Pastor: Replicate Thyself

Every Thursday morning we highlight the work of the Spurgeon Center. A key component of the Center’s mission works through the EQUIP initiative, which seeks to link up SEBTS students with local churches for the purpose of field-based theological education. Steven Wade, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology, directs the EQUIP center. In this post, he writes about the need for pastors to replicate themselves in order to fulfill the Great Commission. 

I grew up in a church known for its inordinate numbers of “preacher boys”—men surrendering to the call of God to be pastors—as well as other men and women committing theirs lives to full-time ministry. It seemed that God called more men and women to the ministry in our church than any other church I knew of. Why was this? Was there something special about this church? Was there something unique about our pastor? As I have pondered these questions throughout my ministry I have come to understand that my home church and her shepherd (or more correctly her under-shepherd) had some characteristics that resulted in more men and women realizing God’s call and surrendering their lives to full-time ministry. While this list is by no means comprehensive, I believe it can be a starting point for a local church to see more and more believers give themselves to vocational ministry.

  • Take the Great Commission seriously

It may seem a bit elementary to start with the Great Commission but it has unfortunately been proven too often that churches have the ability to lose focus and exist for purposes other than what God intended. If God is to raise up leaders for His church from a local congregation, that congregation must be centered on fulfilling the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ! Believers are commanded to be disciple-making disciples and without accomplishing this mission, it is unlikely that very many will surrender to full-time ministry.

  • Expect that God is calling people in your congregation to devote themselves to full-time ministry

One thing I recognized in the preaching and discipleship of my pastor (and mentor) was a constant expectation that God was calling men and women to ministry. It was often part of his plea during invitations to respond to a sermon as well as part of his everyday conversations with people in the church. I believe one of the reasons churches do not see more people respond to a call to fulltime ministry is that churches do not really expect God to call people from their congregations.

  • Commit time each week to replicating yourself no matter what your ministry position in the church

One of the greatest memories as well as the greatest influences in my teenage life was the time that my pastor committed to spending with those called to ministry. He taught us how to read the Bible, how to preach, how to give invitations, how to share the gospel, how to lead a worship service, etc. The time that I spent with him teaching me how to be a shepherd was invaluable! It seems that pastors often admonish and encourage people in their congregations to replicate themselves. We tell people “work yourself out of a job” or “always be training someone to do the ministry you are doing.” However, too often pastors do not take the time to replicate themselves in this way. Both churches and pastors must see the importance of the pastor taking time to replicate himself in order for the church to grow and the ministry to be multiplied.

  • Articulate clear expectations and pathways to every ministry including the pastorate

At our church we have made a commitment to articulate clear steps that we expect people to take to move from “guest to elder.” We often ask of our congregation, “Where are you on the discipleship road?” and “What are the next steps for you to move further down that road?” It is helpful to give people clear expectations of growth and then show them precise practical steps to take to make the next step in their discipleship. When this is done with precision and care, the Holy Spirit has practical tools to use to help people know how to grow and respond to his calling, whatever it might be!

  • Develop a vision of multiple churches and ministries that are started, supported and influenced by your church

One of the hindrances to churches nurturing the development of pastors is the unfortunate mindset, “Well, we have a pastor. Why would we want another?” This mindset takes many forms and reveals a church with a small vision to accomplish the Great Commission. A church with a vision for the expansion of the Kingdom of God will recognize the need for more and more leaders in God’s church. Just as disciples must replicate themselves, churches must replicate themselves. I praise God for the move toward church planting in our convention and the need it has revealed for us to raise up new leaders. A church that has a kingdom vision will see a need for leaders in their own church as the ministry grows and expands, but will also see a need for people surrendered to fulltime ministry to be sent as missionaries overseas, as pastors in new church plants, and commissioned to other churches in need of ministers.

What other characteristics do you see as necessary for churches and pastors to develop in order to see more and more men and women called to fulltime ministry in the local church?

EQUIP: Nathan Akin on the Apostle Paul and Search Committees

What if the Apostle Paul were on a Search Committee?

Have you ever wondered if the Apostle Paul were on a search committee what kind of questions he would ask the pastoral candidate? I wonder if they would be like the questions most search committees ask today?

Questions such as:

  • What is the attendance at your current church?
  • What is the membership at your current church?
  • How many did you baptize this year?
  • What is the budget?
  • What degrees do you have?
  • Are you a Calvinist?
  • Are you pre-tribulational in your eschatology?

I think even the process of most pastoral search committee’s can be debated, but I think it is worth considering what the man who kept Timothy in Ephesus for the work of shepherding that flock and sent Titus to Crete would ask a potential pastoral candidate. It is possible that many search committees and churches place too high a focus on aspects of ministry that the apostle would not, “budgets and butts in the seats” as some would say. Now, Paul did give his young protégé one clear exhortation when it came to pastoral ministry. He wrote him in 2 Timothy 2:1-2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Is it possible that a primary question the apostle would ask would be, “how do you plan on multiplying yourself?” I think we have more evidence in the scriptures that he would ask that question as well as questions about how you will guard the good deposit as we do about “budgets and butts in the seats.”

I believe churches need to value more highly the importance of the pastor reproducing himself. And I believe pastors need to consider how they will intentionally take on 2 Timothy 2:2 in their church and how they will intentionally build it into their schedule so that it does not get eclipsed by other things.

At Southeastern Seminary we have developed a program called EQUIP that will help pastors develop such a ministry in their churches and give Seminary-level credit for work done through that ministry. We would love to serve pastors and churches as they consider developing a 2 Timothy 2:2 ministry in their church and we would love to come alongside those that already have a ministry like this and see how we can partner to give theological credit. If you are interested in finding out more please contact us – Equip@sebts.eduonline games for boys

John Ewart on God’s Servants in Zambia

I have the privilege of writing this just before Christmas from the campus of the Baptist Theological Seminary of Zambia in Lusaka. I am here teaching courses to a cohort of leaders from around their convention and churches. These men are pastor/teachers who seek to develop other leaders as well. They are a sharp and godly group! They humble me.

No matter where I go and how often I have the opportunity to be a part of the incredible team at Southeastern that helps train leaders in the international church just like these men, I am always struck by how universal and cross cultural the needs of discipleship and leadership development truly are. God has created His church and maintained ownership of it from the beginning. We, as mere stewards and servants, are asked to help guide and lead His people under His command. The task is great but the resources He provides are even greater. They are supra-cultural. They transcend culture.

I recognize and am teaching this week about the reality of contextualization and its great importance. I understand and will expound upon the fact that our specific methods and approaches to church life, missions and discipleship are greatly affected and often specifically defined by context and culture. First Corinthians 9:19-23 shows we must be willing to adapt and be sensitive. But underneath that willingness lays a firm foundation we must always acknowledge that is never changing and wholly dependent upon God.

I have been learning from my students here once again about the power of the Holy Spirit and prayer. I am being schooled on what concepts like total dependency upon God and amazing faith in the Word look like in real world practice. I am being blessed by testimonies of victory and triumph over darkness. It is good as the teacher to also be the student. I appreciate the early Christmas present I am receiving by being here.

As we seek to train trainers in our local churches, our schools and for the nations, I pray we will study well the lessons learned from others. It is good to learn from those who went before us and succeeded at impacting others. The principles we can find in books and conferences or even a blog like this are often valuable, challenging and encouraging. They also give us something to footnote!

Ultimately, however, may we never forget the primacy of Scripture and the Holy Spirit in the fulfillment of the Great Commission to make disciples and leaders. To remember that our relationship with others must be squarely based upon our relationship with our Father as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 22:34-40. To never forget that no matter what role we play in the process, God, in the end, is the One who causes the growth to occur as Paul writes in I Corinthians 3:5-7.

I have already finished teaching these leaders in a course on evangelism. Now I must expand the discussion to missions. I pray I can teach them well; teach them something of value. But if I were to be honest, selfishly, I am really praying they will teach me more as well over the next few days. Good leaders must never stop being good learners. I will be looking for that next early Christmas present as I meet with these dear brothers!rpg mobile game