Pastoral ministry: defence against our enemiesWithin the church sits Pastoral ministry - a defence against the enemies of the sheep, a ministry that feeds and waters the sheep, and a ministry that ensures the mental, emotional and spiritual health of the sheep.
This is obviously a Biblical statement, yet it seems like a strange one. This is because the concept of church has morphed into 'pastoral church', so the idea of church being something that contains pastoral ministry rather than something that is pastoral ministry [and in some cases optionally contains pastoral prophetic ministry, pastoral evangelistic ministry, pastoral apostolic ministries or missionaries and pastoral teaching ministries] is strange to the modern Christian.
As the Lord's return so obviously approaches, the restoration of Christ's church must obviously also progress - a church that is defined by Jesus as apostolic in nature (Matt 16:18), and containing evangelistic, pastoral, teaching and prophetic ministry. It is a huge mistake to ignore pastoral ministry, under the assumption that in the modern world, this ministry is developed, dominant and available. This may not actually be true.
The fleshOne of the enemies of the Christian is the flesh. We need to be blunt and brutally frank about the flesh, calling a spade a spade. Sin must be called out for what it is, and not somehow rationalised into some kind of sinless spirituality, a heresy first promoted in the early church. The flesh must be 'mortified' by starvation, and pastoral preaching must make very clear to every generation, in their language, what this means. Salvation is really 'salvation from sin', and is a complete package which fully equips a Christian to defeat the flesh by starvation, providing as it does an alternative 'dopamine' rush as a key weapon in its arsenal. Sin is sweet, but for the Christian, so is righteousness. Instead of submitting to the flesh, I can yield to the Holy Spirit. What this means is that I can starve the flesh, and still be bright eyed and fully of joy, both in the short and the long term. Because of the Holy Spirit, dying to self is not this big, super painful deal.
In Christ's church, the ultimate privilege of a five fold minister is to teach the principles of the kingdom by way of martyrdom. By facing physical death with the joy of the Lord, the 'five fold' pastor teaches current and future generations alike that 'mortifying' the flesh is not as painful as the carnal man might imagine, because of the comfort of the Holy Spirit. If we are serious about restoration, we need to be willing to examine and face up to the mistakes the church made earlier in its history, beginning in the years between AD 33 and AD 70. Down through the years, the church's attitude to martyrdom has been the trigger for a deviation either to one side or another from its original identity and mission.
Old Testament scriptures teach us that the presence of God has a right and proper receptable in the earth, which is Christ's original church. The restoration of Christ's original church in cities, and the inevitable 'answering by fire' is really what City Fires is all about, and in this regard, the development of Pastoral ministry is of enormous importance.
The devilPastors must also protect the sheep against the devil. In this regard, I want to examine the subject of deliverance. In order to do so, I must first introduce a concept which I believe is necessary for the church to understand in order to transition to its aggressive, penetrative identity with pastoral ministry on board. The concept is perspective. Every ministry will approach deliverance from a different perspective, allowing them to make different but complimentary contributions to a team effort around a particular problem. Team is another strange world in our modern, Protestant church era where separation, distinction and in some cases, a literal padlock have been the only weapons available to us. Let me therefore speak about deliverance from a pastoral perspective.
Believers can have certain barriers in their thinking, to growth and, indeed, to the flow of Divine life. There is a particular aspect, or area in their life in which they simply cannot behave like Christians. Without deliverance, the most a pastor can do is try to protect that individual from being in situations which expose this point at which they appear defenceless against the enemy - literally an open doorway, a point of access through which control of soul is handed to the devil.. Along with the teacher, a pastor must perceive deliverance as the breaking down of a stronghold in the mind, but must understand that this stronghold (a strong, fortified area of erroneous thinking) was suggested by the devil as a future means of protection in response to an injury which has been sustained. Identifying the injury (which is, in all likelihood, still unhealed), and applying the compassion and healing ministry of Jesus is the pastor's contribution to the deliverance of that individual. The stronghold easily comes down because it is no longer needed, and the access and subsequent control of the devil is no longer possible because the stronghold has disappeared. The proof of deliverance is that the normal flow of Christ's divine life is restored, and that person begins to bear normal Christian fruit.
The world The five fold pastor must understand how to lead his sheep beside still waters, restoring their soul and helping them to stay in a place of contentedness, rest and prosperity of soul. The antidote to the allure of the 'green grass' in the world, is the availability of still water and 'greener grass' in the kingdom. Part of God's missionary plan both through Israel and through his church is the witness of prosperity - "a people who know their God shall be strong and shall do exploits". The divine intention was always that a close relationship with God would be advertised as an attractive option, and God's chief advert for a close relationship with Him is the prosperity (of soul) of his saints. Pastors, therefore, play a huge role in missions within our cities by managing and maintaining the welfare and (soul) prosperity of the saints (the essence of government). It is because of this perspective that pastors play a leading role in church government, mandating, but not replacing, the ministry of pastoral administration.
AdministrationPut bluntly, it is irresponsible for the five fold ministry pastor to function as the church administrator, or even as the church's pastoral administrator. Rather, following the example of Jesus in feeding the five thousand, the bread and fish which was blessed must be delivered to faithful disciples with the help of a recognized, ordained and TRUSTED ministry of administration (without faith it is impossible to please God).
The faith inherent in pastoral ministry must therefore include faith for the development of ministry in disciples, and faith for the grace to nurture, prune and guide this development.