What Every Minister Should Know

1033_32_3-Pulpit-BibleChurches rise and fall. The only constant in any Christian church is change, be it independent ministries, large churches or home churches.  Human nature fights against the will of God.  This is often blamed on many things: rebellion of the youth, an attack of Satan, a bad pastor, or many other things, but generally the most dangerous thing is what we all aim for the most: prosperity.  We become complacent, and begin to be content with our walk. We become “rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing”, and we don’t realise we are “poor, miserable, blind and naked”.

Often we count the offering or the growth of the church or the large church building as a sign that God is working for our church.  Sadly though, it can be just as equally a sign of problems.  We are told in the last days “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3).  But that is talking about the other churches right?  Not our church.

Yet our church, your church, everyone’s church splits into factions, “cliques” or independent ministries, whether it is based on age, interests or just a general sense of comfort in the company of one over another.   But was this God’s plan?  To have the old rule over the younger?  Or the younger rule over the older?  This is often quoted: “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder” (1 Peter 5:5), forgetting the very next verse: “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble”, and often ignoring the far more powerful requirement: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

If we submit to our Elders and they present the truth to us in a clear and logical way, without forfeiting our own mind or conscience, then that is God’s way.  We are to be Bereans and “test all things, and hold fast that which is good.”  The job of a minister is to serve his church to this end, but sadly many ministers are praised to the point where they begin to “believe the hype”, to believe that they are “as gods knowing good from evil”. They become the “Lords over the flock” (1 Peter 5:3) and the sole source of wisdom, the “fount of every blessing” when in reality the minister’s whole purpose is to take the hand of the new convert and put it into the hand of Christ, allowing the Holy Spirit room to finish the work.

Sadly, often because we mistrust the Holy Spirit, our lives can become an operation of ‘trimming leaves’, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to get to the root of the sin and take it away.  And worse still, we start doing that to others.  Generally neither the minister or the flock realise they have fallen into this until it is too late.

There is however a very a simple solution that God has put in place to protect both the minister and the flock from the overtaking of pride.  He enacted this with Martin Luther:

As men rejoice in the freedom which the truth brings them, they are inclined to extol those whom God has employed to break the chains of error and superstition. Satan seeks to divert men’s thoughts and affections from God, and to fix them upon human agencies; he leads them to honor the mere instrument and to ignore the Hand that directs all the events of providence. Too often religious leaders who are thus praised and reverenced lose sight of their dependence upon God and are led to trust in themselves. As a result they seek to control the minds and consciences of the people, who are disposed to look to them for guidance instead of looking to the word of God. The work of reform is often retarded because of this spirit indulged by its supporters. From this danger, God would guard the cause of the Reformation. He desired that work to receive, not the impress of man, but that of God. The eyes of men had been turned to Luther as the expounder of the truth; he was removed that all eyes might be directed to the eternal Author of truth. {GC 169.2}

I suggest that any church which is having issues needs to listen to the below sermon by David Westbrook.  It is mainly aimed at SDA ministers, however I believe all ministers and lay people can take away something from this.  I apologise if this comes across to some as a condemnation. My goal is not to condemn, but to remind us to recognise God’s love for us, and for us to listen and obey Him.  God does not expect us to simply obey arbitrary rules.  He gives us rules for our own benefit.  It is important for us to not condemn each other, but rather allow God to correct us by His word, so we can fulfil the prayer of Christ:
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).

323Dave Westbrook – What Every Church Should Know About Adventist Ministers:
Track 1Track 2

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