PASTOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES TO THE CHURCH
Elder David Green
is a true saying, If a man
desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."
(1 Timothy 3:1).
The call to pastor one of the Lord's churches is a higher calling than to be elected President of the United States of America. There is not enough fame and fortune out there to convince me that this is not true. It would be a step down for the man of God to be elected President of the USA or to be the CEO of some large company.
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock." (1 Peter 5:1-3).
The responsibility of feeding has been called by some theologians as being the primary responsibility of the pastor. And, in studying the Scripture, I would tend to agree that this is his foundational responsibility to the church. Just as we need physical food, so we also need spiritual. Without either, we would be malnourished and starve. Just as a shepherd is responsible to feed his flock, so is the pastor responsible for the feeding of the church that the Lord has placed him in.
Let us expound a little on this text. We need to notice some very important things here: This feeding the flock should come willingly, not because the pastor is forced to do it, or because of the money....he ought to do it willingly and with a ready mind being a leader who is one who does by example!
Peter was a good one to write on this subject, since he had learned it from our Lord earlier:
"So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17).
Notice how Christ equates the feeding of the flock to Peter's love for the Lord. The pastor who does not feed the sheep does not have the proper love for the Lord.
Notice also, Christ says to feed His lambs (young ones) as well as His sheep (mature adults). All need to be fed, both young and old! A pastor should not focus on the one so much that the other gets neglected.
"As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:" (1 Peter 2:2).
The lambs need the milk of the Word. Note that it is “of the word.” Some churches and pastors get the idea to have all sorts of extra programs that have nothing to do with the word. Sunday School programs and Vacation Bible Schools are good, as long as the Bible is taught. As a child, I went to some Bible Schools and sat in some Sunday Schools (not at King's Addition) where the focus was food and crafts, fun and games. It's ok to have fun, food, games and crafts but those things should not be the main attraction. My grandfather and Brother Willard Pyle used to have Bible Schools and kids would come from all around....And you know what was taught? The Bible! And that's the way it should be.
"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." (Hebrews 5:12-14).
We find in the Scripture that spiritual feeding includes milk (for the young) and meat for the older. And the Bible has both! Think back to when you were first saved. You did not know very much. As you get older you grow and go from milk to meat. And we never get to the point of knowing everything. In fact, the more I study the more I learn and as I study I find more I don't know!
"Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:2).
The pastor feeds the flock when he preaches the Word of God. Some men will get up into the pulpit and never open their Bibles. And they call that preaching!?! The sad thing is, thousands enjoy that type. No, that is not preaching! I'd equate it to going to a restaurant to eat and finding only plates and forks at the table. Where is the food?
"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Timothy 4:16).
The pastor is to take heed to himself and to the doctrine he preaches. By doing this he is saving himself as well as those who hear him from the pollutions of the world, from the errors and heresies of false teachers, and from all just blame in his ministry.
"A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;" (1 Timothy 3:2).
One of the qualifications listed in this passage is that he be “apt to teach.” He must be able to learn and then be able to communicate what he has learned to the people. Teaching can be difficult, and not everyone can teach but the pastor needs to be able to teach. I have heard some men get into the pulpit and they obviously had a great knowledge of the King's English, as well as the Greek & Hebrew, but they were unable to teach. Pastor's need to teach!
watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an
evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." (2
This teaching is not limited to the church members. A pastor should have a love and concern for the lost to the point that he will “do the work of an evangelist.” The Great Commission demands it be done!
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).
The pastor of the Lord's church needs to study! The church ought to expect this from him, and make sure he has time to do it. If a pastor does not study in private, he will be of little use to the church in public. Scripture demands that he study!
Now, perhaps you have heard some men who actually brag about their lack of studying. Perhaps you have heard of men who actually say “If the Lord calls a man to preach, then He will give the man something to say.” Yet, according to the passage we just read, God uses study as the means of filling the mouths of the men He calls to deliver His message. In order to teach and preach, he must study!
I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given
thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to
them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take
heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in
doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."
(1 Timothy 4:13-16).
Paul’s advice to Timothy was to read. All of God’s people need to read, but especially the pastor needs to read. If possible, he ought to read and study about many different subjects…especially those subjects people usually think about that are found in the Bible – church truths, doctrines of grace, eschatology, etc. And there are many sound books available for study. But there are others – history, astronomy, biology, geology, anthropology, paleontology, current events, etc. And the pastor needs to know something about each of these subjects. The pastor does not need to be an expert in every subject known to mankind, but he needs to know enough so that he can be safe from heresies which so frequently come up around us.
cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring
with thee, and the books,
but especially the parchments."
(2 Timothy 4:13).
Not only did Paul advise Timothy to read, but he also read. Now, Paul was a great apostle. He was inspired to write much of the New Testament. He had seen the Lord. He had been caught up into the third heaven and seen things unlawful for a man to utter. Yet he wanted his books! If anyone could ever say he was above reading books, it could have been Paul. But he never said it and was not ashamed to let others know he read!
"And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." (Acts 6:1-4).
The office of the deacon came about as a result of the apostles desire to continually pray. They needed to pray that the Lord will bless their ministry, keep them from sin, watch over the people, etc etc. They knew the need of prayer. After all, the Lord taught them to pray during His ministry:
it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to
pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." (Luke
Before our Lord called His apostles, He spent all night in prayer.
they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his
disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And
he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore
amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto
them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and
watch. And he went forward a little, and fell
on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might
pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all
things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me:
nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. And
he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon,
sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch
ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is
ready, but the flesh is weak." (Mark
Again, here we find Him spending the hours before the betrayal in prayer. If our Lord put so much importance on prayer in His ministry, how much more the Pastor ought to place prayer to be important in his ministry?!? Jesus was perfect and sinless. We are far from perfect and sinful people. How much we need to pray!
as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing
to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all
your heart: for consider how great things
he hath done for you."
(1 Samuel 12:23-24).
Now, I know there were no pastors in the Baptist sense of the word in the Old Testament, but this is true today as much as it was way back then. Pastors need to pray.
TO THE FLOCK
"Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 23:1-2).
The Lord holds the pastor responsible for the welfare of the sheep. It is the pastor's responsibility to minister to them at church services, but also in the places where they may end up: hospitals, homes, nursing homes, etc. To minister to them when they are sick, depressed, discouraged, etc. The Pastor cannot be everywhere at once, so the church ought to give him a break when he isn't able to be somewhere immediately. But a good Pastor will make every effort to be where the members need him to be.
"For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:27-30).
The responsibility of the pastor to the church is a MAJOR responsibility. And it is not his only responsibilities. He also has responsibilities to his family, secular job (if he has one), etc, which were not even considered in this sermon.
But in this passage we find out why his responsibilities to the church are so important. The Lord died for His churches. And the devil would love to harm the flock. By fulfilling his duty in feeding the flock, the church is better fit to glorify Almighty God.