“3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 (ESV)
Pastors spend time counseling, praying, training, visiting, planning, and more in the course of any given week. None of these are unimportant in the life of the church. As a matter of fact, I would argue that a pastor who isn’t concerned with these responsibilities is neglecting his duties. However, I have recently been reminded in my own ministry that the most important thing a pastor does is deliver what he has also received- the Gospel.
Over the last year, the way I lead and cast vision has moved away from meetings and personal conversations to the pulpit. What I mean is this, the most important thing I will say to anyone in our congregation is what I say when I am preaching. There is nothing more significant in the life of a church than the preached Word of God. So, how does this impact the way I lead?
1. If I can’t say it in a sermon, then I don’t need to say it.
Leading a church comes with many opportunities to give opinions and ideas. The longer I pastor, the more I am convicted about the difference between my thoughts and God’s revealed plan. When a pastor says, I believe this is what God wants us to do, it needs to be the fruit of faithful study and prayer. The ideas and direction for the church should be a point of application in a sermon from a faithful exposition of the text.
2. The parking lot is not where change takes place.
Too many times pastors say the most significant and transparent statements when only a few are listening. Often this occurs in the parking lot after the church has met. Other times it happens in the hallway after a meeting, or over lunch the next day. Parking lot conversations are usually designed to build support so that opposition doesn’t have a chance to form. Spend time in the parking lot following up on prayer requests, discipleship conversations, and talking about life.
3. The vision for the church should be Christ-exalting.
This is at the heart of Paul’s words to the church at Corinth. There are many agendas to cover and numerous relationships to build in ministry. But the only agenda that will last is the mission of God and the message of the Gospel. Your vision for the church should fit into your preaching because your vision for the church should come from the Word itself. When the church hears your vision for the future of the church in a sermon, they should be able to connect it back to the passage you are preaching, and ultimately back to the call of the Gospel to follow Christ.
The Gospel has been passed like a baton to you. Hold fast to the most important thing you have received– the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let it shape your prayer life, preaching, and planning as a pastor. Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to stay rooted in what he had passed on to them.
“58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)
Make your ministry count by staying focused on what is most important, don’t serve in vain by thinking there are more important issues and messages than the truth of Christ. Your church needs the Gospel, and the plans you present to them should be rooted in the Gospel, and the results of