By Wes Mason
Now when they saw the boldness and unfettered eloquence of Peter and John and perceived that they were unlearned and untrained in the schools [common men with no educational advantages], they marveled; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. ~ Acts 4:13 (AMP)
In today’s church world, we put WAYYYYY to much pressure on the professional clergy in our midst. We want to hire such an individual to take care of the day to day business of the church. To be on call 24/7, and meet everyone’s needs, but far too often we ignore their needs.
I praise God for the many faithful, well educated men and women in full time employment in our various congregations. Yet this is not how the early church operated.
The early 1st century church had no buildings, no Sunday school classes, no vacation bible schools, no church associations or organizations, and yet when the first sermon was preached by Simon Peter after the events of Pentecost, 3000 souls were added to the fledging church in one day! One day!! Can you imagine such an event in your church? The logistics alone would overwhelm all but the very largest mega-churches. We should all have such problems!
The job of sharing the Gospel, in word and by deed, belongs to everyone in the body of Christ. I say the body and not the organized church because not everyone who sits in a pew belongs to Jesus. Sad but far too true.
The responsibility of the pastor/elder/bishop is to shepherd the flock of his congregation. To oversee the winning of souls and preaching and teaching the word of God. Here is his or hers divine purpose:
“And His gifts were [varied; He Himself appointed and gave men to us] some to be apostles (special messengers), some prophets (inspired preachers and expounders), some evangelists (preachers of the Gospel, traveling missionaries), some pastors (shepherds of His flock) and teachers. His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), [that they should do] the work of ministering toward building up Christ’s body (the church)” ~ Ephesians 4:11-12 (AMP)
The job of the Shepherd is to help the sheep grow into maturity that THEY may do the work of the ministry!
The leadership in the early church were ordinary men and women, without professional education in the ministry. They were filled with the spirit of Christ and from the relationship that they had with the risen savior, they turned the Roman world upside down.
We can do the same today if we will only make ourselves available to be used of God. We must step up saints!!
An article on the web site, Into Thy Word, indicates that up to 70% of pastors are stressed, burned out, and have considered leaving the ministry. Here are other scary statistics from the same site”
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages will end in divorce.
- Eighty percent of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.
Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
Almost forty percent polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
- Seventy percent said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons (This is Key).
Most statistics say that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career. Many pastors, I believe over 90 percent, start off right, with a true call and the enthusiasm and the endurance of faith to make it, but something happens to derail their train of passion and love for the call.
The body of Christ MUST not put such pressure on our leaders. WE…MUST rise up and team up with our shepherds to share the good news of Jesus Christ to a world broken, lost and dying in the grip of sin. As the ordinary men and women of the 1st generations of Christians impacted their world for Jesus, he will enable each of us to do the same in our appointed time on earth by the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.
May he find us faithful!
Wes Mason is a native of Richmond VA. He served in the USAF after graduating in 1974 and lived in NM, TX, MA and the UK. While in TX, he recognized God’s calling on his life and was ordained in a small Pentecostal Church in 1984. He moved to Boston to finish college, and while there, was involved in campus ministries as a student leader and a prison ministry volunteer. After college Wes moved back to Richmond in 87, very quickly was asked to be part of the Good news Jail and Prison Ministry at Henrico County Jail west. Currently Wes provides pulpit supply for 11 local Baptist churches. He’s married to my wife Cindy, a school teacher since 88, and has 2 great sons. Wes is a member of Hunton Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Va. Wes plays the 5 string banjo and guitar for a hobby. You can connect with Wes via email: firstname.lastname@example.org