I completely agree with Rick Wood in his statement regarding preachers. “Pastors should not be largely ‘preachers of sermons’ but equippers of willing believers. Pastors should not just teach people what to believe but facilitate the discovery of truth by each member.” (Mission Frontiers, Jan-Feb 2017, page 5).
This statement follows very closely Paul’s model. As we have seen already, Paul and Barnabas went from place to place preaching in synagogues or wherever they could get an audience and “make many disciples” (Acts 14:21). This point may seem redundant in my blogs, but I observe that there is a stark contrast between this model in the Early Church and the general emphasis today. As I have said before, one of the problems the church today suffers from is the effects of industrialization. From that era we learned to specialize in only one function which narrowed our ability to see how all tasks are interdependent. Most of our Bible Colleges and Seminaries have followed this pattern by offering degrees in a specialized field of ministry. This strays from Paul’s model of “declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
It is true that Acts 6 delegates certain tasks in the church to “deacons” so apostles (messengers of the gospel) can focus on the primary function of preaching and making disciples (6:1-7). This kind of diversity of gifts in the body of Christ promotes both internal growth and maturity while the spreading of the gospel continues. The principles we see in chapter 14 are that “preaching” draws persons through salvation into the church so they can be mentored or “discipled” so they can repeat the process with others.
We need to challenge ourselves, our pastors and our churches to implement this biblical, twofold approach to reach the unreached with the gospel. The task cannot be accomplished by simple preaching or giving congregations ‘biblical information’. Discipling under the direction of the Holy Spirit produces transformation, obedience and submission to the divine plan. There is a “maturity” component to this process which we will discuss tomorrow.
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