Over the past twenty years I have had the opportunity to work with a variety of young men who are going into the ministry. Basically, I would place categorize these young men into one of two broad categories — planters and revitalizers. What I mean by this is that some of them have been gifted and called to plant new churches while the others are called and gifted to be involved in revitalizing older, existing churches. Both of these kind of Pastors are needed in the Kingdom and over the next week I would like to focus on some of the traits that go into making a successful revitalizing Pastor. The first of these is:
An Unwavering commitment to the gospel:
In Romans 1:16 the Apostle Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” As a revitalizing Pastor, you will quickly discover that Satan and the world will conspire against you to rob you of your trust in the sufficiency of gospel. By offering us a wide array of distractions and alternatives, Satan relentlessly tries to separate us from the one thing that he fears the most — the gospel. By doing so, he is able to keep us from the unleashing the power of God upon our congregations.
Most of the young pastors that I have known start out with a strong commitment to the gospel and begin their ministry with strong and clear preaching. But at some point in every revitalization process there will arise opposition from within the congregation and most of the time it will have something to do with the preaching. There will be people within the congregation who complain about the preaching and others will point to preachers in television or in the area who are more successful. Often these other preachers will have already compromised the gospel and given into a more pragmatic and human centered form of preaching. The problem, of course, is that many times those who have compromised will have a great deal of numerical success and, therefore, it is very easy in these situations for a young Pastor to fall into the temptation of compromising the message for the sake of church growth. But this is always a mistake.
Healthy churches are built upon a robust preaching and teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to focus our primary attention not on metrics but on our faithfulness to the gospel. The bottom line is that we can build the largest church in our town or in America for that matter but if we are not faithful to the gospel we have nothing. Therefore, the first and more important trait of a revitalizing Pastor is an unwavering commitment to the gospel. This means that not only being committed to the truth of the message of the gospel but also to its sufficiency. What I mean is that we understand that the gospel is sufficient to accomplish God’s purpose and plan within the life of our congregation. Therefore, our primary purpose as Pastors is to preach, teach and live the gospel in front of our congregations and to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to its message throughout every area of our ministry.