Summary: Our outreach suffers because too many church members sit in the pew expecting their pastor to do all the work. Here we find three biblical concepts that will challenge us to reconsider our expectations of the pastor as well as our own level of involvement
Title: Help Wanted
Series: The Harvest Is Ripe
Text: Matthew 9:35-38
Theme: The outreach of many churches suffers because too many church members sit in the pew expecting their pastor to do all the work. In this passage, Jesus reveals three biblical concepts that will challenge us to reconsider our expectations of the pastor as well as our own level of involvement.
Introduction: Real Treasure
An old farmer who was about to die called his two sons to his bedside and said, "My boys, my farm and the fields are yours in equal shares. I leave you a little ready money but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground, not more than eighteen inches from the surface. I regret that I’ve forgotten precisely where it lies."
When the old man was dead and buried his two sons set to work to dig up every inch of ground in order to find the buried treasure. They failed to find it but as they’d gone to all the trouble of turning over the soil they thought they might as well sow a crop, which they did, reaping a good harvest.
In autumn as soon as they had an opportunity they dug for the treasure again but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood they reaped better harvests than anyone else.
Year after year their search continued. Only when they had grown much older and wiser did they realize what their father had meant. Real treasure comes as a result of hard work. (Source unknown)
The same can be said of the evangelistic efforts of the church; it takes hard work. But hard work alone will not yield a successful harvest of souls. I find that far too many believers seem to think that evangelism is the sole responsibility of the pastor and his staff. And when the number of new converts begins to dwindle, they often complain that the pastor is not working hard enough. As we consider the strategies of Jesus Christ in personal evangelism, we will quickly learn how misguided our expectations of the pastor have become. We will also discover that successful evangelism requires us to do more than just quote the Romans Road and lead a person in a prayer. In Matthew 9:35-38, we find in the ministry of Jesus Christ three biblical concepts that will lead us to successful outreach and evangelism; (1) do ministry, (2) show compassion, and (3) develop a vision. And we will also find that no church can be successful in evangelism unless the entire church joins together to reach their community for Christ.
I. CONCEPT ONE: DO MINISTRY. (Matthew 9:35)
A. The Ministry Of Teaching.
1. The ministry of teaching is primarily directed at believers who need to be established in the faith. (Colossians 2:6-7)
2. Teaching is the primary responsibility of the pastor.
a. A pastor is to be qualified to teach. (1 Timothy 3:2)
i. It is interesting to note that Paul’s list of qualifications for a bishop includes teaching, but not evangelism.
ii. He did tell Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), so we understand that evangelism is a responsibility for a pastor, but no more so than for any other believer.
iii. As MacArthur points out, “It is important to note, therefore, that Paul does not call Timothy an evangelist but rather calls him to do the work of an evangelist. In other words, proclaiming the gospel of salvation was an important part of, but was not all of, Timothy’s ministry. As he preached, taught, and pastored those who already belonged to the Lord, he also was to confront the lost--in particular, nominal Christians within the church--with their need of a Savior.” (“The MacArthur New Testament Commentary,” (c) Moody Press and John MacArthur, Jr., 1983-2002)
iv. We conclude, therefore, that teaching, for a pastor, is a greater priority than evangelism.
a) This does not mean that evangelism is unimportant, and something that he never engages in (2 Timothy 4:5).
b) The reason for this priority is that the pastor is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and edify the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)
c) Evangelists and pastors/teachers are two distinct groups of people whom God uses in different capacities to edify the church.
d) God blesses the ministry of each according to how they utilize their particular gift.
e) The evangelist edifies the church through his evangelistic gift.
f) The pastor/teacher edifies the church through his teaching gift.
g) When either neglects their gift the church suffers and growth (both personal spiritual growth and numerical growth) is stunted.