Summary: Consider the pastor’s call and a church’s response to that call
God’s Glorious Church
Pastors: God Called or Church Called?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
March 6, 2005
Have you ever received one of those chain letters that tells you to send a copy of the letter to several other people, add your name to the list, and so on? There’s a story about a church that decided to include in their newsletter something similar. It had some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for church members unhappy with their pastor: "Simply send a copy of this letter to six other churches who are tired of their ministers. Then bundle up your pastor and send him to the church at the top of the list. Add your name to the bottom of the list. In one week you will receive 16,436 ministers, and one of them should be a dandy. Have faith in this letter. One man broke the chain and got his old minister back."
Preacher jokes abound don’t they? They’re like Aggie jokes. It seems like everybody has one. “Do you know how I knew I wanted to become a preacher? I woke up one morning with a strong urge for fried chicken and feeling like being lazy, so I knew I was called to preach.” “Preachers work how many hours per week? Three!”
Some people like to think of creative things to say on the way out the door. “That was a nice little talk preacher.” I came across some others I thought you’d enjoy this morning.
• "You always manage to find something to fill up the time."
• "I don’t care what they say, I like your sermons."
• "If I’d known you were going to be good today I’d have brought a neighbor."
• "Did you know there are 243 panes of glass in the windows?"
• "We shouldn’t make you preach so often."
I have to admit that preachers have done much to hurt themselves. We usually think of the televangelists and how they have ripped off the masses. They have given pastors, preaching and the Lord’s true churches a bad name, but it’s not just them. In fact, you probably know a pastor or two who has hurt his credibility because of his own sin or character flaws.
This morning as I address the subject of pastors, I want you to know that although there is much fun to be had at the expense of pastors, and there is much fun to be had with your pastor, pastoring one of the Lord’s churches is no laughing matter. In fact, it is what I believe to be the highest and most important calling on the face of the earth. Pastoring and preaching are second to none, and as I spend today and the next two Sundays speaking about pastoring and preaching, I want you to go away with a better understanding of and a deeper appreciation for the men God has placed in your lives we call pastors.
As much as possible, hear this message as I speak about pastors in general and not about me in particular. We are in the middle of a series of messages concerning the Lord’s churches. So far as the Bible teaches, there are two ordained offices in the church: that of the pastor and the deacon. I want to be very clear with you this morning that I am not preaching this message for recognition, but because God wants you to understand the office of pastor. I want to deal with two things in particular: first, what is meant by the call? We talk about pastors being God-called, and we talk about them being called by a church. Second, I believe that as members of the Lord’s churches, there are certain responses we owe to pastors in light of his calling.
Understand the Calling
First let’s consider what it means to be God-called. In 1 Timothy 1, the apostle Paul was writing to the young pastor Timothy and was encouraging him to fulfill his calling as the pastor of the church at Ephesus. He told Timothy that some were living contrary to sound doctrine, which is according to the gospel of Christ. Then I want you to see what he said to Timothy in verses 11-12.
“According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.”
Now let’s take a look at 1 Timothy 3:1. Paul says,
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.”
In Romans 1:1, he said,
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated [or called] unto the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The call to pastor. The call to preach. What does it mean? In all the times I’ve heard people ask how you know whether God is calling you to preach, the answer is almost always the same: “You just know.”