Throughout this week I am sharing a series of posts dealing with traits that are necessary for a Pastor to be effective in revitalizing an existing church. The first two traits that we looked at wer
Today, we want to explore the third trait:
An Unrivaled Confidence in the Word of God
From a doctrinal standpoint this means that the Pastor must be committed to the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the Scripture. In other words, he needs to be confident that the Bible is indeed the very Word of God and that it is the sole authority in matters of both faith and practice. For me this is one of the most fundamental issues that every Pastor must face and deal with at the outset of his ministry. Personally, I think that this is a commitment that you need to have regardless of what area of ministry you are involved in, but I can assure you that it is something you will face almost constantly in the work of church revitalization. Over the past twenty years of ministry I have rarely ran into rank and blatant theological liberalism in the church. But what I have run into over and over again are people who, while claiming to believe in the inspiration and inerrancy of the scripture, have systematically explained away or ignored sections that they have found offensive or uncomfortable. As a revitalizing Pastor you will need to have an unrivaled allegiance to the Bible if you are going resist the temptation to compromise in these situations and trust me the temptation will be much stronger than you might initially believe.
In addition to the doctrinal standpoint, there is also a practical reason why you need to have an unrivaled allegiance to the Bible — it is sufficient for all matters pertaining to faith and practice. To put it simply, the Bible contains everything we need for matters of doctrine and for the practical day-to-day ministry of the church. It is easy for us to see how this applies to doctrine but I am afraid that we often ignore the Bible when it comes to real ministry. What I mean is that we sometimes fall into the trap of giving more stock to what the latest ministry guru or successful Pastor who writes a book says than what the Bible says. If we really want to revitalize the church we need to make sure that every ministry and activity of the church is grounded deeply in the teaching of the Scripture. In other words, we need to pattern and base our ministry firmly in the Word of God. Not only is this a matter of theological importance but I would also like to suggest that it is the most practical guide for how the church needs to carry out the mission in our culture.
There is no doubt that America has undergone a significant cultural shift over the recent decades. While some have lamented this change, I would join the chorus of others who argue that this change may actually be good for the spread of the gospel. In reality, what we have seen in America is not the loss of Christianity but the loss of nominal or cultural Christianity. What we are now seeing is a growing postmodern culture that looks and thinks a great deal like the first century culture in which the gospel was initially planted. Without getting into specifics, America is more like first century Corinth or Thessalonica than most people in the church recognize.
This change in our culture has meant that many of the traditional ways that the church has grown are no longer working. Some would suggest that this new cultural landscape is foreign and that the church has to reinvent itself to survive. I would argue the opposite, this is not a new dilemma but rather a return to the very culture in which the church founds its greatest success. Far from being unprepared, God has given us a perfect manual for how to engage the very kind of culture that we are living in right now. We don’t need to reinvent the church — we need to REDISCOVER IT in the pages of our New Testaments. As a revitalizing Pastor it is your job to guide your people on this quest by taking them back to the Scripture and showing them how to live out its truth today.