Thursday, November 03, 2016

Theological Statement, Part 8 - Ministry

Theological Statement, Part 1 - The Nature of God
Theological Statement, Part 2 - Jesus & the Holy Spirit
Theological Statement, Part 3 - The Bible
Theological Statement, Part 4 -The Human Condition
Theological Statement, Part 5 - Salvation
Theological Statement, Part 6 - Eschatology & Ecclesiology
Theological Statement, Part 7 - The Ordinances

(Painting: "In the Church of Aussee," by Emanuel Stockler, 1882)
The role of the laity – Having explained the place and function of the church in a previous section (Theological Statement, Part 6), it might simply suffice to say that the role of the laity is “all of the above.” I believe in the priesthood of all believers, that “ministry” is not something reserved for a special class of people, but is the proper prerogative of all Christians. As members of the Body of Christ, the mission of the laity is the same as the mission of the church. They are called to exercise their spiritual gifts to build up the Body of Christ, to work diligently, to pray continually, to speak the Good News to any who will listen, and, in short, to manifest in themselves as much of the ministry of Christ as the Holy Spirit gives them power to do.

The role of the minister – The minister is a person who has been called and equipped by the Holy Spirit to exercise and symbolize the pastoral and teaching ministries of Christ in the church. The primary vocation of the minister, then, following from Christ’s own ministry and his commission to Peter, is to love the people of the church (Jn. 21:15-17). The minister, in participation with the laity, cares for the spiritual needs of the flock, prays for them, encourages them, reproves them when necessary, helps to guide their leadership and decision-making processes, and offers teaching from the Bible. The minister acts as a lead worshiper for their congregation, administering the ordinances and showing in their life and conduct the clearest example of holiness of which they are capable. In all these things, though, the minister recognizes that “their church” is in fact not theirs at all, but God’s, and that they are merely a humble caretaker of what God has already done, and a midwife of what God is continuing to do.

Relationship to other pastors and churches – I consider it important to be in regular collegial fellowship with other pastors, both within my denomination and with other local pastors. Pastoral ministry has enough challenges, and I have enough limitations, that I count myself in need of the prayers, encouragements, and advice of my fellow ministers. As much as we are able, I also encourage our church to be in regular and intentional relationship with our associational sister churches, so that we may benefit from one another’s strengths and one another’s prayers. We also seek to actively partner with many other local churches, both Baptist and otherwise, to work together to expand the Kingdom of God in our area. Any church that holds to the biblical basics of orthodox Christian doctrine (and I include in this category all those churches that hold to these basics in the form of the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds) I consider to be a fit partner for brotherly dialogue, prayer, and cooperative ministry.