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Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically

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John MacArthur and a team of authors from the staff of the Masters College and Seminary combine their pastoral expertise and resources to publish the book, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. This book is targeted to seasoned pastors and men and women who are just beginning ministry. There are four section of the book and each section calls the pastor back to the scripture which many have left.

Pastoral ministry had to be rediscovered because of uncertain identify, institutional disenchantment, lack of leadership, the future of evangelicalism hangs in the balance, no clear explanation of scripture, cultural isolation, unbiblical teaching, and emerging, and the ministry as it is being shifted from truth-orientation to a market response ministry (3-4). In order to challenge the ministry, the church must look to the Scriptures which seems, has been forgotten.

Questions are arising in the minds of Christian in the twenty-first century, what are pastors in the twenty-first century teaching? Are the scriptures being taught as opinions or truth? Is the pastor to teach what man wants to hear or what God wants to speak through him? Every ministry must be in the will of God who want to be approved workers of the gospel and not disapproved workers. MacArthur states “God’s calling, prayer, priorities, worship, preaching, outreach, discipleship, and other aspects of shepherding Christ’s flock are examined, challenging pastors to deepen the biblical roots of their own ministries” (inside cover).

Paul warns Timothy about two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught that the resurrection of believers had already occurred (1 Timothy 1:20). This was probably an early form of Gnosticism that emphasized a spiritual resurrection over against the Christian belief in a future bodily resurrection (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

John MacArthur and his Master’s faculty gives details on how a pastor should build his ministry using (1) Biblical Perspectives, (2) Preparatory Perspectives, (3) Personal Perspectives, and (4) Pastoral Perspectives that are given in his book, Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically. Pastors need to determine if they are going to preach and live biblical or not. They need to stand on the Scriptures taught in the Bible because they will always be under-shepherds God has called to do the work of the ministry (Acts 20:28), therefore they assume quite a responsibility when they accept the task of exhorting and reproving on Christ’s behalf (Titus 1:9).

MacArthur uses scripture to back up the Word of God, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). No matter where in Pastoral Ministry one might turn, he will recognize the emphasis the Master’s team places of the character requirements and integrity of a pastor. “The theme of the text is a pastor has moral direction, have leadership responsibilities such as inspiring and motivating his congregation toward outreach, spiritual vitality, and active Christ likeness” (225).

As Alex D. Montoya writes: “Inspiration begins and ends with attitude.
Inspiration is a spiritual artificial where the one who is inspired give inspiration to those who have nine. Good leaders are consistently optimistic and full of faith. They do not have an attitude problem” (239). He goes on to state: “The pastorate is not an easy task; it is not for the fainthearted, for the weak, for those who want to avoid hardship. It is an extremely “hot Kitchen,” and if one cannot stand the heat or does not want to endure it, then he needs to get out” (240).

According to S. Lance Quinn, God has call pastors to make disciples, which is seen in the Old Testament. He gives Moses as an example of choosing experience men “how can I alone bear the load and burden of you and your strife? Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads” (Deut. 1:12-13). The qualities of the leaders had to reflect attributes of God. These men had to have the ability to bring harmony even when great differences exists, and had the ability of wisdom to penetrate the realities of life from God’s perspective and to deal fairly with all parties in a dispute. In the New Testament, the writer gives his example from a mandate from Jesus:

“And Jesus came up and spoke to then, saying, all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. God therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

This shows the Great Commission that Jesus place on the disciples. Making disciples involves three steps: going, baptizing, and teaching. It was assumed that when a person trusted in the Lord Jesus, he or she would be baptized in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together.

John MacArthur gives the readers a chapter on frequently asked questions, which is a plus to the readers. Some of these questions are as follows: To whom does a pastor look as his own pastor? Where do you look for shepherding in your own life? Is there one particular person to whom you would go when you need personal advice on a tough subject? Question like these and many more were answered according to MacArthur’s life as a pastor. There are so many pastors who have no one to turn to, and then what answers are given to them? Personal support is so important when being a pastor over a flock. The pastor is there for the congregation so the appointed men of God should be there for the pastor.

According to statistics compiles for the book Preventing Ministry Failure:
20% of ministers in the United States admit to having an affair while in the ministry, 70% do not have someone they consider a close friend, 90% feel inadequately trained to cope with ministry demands, 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negative, 37% admit that Internet pornography is a current struggle, 45% say they’re experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence, and 25% have been forced out of or fired from their ministry at least once.”

MacArthur’s book Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically, gives the pastors a guide that will be helpful to the state of ministry failure that is happen all around us. MacArthur’s book will actually say that these pastors have actually unwitting surrendered their qualifications for the pastorate and are no longer eligible to hold this high office. He points out that these ministers are not fit to be leaders over the flock that God has placed in their hands. Is Macarthur’s team harsh in their responsive, no? A teaching of a great minister is what the world needs today. If the pastors would live godly lives, then the sinners would see and believe that God is real and can be real in their lives.

The subject of women in ministry was left out of the author’s faithfulness to scriptures with regards to a pastor’s qualifications. At several points the authors touch on Paul’s references to the pastor being a “husband of one wife” (68, 122), and from page to page the authors reference to masculine as pastors. There was no debate over women directly, in the ministry however, this could have been an oversight. The authors might have feared that the qualifications that were presented would have offended the women pastors. Women are more effective in the ministry and are not easy to fail in ministry. When providing the qualifications of a pastor, the writer should express the gender of the pastor as a direct discussion. CONCLUSION

I would recommend this book to all the pastors and those men and women who want to become pastors. I believe this is a training ground for those who are truly called into ministry. Sometimes a person can believe strongly that he or she is called to be a pastor, and have been called into another area of ministry. I have seen pastors that left the ministry of music believing that they were call to pastor and failed at the pastorate.

I believe that strength, wisdom, and knowledge are the strong points of being a pastor. A pastor has to deal with so many personalities that he or she is drained at some point in their life. I was call into the office of evangelist, and I know this because I have a desire for the salvation of people especially women. Therefore, I must certainly prioritize my own training and character in order to become a qualified and proven woman of God. I found chapters 5 and 6 “character of a pastor and the call to pastoral ministry to be the most applicable chapters of all.

Wilson, Michael Todd, and Brad Hoffmann, Preventing Ministry Failure: a ShepherdCare guide for Pastors, Ministries and Other Caregivers. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2007.

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