Summary: This is the Induction sermon for the new Assistant Pastor at an inner city church in Toronto
Can everyone hear me at the back? A preacher asked that once and someone called out: “Yes, but I wouldn't mind changing seats with someone who can't”.
Another pastor was greeting folks at the door after the service. A woman came up and said, "Pastor, that was a very good sermon." The pastor says, "Oh, I have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit." The woman responded: "O, it wasn't THAT good!"
This is a new day, a good day and the start of a new chapter in life for Lee and Helen. They are a couple who knows God and who knows the deep companionship of God in good times and in bad times.
They are a couple who have faced trial and adversity, and yet who have clung to God, trusting in his faithfulness and love. If you’re at all like me, it’s a little tough to separate Lee and Helen in your mind.
They are one of the most unified couples and, frankly, impressive teams I’ve known. They are best friends, business partners, ministry-partners and they are, as Lee has said, quite madly in love. That’s a good thing. A very good thing.
When a person is called to pastoral ministry, it can be a bit of a scary thing. But for the one who is called there is no greater joy than to serve God in this way. It’s said that one should be a pastor only if they can’t not be a pastor.
Being a pastor at Yonge Street Mission is a unique privilege unlike any other pastorate. I talk to pastors in more traditional settings and you can’t help but pick up a sense of loneliness, a sense of isolation, a sense of burden – the burden of one man or woman who carries the load of pastoral care for a group of people they love.
But I think the mission’s got it right. Lee, the calling you have as a pastor to this congregation and to this mission, to this city, is not that of a lone shepherd leading a flock. You are part of a team.
You are part of a marvelous group of people who are dedicated and passionate about Jesus Christ. Look around you…this church is your team.
Every person here who loves Jesus Christ with all their heart is a core team member.
Each one here who is a Christ-follower is your partner in the gospel, your fellow co-labourer in Jesus. Did you know that you are surrounded by priests of God?
1 Peter 2:9-10 says this: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Pastor Lee, this royal priesthood that surrounds you exists to declare the praises of God who has called each and every one of us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.
We’ve been declaring God’s praises here today in song and in prayer, in worship and adoration of the living God. This priesthood shares the calling with you to the mission of Jesus Christ to love the world, to seek and save those who are lost, and to enfold humanity into the love of God in Christ.
And among this royal priesthood, this body of believers, are the gifts of God intended to be used for the glory of God for the mission of God by the people of God. We don’t all do the same things. We don’t all serve the same function.
In Romans 12:4-7 the Apostle Paul says: “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully”.
Sometimes people are surprised by this. Sometimes we can think that the role of a pastor is to do everything in the church. That can be the way churches function, but it’s far off the Biblical mark. It is, plain and simple, not want God wants of His church.