However, my day continued on into the afternoon. I had three meetings that afternoon with people from the church. One meeting was with a new couple who attends the church and the Lord is working on their hearts in phenomenal ways. They are wanting to honor the Lord with their relationship and were asking for accountability. The second meeting was with a man in his fifties who for the first time in his life, the gospel is making sense to him. He wanted to know how to draw closer to the Lord and truly give his life to Christ. We talked about seeking the Lord fervently and with desperation. The third meeting I had was with a lady who had tremendous trials and tribulations in her life over the last few years. She was inquiring as to how she could walk through those things in faith and know that the Lord is with her. We had such a good time of searching the truths of Scriptures and seeing how God can turn trials into blessings. I left these three meetings feeling truly used by God to help people apply the gospel to their lives.
Why do I mention these meetings? What is the point I am aiming for in this post? The answer is this: I see the meetings that I had in the afternoon equally as important as the services that happened in the morning.
In the world of pastoral leadership and church discussions, one of the major questions asked and raised is whether the pastor can be hands on with the congregation he leads and the church still grow. In others words, can a church keep growing and reaching people if the pastor is still assessable to the congregants? Most involved in this conversation say "no." Most do not think that a pastor can remain involved in the meetings about salvation, premarital counseling, and other type meetings and the church still grow to reach a lot of people. I am not saying that this is a false assertion, but I do have my doubts and points of skepticism. Where does my skepticism come from?
One of the things I enjoy doing is reading. I read a lot of books. Most of the books I read are theology books and things concerning the Christian life. My favorite books are the one's that have been written by dead people. I love old books, particularly the Puritans, and those who are Puritan-influenced. One of the things that I have noticed when I read these old pastors is that they frequently visited with and met with their congregants. They met with them over all sorts of issues. They met with them despite how big their congregation was. Richard Baxter visited every one of his thousand plus congregants in a year's time. Ichabod Spencer had Sunday night inquiry meetings where people would flood his home and he would meet with and answer questions for hours. In addition to Sunday night inquiry meetings, he made weekly house calls to congregants and those seeking the way of salvation.
When I read things like, this and then I think about what popular wisdom and opinion in our church culture today has become, I question whether they were ignorant of the ways to really grow their church or whether we are ignorant of what it means to be pastors.
I desire to be available to the congregation I lead. I know that it cannot be completely dependent upon me and that there will be limitations to my availability to every person. However, I wrestle over the popular opinion that pastors have to limit their involvement with only a select few in order for the church to grow. I cannot escape the thought that as a pastor, I am called to walk with anxious souls concerning the way of salvation, and that goes beyond preaching to them on Sunday mornings.
These are just some things on my heart and mind right now. What are your thoughts on this? What do you make of the popular opinion today of the role of pastors? Do you believe the Puritan-model is more biblical? Do you believe there is a middle ground?
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