“Teach and pray. Love and stay.”
That’s a short summary of pastoral ministry from Mark Dever. Teach the people
God’s word. Pray down heaven on the people. Love the people. And, if possible,
stay with the people over the long haul.
Take just a moment and let that sink in. There is an abundance of wisdom in that simple approach to ministry. In fact, I would go so far as to say, every pastor ought to make this a priority in their own ministries. Let's consider these four essential elements and the enormity of such thinking.
Teach - I will admit, something within me caused me to pause and think about that one for just a moment. I was raised under the perception that a man hadn't preached unless he had ran the isles, sweated his shirt wet, and because of his tendency to "spit" while preaching, those who knew him would try not to sit on the front row. I was raised around that type of preaching, and have no problem with it, if that is the way the preacher is wired. However, it is beneficial to incorporate teaching into preaching. I have heard some say certain individuals were more of a "teacher" than they were a "preacher." That is referring to style, not content. Men we need to consistently, and passionately, feed our congregations a steady diet of the Word. Take the time to study out a passage, or better yet, a complete book of the Bible, and teach that to your people. They will thank you for it. We have not been called to preach current events, or the latest social trends. We have been called to preach the Bible.
Pray - This one seems to be a "no-brainer" but I fear we fail in regard to prayer many times. I know the Lord has dealt with my heart concerning this responsibility as of late. We must be committed to pray if we are to honor the Lord and see fruit among our people. We must be men of prayer, not just an hour or so before we preach, but every day. We need to pray for our people, their needs, our services, those who serve alongside us within the church, and for those who do not know Christ as their Savior. I am convinced the lack of power in our lives and services is directly related to our lack of prayer. Make prayer a priority!
Love - It is imperative that we love people if we are to be effective in ministry. I know that some are easier to love than others, but we have been commanded of our Lord to love others as we love ourselves. I heard that a preacher once said, "Ministry wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the people." Sadly, I fear many preachers have developed that mentality, even if they are unaware of it. We must love our people, regardless of where they are in the journey. We must love them in the good times and the bad, when they agree with us and when they don't. Pastor, love your people in such a way they will know you love them. How long has it been since you told your congregation you loved them? I don't do it as often as I should, but I do tell Fellowship I love them from time to time.
Stay - I realize there are no perfect churches because they are all made up of imperfect people. Every church has its problems. You may be in the midst of trouble right now, but I can assure you, there will be problems at any church you pastor. We must be sensitive to the leadership of the Lord. When He reveals our ministry is finished in a particular place, we must follow wherever He leads. However, we must not jump ship before the Lord is finished with us in a particular place. I know men who are enjoying the best years of their ministry right now, but they were forced to endure some difficulties along the way to get to where they are. We must be committed to staying where the Lord has placed us as long as it pleases Him! If you know you are where God called you to serve, serve faithfully until He releases your burden.
These were just a few things that I have been dealing with this week and I hope they have been a help and challenge to you in the ministry you are currently serving. Preach (teach) and pray. Love and stay!