Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Oversight of Souls

Of this church I was made a minister according
to the stewardship from God bestowed on me
for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out
the preaching of the word of God.
(And how does he fully carry out the preaching
of the word of God, that stewardship?)
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man
and teaching every man with all wisdom,
so that we may present every man complete
in Christ.  For this purpose also I labor,
striving according to His power, which
mightily works in me.
Colossians 1:25, 28-29

"If pastoral ministry is going to thrive in our churches we need to regain an understanding of the centrality of the oversight of souls.  In fact, I will argue that the heart of pastoral ministry is this attentive care of souls....The renewed emphasis on substantive preaching in many quarters is to be celebrated, but preaching is not the heart of pastoral ministry; rather, preaching is an outflow of oversight.  We do not guard souls in order to preach.  Rather we preach as one means of guarding souls.

Our central task is not managing good programs, drawing large crowds, or even delivering powerful messages ( to these I would add, even vision-casting).  Our central task is shepherding souls as they depart the City of Destruction and hazard their way toward the Celestial City.

It is so easy to forget this or to miss it altogether.  When we do, all else is skewed.  Ministry to masses can overshadow the needs of individuals, programs can replace people, and sermons can become lightweight pep talks or, even when soundly biblical, they can end up abstract lectures which fail to provide real guidance for people as they struggle with sin, self, and Satan."

Ray Van Neste
The Care for Souls:
Reconsidering Pastoral Ministry in Southern Baptists and Evangelical Contexts
Southern Baptists, Evangelicals, and the Future of Denominationalism
Pages 114-115

As preachers we can preach in order to pastor, or we can be a pastor in order to preach.  There is a substantive difference in the two, both in focus, and in outcome.  We must focus on preaching and teaching pastorally, with an outcome that is focused on the individual souls that God has put under our care.  The quality of our sermons will ultimately be manifested and measured by the completeness in Christ likeness of the souls under our charge.  So are we preaching to preach, or our we preaching to pastor?  A good question for us all.
All Italics Mine

1 comment:

reformedlawless said...

Amen. Thank you Pastor.