I’m convinced from Scripture and almost 27 years of pastoral ministry that the local church is the primary training and equipping ground for those aspiring to ministry and for Christians in general.
Now, I found myself in a bit of trouble when I suggested this in the first chapter of my DMin project a few years ago, the seminary professor who served as my advisor took umbrage with this notion. The question asked me was, “So you’re saying seminaries have no role?” As I softened my position in the project, I now ten years removed from when I first wrote that am now even more convinced that the local church takes this primary role of training and equipping.
About a year ago, I established at our church a Shepherding Team. This team had a twofold purpose: (1) to provide a group of men to give me feedback on areas of ministry–men who are into the Word, already teach, and demonstrate a pastoral bent; and (2) men who have some sense of calling to ministry that I could help foster. We meet for two hours once a month (usually the last Tuesday of the month) with this typical agenda:
6:30 pm: Prayer for each other and the flock
6:45 pm: Examining a passage of Scripture dealing with ministry and character
7:30 pm: Evaluating sermons preached/to be preached by members of the Shepherding Team. We not only evaluated the intro, body, and conclusion, but the Christ-centered nature of the sermon, the illustrations, and faithfulness to the text.
8:30 pm: Adjourn
What are some other ways this helps?
- Practically, you can have someone inside your church that knows the people and the culture (and whom the people know and do live with). Trust and support already exist.
- This helps when, in our case, you do not have an associate pastor to always lean on when you’re out. This provided an opportunity to get these faithful men behind the pulpit.
- This encourages your church in seeing one of their own step out in ministry–and may cause them to evaluate their own callings as well. It’s one thing for a ‘trained professional’ to do this, but God is calling those from our churches to do this as well.
This could be construed as a ‘humble brag,’ which is something many of us have perfected to an artform. But God brought them here, God called them, God gives the words, God opens and changes hearts. And God calls us as leaders to shepherd and steward not just money and things but people to help them pursue His call to wherever that may be.
To God be the glory!
The Lectio Divina means “holy reading” or “prayerful reading.” While my Christian tradition (Baptist) does not interact with this work, there are five phases included there which can help us in our prayer and devotional reading. Below is directly quoted from the work Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (by J. Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays).
Silencio —Prepare your heart to hear from God by slowing down. Get settled in one place and begin to quiet yourself before the Lord. As you cast your cares on him, intentionally begin to let go of the hurry and noise that often prevents us from listening to God. Now is the time to slow down.
Lectio —Select a passage of Scripture and read it slowly and out loud. Forget about reading quickly. Slow down. Use your imagination to picture yourself as part of the setting. Resist the temptation to analyze or judge the text or use the text to develop a message for someone else. Focus on listening as if God were speaking directly to you.
Meditatio —Read the passage again, pausing to let the words sink deeply into your mind and heart. As a particular word or phrase catches your attention, repeat it several times. Without trying to overspiritualize the meaning, ponder what God seems to be saying to you through these words. How does this word or phrase connect with your life right now?
Oratio —Respond by praying the passage as you read it a third time. Enter into a conversation with God. Honestly and truthfully talk with God about what he seems to be saying to you through this passage. Now is the time to respond to God. How does the passage make you feel? What action or attitude is God calling you to embrace? Respond from your heart to what God is saying.
Contemplatio —Rest and wait patiently in the presence of God. As you give God’s Spirit time to work in your life, yield to him. Entrust your past, present, and future to the Lord in light of what he has spoken. Ask the Lord to continue to do his transforming work throughout the day as you continue to listen. Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Being a disciple of Jesus means we take time to commune with Him via prayer and the Word.
“I wish I could reach and minister to one million people.”
“Then start with being faithful to where you are now.”
I had this conversation with someone almost five years ago. He was looking and dreaming about being, in essence, the next Billy Graham in wanting to reach the masses.
I was reminded of Jesus’ workds, “One who is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in very little is also dishonest in much.” These works show us the priority of taking care of what, to us, seems small and insignificant. There’s an old hymn:
Does the place you’re called to labor
Seem so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it,
And He’ll not forget His own.
Little is much when God is in it,
Labor not for wealth or fame.
There’s a crown and you can win it
When you go in Jesus’ name.
Discipleship starts with Be–being the One who is ready to trust God with hope and joy that Jesus is enough. Start where you are. You don’t need titles or crowds or celebrity. You need Jesus. He is enough. Start with Him. Start with Be.