it best for developing good, solid relationships in the church family?
- Does it help guard against reliance on human strategies?
- Does it help avoid the temptation of careerism?
- Is it best for growth?
However this doesn’t mean that it wrong for a pastor to move on. She writes: “Of course there will always be times when a move will be the wisest thing. Personal circumstances involving children, spouse, ageing parents, or health perhaps. A pastor may be correct in concluding that he genuinely doesn’t have the necessary gifts or personality to lead the church forward to the next stage. There may be other factors too – perhaps the size of the church or the type of area (inner city, rural?) makes a difference.”
Yet I think she is right to say that “there are many significant advantages to long-term ministry.”