In the past few months a surprising number of ministers have succumb to suicide, have fallen away, or have expressed serious doubts about Christianity. It is imperative that the church come to realize that we, the congregants, must undergird the men and women who have been called, by God, to teach and train disciples. We can speculate about why these things are happening, but one thing is clear, we are at war.
This war is being fought daily by these ministers. They are the soldiers on the front lines, and many find themselves isolated and overwhelmed. This is often due to the rest of the Body of Christ not knowing their importance in teaming with them to advance the Gospel.
More often than not, the Body of Christ is either unaware, or willfully ignorant of this war. They don’t know or purposefully have forgotten, “Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Many in the Church think that it is not their responsibility to stand with their pastors or ministers against the wilds of Satan.
Pastors and ministers are the men and woman who are separate from the deacons, elders, or other congregants. Peter gives and interesting response to those who are insisting that the Apostles step up to aide in the distribution of resources, “Acts 6:2-4 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
This is often called the creation of the office of deacon. The passages clearly express that the office of deacon was created to attend to the needs of the church. They are to support the mission and vison of the pastor, so that they can focus on the preaching of the Gospel.
When the church fails to abide by the structure of the church, at its inception, an unholy amount of pressure is applied to the pastor or minister. This stress and strain leads to an unhealthy balance between the responsibility of the leadership and the disciple. Some may say that The Great Commission was only directed to the eleven; however, it only serves to strengthen the responsivity of the disciples office.
Matt 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The breakdown is simple, the eleven were told to go and make disciples. Peter’s assertion that they were to attend tables was true. Jesus appears to the disciples to instruct them as to what they are to do. This appearing was during the forty days he spent with them, before the assentation. As recorded in Acts 1:3 “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” Luke tells us that the initial giving of The Great Commission was to the eleven and then the eleven passed on the importance of disciples go and make disciples.
Those who were to follow are to be disciples of the Word and then, when these disciples grow in to “adulthood,” are to become deacons and then these men were to undergird the pastors and ministers so that the process can be repeated. Many deacons today seem to be more concerned with how to get out from aiding the pastor and are willing to pass as much of their responsibilities on to a “hired” man. An example of just how this imbalance affects the Body of Christ can be understood in an article by The Christian Post.
The Christian Post quotes Dale Partridge, a minister and friend of late California Pastor Jarrid Wilson, ““My post is simply a call for church reform according to Scripture. It’s my opinion and experience that today’s audience-centric churches will run pastors raw. Serve, labor, love, perform, and sacrifice until you can’t do it any longer. Over the years, I have heard many pastors (who are grossly underpaid) talk about their desperate need for a break yet have no financial way of achieving it. In other words, we have built an institutional church machine that doesn’t accommodate but actually compromises the health the Bible requires for New Testament pastors,” Partridge added.” (https://www.christianpost.com/news/people-struggling-with-mental-illness-shouldnt-be-in-church-leadership-jarrid-wilsons-friend-says.html)
Partridge’s comment is accurate, in the since that churches have become too “audience-centric.” The article; however, leaves out the responsibility of deacons and other laymen to undergird the men and women whose staff these churches. The Gospel never says for those called or chosen to be God’s voice, in all of the various iterations, to work alone.
Paul gives thanks to a plethora of churches who come to his aid. Paul in Rom 15:14-16 states, I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. But on some points, I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Paul is voicing his need for the church in Rome to asset him in carrying out, both his calling and the calling God has placed on all who believe.
“Buried in the midst of his collection of clauses in verses 15–16 is the essence of his reminder, more easily understood as summarized by Eugene Peterson in The Message: “I’m simply underlining how very much I need your help in carrying out this highly focused assignment God gave me, this priestly and gospel work of serving the spiritual needs of the non-Jewish outsiders so they can be presented as an acceptable offering to God, made whole and holy by God’s Holy Spirit” (Peterson, pp. 336–337). (Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 448.)
It is the simplest expression of the thought behind Paul’s meaning. This paraphrase of the passage does clarify the thought. Paul is saying, “I need your help.”
Being a pastors or ministers of the Gospel is difficult. This difficulty is compounded by a lack of understanding of the role each part of the Body of Christ is to play. Deacons are to undergird, or aid, church leaders in administering to the needs of the congregation, which allows for the pastors to preach the word. A congregant is to do the work of a disciple until God calls them in to ministry or to the other side of the veil.
Note: All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the ESV bible.