Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Pastor as Leader - Part Two

Part one of this leadership seminar can be found here. (Sorry it took so long to get to the next installment!)

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On the topic of evangelism: Do you see a difference between pastor and evangelist?

K: Yes. I think there is a gifting in evangelistic ministry. In another sense, all pastors and Christians are responsible for sharing the gospel with others. There is an evangelistic gift. We sorely need people today who can preach the gospel to the lost in a way that people respond to positively. We have to seriously examine the 70-80% dropout rate from high school ministry to university/college ministry. We have to examine how much they really have known the truth. That’s an enormous problem. My wife works in a medical office for a year, and because of bad experiences people no longer attend the church.

C: I’d agree with Kirk. There is a gift. Would you say that there are people who are not pastors but have that gift? (addressing Kirk)

K: Yes. I would agree with that.

C: There are a couple of guys like that in our church. They are creative in the ways they share the gospel with others. You want to put these people into positions of leadership.

D: One of my problems with evangelism is its narrow track. It’s inviting people into your home. A pastor is an evangelist in proclaiming the gospel every Sunday, when you preach you’re speaking about the glory of God that encourages others to be passionate about sharing God with others. I believe that evangelists must also train to be pastors as well.

2 Tim 4.5, “Do the work of an evangelist.” What does that mean?

K: It is inviting people into your home. Yes. But it is also men like Ravi Zacharias who are challenging the ideologies of the day. It is making a compelling argument for Christ and causing people to come to Christ without just calling people to repentance.

D: It’s interesting that the context of that passage is “Preach the Word.” It is the gospel that saves people. When you’re preaching the Word, even to believers, you’re telling people about what they’re missing without Christ.

C: There is an office of evangelism, but all pastors need to be evangelists. People need to know that you love them and care about them. Don’t preach Christ in an indifferent way. You’re speaking about eternal life and eternal death. You better come across that way, even if they don’t agree with your approach. The gospel ministry is about life and death. Don’t get discouraged because you don’t see a lot of fruit.

Do you disagree with add-on evangelism, i.e. tacking on a plea to sinners at the end of a sermon?

P: Spurgeon points out that you need to be strategic about when to add the gospel in a message. The gospel must be kept precious. It is a danger to keep using the same catch phrases and turning people off to the core gospel message.

K: Absolutely. In a way, you cannot separate evangelism from what we say. Everything we say has an evangelistic thrust to it whether we’re speaking to Christians or non-Christians, what we say needs to speak of the gospel. Without falling prey to superficial relevance, our preaching needs to be driven by careful thought about where people are at and what people are thinking. A pastor can easily lose touch with the current trends of the time. The key is to keep in touch with the times. It’s not to say that we’re not experts to modern culture, but weave the gospel through that in a way that sticks in people’s minds. You have to at least be aware of what is going on.

Eph 4:11—Are these offices still around today? How many are there? Would you have evangelist as a church office?

K: The office of apostle is no longer in force. There is a progression in the NT. This is the cause of confusion in the charismatic circles. The only one that is valid is pastors and teachers. You don’t have apostles in the sense of the Twelve, but you do have leaders in the church, not in the sense of divinely inspired words. There is a compelling force of what seems to work (e.g. Pentecostalism).

D: If you want to evangelize, evangelize. Support it, teach it, etc.

We often encourage others to be missionaries, but maybe we need to missionaries of our own culture.

C: You need to send people out to our own culture. The greatest need is to get people doing it. Historically, the church grows through personal evangelism. How you do that is tough. You, the pastor, ought to be able to come to prayer meeting and say that I witnessed to so and so. Then you start praying for opportunities. You have to put tracts and pamphlets in their faces so that people are not just writing checks to missions.

There are a few churches in Canada who have an office of evangelism, but their actual practice was paying a pastor to evangelize.

K: One thing we must keep in mind as Baptists is regarding our children as sinners. Bringing children into the world bears a deep responsibility to bring them into salvation in Christ. Churches need to take heed to the warning that parents must take the responsibility to do everything possible to secure salvation for their children.

D: One of the things to do from the pulpit is to address the children (given that children are in the service). It’s a powerful way of indirectly addressing parents and non-believers. Speak to the children throughout the sermon. Make them feel special although they don’t understand everything about it. Let them know that the gospel is also for them.

C: I agree with you 100%. Sometimes I forget to do that. One thing another pastor does is sit down at lunch and ask the children what they learned from the sermon. (He shared a story at this point.)

Can you give us some examples of personal evangelism?

K: I go to a gym and conversations sometimes arise (with men of course!). You don’t want to tell people you’re a pastor right away.

C: A couple of things. I am involved in are a soccer league where half the people are non-Christians. I have a barber who is a Jehovah’s Witness, even though I pay more I still go there so that I can speak of Christ.

D: A lot of evangelism is done through the church, through preaching. A lot of what I do is motivating people to witness to others. A lot of what I do is through the church, making inroads into the community in different ways, not trying to make the church too busy.