Covenant Keepers

Do we really take the covenants in
our lives seriously?

I’m wondering, in this modern age, do we really take the covenants in
our lives seriously? The first question this statement might generate is, “What covenants?” I can think of four: The New Covenant, The Marriage Covenant, The Parent/Child Covenant and the Church Membership Covenant. The second question might be, “what is Covenant?” A covenant is an agreement between two parties, but it’s much more than a contract.
The covenants I have listed are divine in nature. They are agreement
made before God; and thus they are sacred and not to be taken lightly. 
The most important of all the covenants is the New Covenant.
This is the unilateral agreement from God to us that He has provided a
way for us as sinners to be completely forgiven.
That is the way of grace by faith. This, of course, is the new birth, the very act of salvation. What is our part then in this covenant? Is it not the glory of God?
When we understand predestination, that God in His divine omnipotence has redeemed us for His own purpose, we realize that this purpose is in
fact His glory. We agree with God that we are sinners in need of a Savior.
That Savior is Jesus, who came to seek and save the lost.
Those who are indeed redeemed by grace are sanctified or set apart
to a holy use, God’s glory. I think sometimes we forget that.
Salvation becomes all about us and a free ride to heaven.
In reality, the point of the covenant is that we as the people of God
might live by the power of God to the glory of God. We need keep this
truth ever before us.
The next covenant most of us have entered into is the Marriage Covenant. This covenant is a man and a woman coming together before God and
human witnesses, pledging to “Love, Honor and Cherish until death do us part.” When a man and a woman are united in marriage, it’s not about the ceremony, it’s about the covenant. A sacred agreement. When we understand this, we realize that it’s not just about staying married; it’s about
what it is to “be” married. That means dying to self to live for another.
It’s not easy. It’s something we have to work at and take seriously or it
decays. Marriage cannot stand on love alone. It must be a three-legged
stool, love, honor and cherishing one another. We so easily walk away for our marriage covenant in our culture. The world absolutely doesn’t get it; but God’s people should. This is a life time endeavor. It’s not about our
happiness or contentment; it’s about the covenant, and the glory of God.
If we get the New Covenant right, it’s much easier to get the Marriage
Covenant right. If our relationship with God isn’t right, then most likely
our human relationships won’t be either; but when we get the Marriage
Covenant right, then we will get our third covenant right as well, that is
the Parent/Child covenant. 
Most Christians make a public declaration before the church of pledging
themselves to raise their children in a God fearing home and with godly
principles. This should not just be a ritual, it should be an act we take
very seriously. At our church, we call this our Parent/Child dedication
service. Within that service, actual vows are made. 
  1. Do you desire to publicly dedicate your child to the Lord, to be His special possession and to be used for His Glory?
  2. Do you covenant before God to teach your child the Holy Scriptures and to seek to lead your child to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
  3. Do you dedicate yourselves in praying for divine guidance in raising this young one
  4. Do you dedicate yourselves to set an example to live by and look up to, the example of godly parents?
  5. Do you by these promises dedicate this child to God?
I hope we take these vows seriously. The spiritual life of parents deeply
affects their children. Parents together pledge themselves to model Jesus
for their children. That means that they have to get discipleship right.
That means taking up their cross daily to follow Jesus. There is no room
for selfishness here. We commit ourselves to something much bigger than ourselves that will indeed live beyond our lifetimes. 
The fourth covenant encompasses all the rest in that it holds us
accountable for our part in the covenants we have entered into. The fourth is the Membership Covenant. It’s more than just joining the church, it’s
identifying with a body of believers and being willing to be transparent
and accountable about our conduct in our Christian lives, our marriages
and our parenting. I hope we take this seriously. Too often, we just think
that church membership is about voting on stuff.
Certainly, it is important in making congregational decisions, but that’s
not its purpose. The purpose of membership is identification with a body and a level of accountability. So when members begin to live outside the
bounds of their covenant, then the elders need to reach out and seek to
reconcile the situation. In violating their membership covenant, they
were also violating all their other covenants as well. You see, they are all
interconnected! If we don’t take our membership seriously, we really
aren’t taking Christ seriously.
So dear Christians, it really is good for us examine to our lives, our commitment to Christ, and our commitment to the covenants we have pledged
ourselves to; because in the end, it’s all for the glory of God. 

Bumps in the Road

A study on facing obstacles in the Body of Christ

We need to recognize that every church will face obstacles to ministry, discipleship and fellowship.  It is essential to the unity of the body that we respond to these obstacles correctly.We need to be sure that we view them as speed bumps and not road blocks!

The purpose of Speed Bumps:  Slow us down and make us focus on what’s going on. 

As we examine the book of Acts, we see the founding of the church and its early development.  We tend to think of the early church as perfect and that its only problem was persecution, but the early church faced some real internal challenges as well.  Let’s examine how they handled these bumps in the road.  (All Scripture quoted here is from the New King James version)

Speed Bump#1, Fleshly Pretenders

Context: Acts chapter 2, The Day of Pentecost. Note 1-6. We see the gift of tongues, a sign gift to the Jews (This will be very important later when the gentiles begin to believe as we shall see).  This is followed up by Peter’s fabulous sermon, vs.14-47. 

Vs. 36 is the focal point.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Result: Vs. 41-42Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

This is the birth of the wonderful new entity, the Church!  We see this fabulous fellowship where everyone is excited about what God is doing.  Note vs. 44-47. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

The Church is “truckin” along joyously; however, the Apostles begin to face some hassles from the religious leaders in Jerusalem. 

5:1-2, But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

We wonder why would they do this?  The only answer can be that they were given to the flesh rather than the Spirit.  They were more worried about what people thought than what God thought, so they lied, and God took their lives in response!  This is the first act of church discipline by the divine hand of God! This tells us that God takes the church and our attitude toward it seriously.   Note the atmosphere in vs. 11, So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

Question: Suppose this happened in your church. What would the reaction be?  Certainly, it would be sobering.  The upside of this was that the church was purified This was very important at this stage of development.  There just could not be any fleshly pretenders. 

Result: Vs. 12-14. And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

Verse 13 suggests that some stayed away, and yet the Lord added multitudes to their fellowship!  So we see a blessing on the other side of the bump!  True believer came in as pretenders went out!  We find then a pure church in the sense of sold out believers. 

Speed Bump #2, Division/Strife

Context:  The Apostles are still getting worked over, 5:40-42.When they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

6:1, Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.

People felt they were getting left out; their needs not being met; and the church was unfair and played favorites.  (Possibly, they felt their leaders weren’t listening or didn’t care.Whether it was true or not doesn’t matter, it was their perception. 

Question:  What are some of the ways the leadership could respond? 

(1) Do nothing

(2) Try to do it all themselves

(3) Put more people into ministry

We see in vs.2-6, that they wisely put more people in ministry.  So the speed bump became an opportunity to do something great!  Now there is a bigger body concept. 

Result:  Vs. 7, Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump!  We love the fact that many of the priests believed! 

Speed Bump #3, Persecution

Context:  Stephen is killed!  Acts 7:54-60

8:1-3, Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

Now, it’s not just the leaders that are being persecuted for their faith; it’s everyone and Saul is the ring leader!

Question:  What would happen in America if our own government began to persecute Christians? Our emphasis would change from buildings to discipleship! 

Result:  8:4, Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.

They were run out of town. With the scattering went the Gospel.  Instead of being focused in one place, God used persecution to move them out! 

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump! God used this situation to further His kingdom and for His glory!

Speed Bump #4, Fear

Context:  In Acts 8-9, we see Philip going out as a great evangelist, and the conversion of Saul the great persecutor. 

9:26, And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple.

The church just could not bring itself to welcome Saul with open arms.  They are terrified of this man. 

Question: Was the fear legitimate?  Yes.  This man had the authority to make their lives miserable; and while we might expect that we would react differently, I seriously doubt it. 

What overcomes fear?  1 John 4:18 Love for Christ.

9:27, God had a man willing to step up and lead through the fear. 

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus

Result: Vs.31, Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified.

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump!  They had peace and were edified. 

Speed Bump#5, Change

Context:  Acts 10 Peter’s vision & the gentiles being saved. Note 10:34-36, Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all.

11:1-3, Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

With the Gentiles coming in, the church dynamic now totally changes!  There are 1,000s of years of culture to overcome here.  It seems impossible.  Yet see God’s plan. In Acts 11:16-18, “Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

We learn here that the gift of tongues would be the bridge between Jew and Gentile.  God poured this supernatural gift out upon the gentiles as well as the Jews proving they were equally saved by grace. 

Result: 19-21, Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump!  The Gentiles come in at exactly the right time.  Isn’t God good!  So the Church at Antioch begins and becomes the model for the rest of the Christendom.  Note 22-24, Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord.

Also note 25-26! Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

Question:  What if they had dug in their heels instead of stepping out of the flesh and yielding to the Spirit on this issue. There would have been two totally separate churches, Jewish and Gentile.  This would have been tragic.  The early church needed both the Jews and the Gentiles to make it what it was to become. I’ve always felt the greatest miracle in Acts was that the Jews and the Gentiles could come together and function as one body.  (See Ephesians 2:14-22)

Speed Bump #6, False Doctrine

Context: Acts 13:1-5, Missions officially begins.  In Acts 14:21-23, we see some structure with appointing of elders in these new churches.  

When Paul and Barnabas retuned to Antioch they gave a report.  Acts 14:27, Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.

What a great praise report about what God is doing!

Acts 15:1-2, And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Now the church is facing a severe test; false doctrine is coming in.  If this doctrine was accepted, it would make salvation based on faith in Christ and circumcision.  Any time we add anything to the finished work of Christ to atone for sin, we eliminate Christ!  The doctrine of salvation is based in Christ alone, by grace alone through faith alone.  We add nothing. 

Question:  What happens when someone comes into your fellowship and seeks to teach a different doctrinal position then the church holds?  Does doctrine really matter?  Yes!  For the body to have unity there must by necessity be a unity of fundamental doctrine.  Any doctrine that diminishes the work of Christ is a false doctrine and must be rejected.  Any doctrine that causes division must be dealt with. 

Results: The Council at Jerusalem.  Acts 15:6-29.  They concluded that both Jews and Gentiles are saved by grace alone!  15:8-11, So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.

The result of that: Vs. 30-31, So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump!    There was unity by taking a stand for sound doctrine.

Speed Bump #7, Contention

Context:  Paul & Barnabas return to the churches. Acts 15:36, Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.”

Speed bump #7, Contention

15:37-39,  Now Barnabas was determined to take with them John called Mark. But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work. Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus.

We can’t get around the fact that this was indeed a personality conflict, and there was contention between these two brothers; However, I’m not sure they departed contentiously.

Note the end of verse 40. The brethren recommended.  I wonder if the leadership at Antioch didn’t help them work through this problem.  Any way you look at it, they went their separate ways. 

Question:  How do we resolve conflict?  We must set aside the flesh and examine our convictions. Are they of the Spirit? We may need the brethren to help with an outside voice.  Our desire should be peace, not war, note Ephesians 4:1-3. 

Result:  Two teams of missionaries head out.  Barnabas and John Mark, Paul and Timothy.  

Acts 16:5, So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

So we see blessing on the other side of the bump! 


What do we learn from all of this?  Speed bumps aren’t bad; they just are.  They aren’t road blocks.  We need to take the godly model to heart and keep going on.  Rather than despair when we come to obstacles, we need to ask, “What is God doing and how can we best serve Him?” 

There is always a blessing on the other side IF we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh.  The flesh becomes the Road Block, not the situation. 

Do we really shoot our wounded?

The church is messy. Always has been, always will be!

“Why does the church shoot its wounded?” is an often-repeated refrain.  It is my contention that the very premise of this question is a lie from the pit of hell.  Jesus, when speaking of Satan, said, “when he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” This is a lie he loves to have repeated.  Yes, I will admit that some churches sometimes react badly and innocent people are hurt, but that is the exception not the norm.  The churches I’ve pastored and been involved with have been caring and careful with the flock.  If you repeat a lie often enough, eventually it’s accepted as truth; and I believe that to be the case with this lie.  So where does this idea that the church shoots its wounded come from? 

It is my contention that most of the ecclesiastical wounded are in fact the result of self-inflicted wounds!  It is the mandate of the church to call God’s people to holiness.  The people of God respond and desire to be more like Jesus. Yes, we fail along the way, but the church doesn’t require perfection.  No one is thrown out for failing to measure up.  If that were the case, the church wouldn’t exist.  It’s been said and I agree, “The church is not a rest home for saints, it’s a hospital for sinners!”  There is always the ebb and flow of victory and failure.  The church takes the fallen saint and seeks to minister to them and lift them out of the muck and mire to once again join in the journey of glorifying Jesus.  The church is messy.  Always has been, always will be!

Where the problem comes is when members of a body continue to shoot themselves in the foot and then resist the medical care offered by the church leadership.  Every church I have been a shepherd of has a church covenant for membership.  That covenant usually requires that the members are in fact willing to put themselves under the authority of the elders of the body. They agree to be held accountable for their actions.  This is as it should be!  We are accountable one to another.  We are there not to judge each other; that’s God’s domain.  We are there to address sin in the lives of believers and to hold one another accountable for bad behavior.  Inevitably, the people who accuse the church of shooting their wounded have often shot themselves in the foot and refuse aid. 

When someone or a couple are struggling with sin in their life and it comes to the attention of the elders of a body, those elders are obligated to reach out and seek to help the sinner be reconciled to God.  When the sinner refuses help, won’t follow Biblical advice, or even refuses to meet with the elders they are in covenant with, what then must happen?  Usually, that means some form of church discipline. 

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about the situation there where one of their members was having an intimate relationship with his father’s wife.  The church seemed to be affirming the sin rather than seeking to reconcile the sinner.  Here, ultimately, was Paul’s exhortation to them. 

1 Corinthians 5:9-13, I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

He also wrote “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 5:5)

And the same wording is used when he writes to Timothy, “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

1 Timothy 1:19-20

Where there is an unremorseful and unrepentant member of the body, who refuse Godly counsel, the only chose is expulsion.  In our culture, that sounds harsh but it’s certainly Biblical.  The point of excusing someone from the flock is so that they might yet repent and then be reconciled to God and ultimately the body they were a part of.  Inevitability, the one ejected from the body for their own good becomes the wounded that has been shot.  Had they accepted the counsel offered and there was true repentance and reconciliation, they would have remained in the body and healed to the glory of God.  Because they refused to acknowledge their sin, they were put out.  The unrepentant sinner then becomes the victim of an overbearing church, at least in the eyes of those who don’t know or want to know the real truth of the matter or the teaching of Scripture. 

The illustration in the church at Corinth dealt with immorality, but sometimes it is someone who is teaching unsound doctrine or is divisive, or just plain arrogant and unruly.  Inevitability, the leadership will have to deal with these issues; and if the offender will not yield, they will ultimately have to part ways.  Usually, people who are in disagreement with their own leadership leave on their own accord, but the leaders or the church still get blamed. 

The point of any church discipline is ultimately to reconcile the rebellious to God.  It’s not to punish people because they displease us. 

When a church releases individuals from their membership covenant because they will not receive Biblical counsel from the elders, it isn’t fun.  It hurts.  It is hard on those who have to make such decision and I am sure those who are expelled feel slighted and hurt and think the church has kicked them when they were down. In reality they aren’t being honest with themselves. They have refused to yield to the covenant they had previously agreed to. They can run from their problems and they can run from their church to another, but they can’t run from themselves, nor ultimately from God.  While Satan will use their situation for his own ends and the cry that the church shoots their wounded will continue, God knows the heart and judgment is in His hands. 

It is interesting to me that in Romans chapter one we see a culture that will not turn from their evil.  In fact, the last verse states, who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.  So God’s response is to give them up.  For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. 

God turned away from these people and let them go their own way.  Now I recognize that these are unregenerate people, however, in the context it’s about a culture that knew the truth, rebelling against it.  God then gave them up to their own devices.  We wouldn’t accuse God of shooting His wounded here would we?  And yet we are so quick to condemn His church and its leadership for basically doing the same thing.  I think that’s because we think the church should never do anything that would somehow hurt someone feelings or self-esteem.  The problem with calling people to holiness is that it does both of these things!  Holiness is about dying to self to live for Jesus.

So the next time you hear that so popular cliché “The church shoots it’s wounded” don’t buy the lie.  There is often a lot more to the story. Please remember that Satan wants to diminish the church in every way possible. 

Career or calling?

Make no mistake! If you are a shepherd of God’s people, this is not your career.

One of the great misconceptions of American Christianity is that the pastorate is a job and pastors are employed by the church.  This is not how Jesus set up the church.  In fact, just the opposite. Those who lead must serve. 

Let’s consider John 10:11-13: I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.

Jesus makes a clear distinction between one who is simply a hired man and one who is actually the shepherd of the sheep.  Now to be clear, He is obviously comparing Himself with the religious leaders of Israel, who were serving their own agenda rather than bringing their nation to God.  However, the principle helps us.  The shepherd cares for the sheep because he loves them, not because he is being paid.  If we are the under shepherds of God’s flock, then we must love the flock as Jesus did.  It’s not about a job or a career or employment.  It’s all about the calling and gifting of God, and the love of God’s flock!

The American mindset that the pastorate is a career has greatly harmed the church.  It has allowed those who are not called or gifted, but simply have a college degree in theology, to become shepherds of God’s church.  That means that there are those who are leading the flock who may not be appointed or approved by God.  They are elevated to this position by men.  Often, this leads to flock drift because the leader was never really designed by God to shepherd the church. 

Certainly, the church is instructed to monetarily support those who shepherd. 

1 Corinthians 9:14, Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel. 

Galatians 6:6, Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.

There is a distinction between support and employment.  Support is what the church does so the pastor or pastoral staff can function full time in ministry without the burden of an outside job. Employment is when you are hired to do a job.  While it may all look the same, it’s not!  Employment suggests that the pastor is the hired hand, the guy who works for the church.  Support, on the other hand, is the church acknowledging that this man (or pastoral staff) is called of God; and they are willing to give to that ministry so that the Word of God can go forth and the shepherd can lead without encumbrances.

What confuses us is the government wanting churches to issue W2 forms to their pastors rather than 1099.  In my opinion, the pastor is a 1099 guy all the way.  He fits the definition of an independent contractor because he sets his own hours and has his own tools.  I loved it when we just got a 1099 instead of a W2; but alas, that isn’t what the system seems to be able to understand so we complied.  But that doesn’t mean the church should view their pastor as an employee.  When they do, they miss the point of who and what a shepherd is. 

The pastorate is all about the calling and gifting of God.  Now, I’m not minimizing the need for a high-quality Biblical education.  It is a must.  But a diploma or a degree does not a pastor make.  It is the God who calls us to know Him who likewise calls us to shepherd the flock and with the calling comes the gifting.

Ephesians 4:11-12, And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Note the wording, “He himself gave.”  He is the supplier for the needs of the body.

When we look at Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3, we see the characteristics God requires the church to evaluate before they affirm someone as a shepherd of God’s church. 

It’s all about our mindset and the mindset of the local church.  It’s not about “working for the church” nor is it about “working for God.”  It’s all about God working through us for His glory and the edification of the body.