What would the over 70 per cent of the population of Ghana who identify themselves as church members expect from their pastors? People go to church for several different reasons.
The expectations of church members of their pastor are different from church member to church member depending upon the spiritual, social and economic needs of the members. For example, church members hit by loss of jobs and source of daily income due to COVID-19 disruptions will look for help from the Church.
But the question still stands: “What do we expect from our pastors?” And to answer this question well, we have to look at what the Church exists for and what the Lord Jesus expects from the heads of the Church and pastors.
The Church exists to carry out the following five-point mission:
• Proclaim the Gospel or the Good News of the kingdom of God - Biblical evangelism.
• Teach, baptise and nurture new believers – intentional disciple making.
• Respond to social needs by loving service.
• Seek to transform the unjust structures of society - Justice, mercy and peace services.
• Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation. Responsible care of the environment.
However, the above five-point mission of the Church is not to be carried out by the pastors only. No. It is the mission of the entire Church body. It is the responsibility of all the true followers of Jesus who make up the church congregation and denomination. And these tasks can best be carried out by mature Christlike disciples.
The Bible teaches that each true believer has been gifted by Christ and is to use these gifts and talents to build up the body of Christ, the Church – and for the Church to carry out its mission in the community, country and the world. “However, he has given each one of us a special gift(s) through the generosity of Christ. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:7,16 NLT)
It is, therefore, extremely important for heads of churches to focus on disciple making and the equipping of the believers as their chief Church ministry task. Indeed, what the Lord Jesus expects from the heads of churches and pastors and His foundational command to them is: “Make disciples.” “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19a & 20 NLT).
In fact, the Apostle Paul’s overriding purpose in Church ministry is to raise mature Christlike disciples: “He (Jesus) is whom we proclaim. We teach everyone and instruct everyone in all the ways of wisdom, so as to present each one of you as a mature member of Christ’s body.
To this end, I am toiling strenuously with all the energy and power of Christ at work in me.” (Colossians 1:28,29 REB).
Thus, the heads of churches, pastors and Church leaders are to focus on disciple making and to equip the believers to carry out the holistic mission of the Church in their communities, country and the nations. We see from Scripture that the Church leaders’ and pastors’ main task is disciple making and to teach the disciples to live a holistic Christlike lifestyle of integrity in every area of life.
Since the early Church, there has been the challenge of leadership focus in Church ministry. This challenge of leadership focus in Church ministry is still with us today; and it is a big threat to healthy Church renewal and growth in our churches. We see this challenge of leadership focus in Church ministry wisely and excellently managed by the apostles in the early Church (Acts 2 – 6).
The early Church experienced rapid Church renewal and Church growth. And in Acts 6, a problem that came up was a weak welfare service in the Church; and food supplies were not getting to some Church members well. The problem needed to be fixed: “So the
Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, ‘We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food programme. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.’” (Acts 6:2-4 NLT).
The apostles would not be distracted from what Christ expected of them to get involved in other needful services in the Church. No. They resolved to focus on the main tasks of leadership in Church ministry. In order to obey Christ’s instruction or command, they reaffirmed their job description. It had only two items:
• “Devote yourself to prayer.” (In Christ’s Gospel ministry, prayer is critical and essential work. In top Church ministry leadership role, prayer must be our first line of action as work, rather than our last resort. See 1 Timothy 2:1-6)
• “Pursue the diligent ministry of preaching and teaching the Word.” That is, make every effort “to rightly divide the Word of Truth”; to properly and accurately explain God’s Word, the Bible in preaching and teaching in the Church. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV).
As a head of Church or pastor, where is your focus in your Church ministry leadership roles? What is keeping you from the focus and core attention that the Lord Jesus requires of you? How will you recover your biblical leadership focus in Church ministry?
Indeed, there is the challenge of leadership focus in Church ministry. And key Church leaders and pastors need to be asking, “What specifically has God called me to do in the Church ministry leadership opportunity I have now?” In Church ministry leadership, we must serve Christ. We must fulfil Christ’s purpose.
The author is a consultant in authentic Christian Spirituality and Discipleship and former CEO of Scripture Union.