Pastors

PRAY FOR US THIS WEEK

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This week is one of the highlights of our year!  We will be attending the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s Conference for the ninth time.

The preaching and worship are always outstanding! Our souls are fed, encouraged, and challenged. We have made many dear friends over the years, so the conference feels like a festive reunion! We also look forward to making new friends.

This year the conference will be especially joyful since it is our first time attending as a member church of Sovereign Grace. Sovereign Grace is not just an association or denomination, we are truly a Family of churches! We come together to build each other up in the service of our Lord Jesus and his gospel.

Among the speakers we are eager to hear: H.B. Charles, C.J. Mahaney and Jeff Purswell.

Please pray for this time we will share with pastors and wives from our sister-churches. Ask God to refresh and strengthen each of us. But we don’t just want to receive God’s goodness during the conference. Ask God to use us as well to minister to those he puts in our path.

 

PRAYING FOR YOUR PASTOR

It is always meaningful when someone earnestly lets me know they are praying for me. It simply never gets old.

We all need prayer and we all need to be praying for one another.

I don’t know if pastors need prayer any more than other believers, but I do know that we don’t need it any less!

Pastors do have some unique pressures which make them vulnerable to the enemy and to weariness.

Jason Allen is a pastor who shares a few reasons why it is good to pray for your pastor in this article.

Praying for your pastor will not only bless him and his family, it will bless you and your church family.

 

WHAT DO PASTORS LOVE TO HEAR?

 

When I saw this article, “10 Things Pastors Would Love to Hear from Their Church Members”, I was obviously interested in seeing what was on the list and comparing it with my own experience.

#1 on the article’s list is undoubtedly first on my list as well (you have to read the list to discover what that is).

#10 “I will never compare you to a previous pastor” has never been an issue for me. The pastor who preceded me had an unusually powerful ministry. I don’t mind that his ministry “shoes” are bigger than mine. Plus I love him too much to worry about comparisons.

#7 “I will make certain your family has an adequate income.” Like everyone else, I could always use more money, but God and our church have always cared for my family.

#6 “I see my role as one who will confront the perpetual critics in the church.” I must admit, that is a nice one.

And #9 is pretty sweet as well.

#8 “I am available to babysit your kids.” This was helpful at one time, but now I have grandkids and you’re not taking any babysitting opportunities away from me!

Items that belong on the list:

“Let me tell you how God is using me in someone’s life”

“What are some helpful books to read?”

“This is how I have been growing lately in my love for God”

“I love my church”

“This is why I am thankful for the people of our church”

“I am interested in going on a mission trip”

“Let’s get some coffee”

“This pie I baked for you is still warm”

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.07.16

Pastors Feed and Lead their Church

 

1 Peter 5:1-4

The title ‘pastor’ comes from the biblical picture of ‘shepherd’. Pastors fulfill their role as shepherds by Feeding, Leading, Protecting and Caring for the flock (we will look at the first two in this message). Understanding the pastors’ role helps guide our expectations of pastors and our responses to them

 

God calls pastors to feed his people

Feeding is essential to the biblical intention of shepherding

The KJV even translated “shepherd the flock” as “feed the flock”

In John 21 Jesus restores Peter who had denied him 3 times, with the 3-fold charge of “feed my lambs . . tend my sheep . . feed my sheep”

Feeding is our primary responsibility, leading and protecting flow out of it

The only food we have to feed God’s people is God’s Word  2 Timothy 3:16-17

God’s word needs to be continuously Exalted – it is to be honored as being “God-breathed”

God’s word needs to be continuously Loved – more than simply revered

God’s word needs to be fully Trusted – as the highest truth, and as completely sufficient for our lives

God’s word needs to be continuously applied – that is how it “profits” us

Our spiritual diet has to mature if we are to mature  Hebrews 5:12-14

v12 we must start with the basics and be firmly rooted in them

vs 13-14 but we should not stay there

To shepherd a congregation to fully health, the teaching diet must be healthy

Pastors need to challenge how we think; because we  don’t believe as fully as we think we do

We need to dig in more by reading and thinking more deeply

We saw in 2 Timothy 3 that pastoral teaching is not merely presenting info biblical truths are to transform and mobilize our lives

Word ministry is a serious responsibility  2 Timothy 4:1-4

Pause to digest the magnitude of this “charge” (v1)

Pastors dare not hold back by avoiding or minimizing God’s word

Listeners dare not push off what they don’t like, or receive it casually

 

God calls pastors to lead his people (v2)

Christians are people in motion, we are going somewhere

(1)  We are headed for life in a kingdom that is not of this world

(2)  We are being transformed into the image of Christ

Pastors ‘shepherd’ God’s people in the direction we are to be going  Ephesians 4:11-13

They are to help everyone under their care to become more like Christ, which includes engaging everyone in service to his kingdom

This is Challenging!      

If everyone is to participate in all that maturity requires, there need to be church programs and processes to guide them

If everyone is to participate, those who are lagging must be challenged in the areas where they need to move forward

Pastors answer to God in how we fulfill the role he has given  Hebrews 13:17

It is hard to stay fully and unyieldingly biblical; so it is important that congregations encourage their pastors to remain faithful and as they are faithful

How we lead is as important as the fact that we lead (vs 2-3)

Peter presents 3 contrasting ways pastors can serve

1.  Our Attitude is not to be as under compulsion (drudgery), but willingly for the gospel

2.  Our Motive is not to be shameful gain (money, notoriety, power), but eagerly serving Christ

3.  Our Approach is not to be domineering, but as examples of godliness. We cannot lead where we are not going

Any God-given authority or responsibility is built on God-shaped character (who we are), and desires (what we want)

There is mutual accountability in the church

How the pastors lead and how the congregation follows

“Submission to pastors is not subservience, it is living orderly under the leadership of the pastors”  Scott McKnight

The entire church must be abounding with gospel truths for one another to both correct and encourage

All of us are under the leading and care of the “Chief Shepherd” (v4)

We will never truly understand the church or have a healthy church, unless Christ is our exalted head

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.24.16

God Gave Leaders to His Church

 

The New Testament uses 3 titles for those who lead the local church

(1)  Elder – this comes from the Old Testament title for the leaders of a community. Acts 11:30 is the first time it is used for church leaders

(2)  Overseer – first used in Acts 20:28. The title bishop came from this word and over time it became a higher office in the church

(3)  Shepherd – this word is used in Ephesians 4:11 and it is the basis for the commonly used title of “pastor”

Churches today may use these terms differently, but in the New Testament they are interchangeable

We see language representing all three titles in 1 Peter 5:1-4

Many churches have elders with the chief leader called pastor; but we don’t see this distinction in the New Testament

‘Pastor’ is probably the title used most often because it best fits the overall role

The essential role of the pastor is unchangeable. It is the ministry of the Word in teaching, leading and protecting

 

Biblical parameters for pastoral leadership

1.  It must be Qualified leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

Notice there is only one skill required in this list which is “able to teach”

Word ministry is central to pastoral ministry, because it is what we lead from

This shows us that Word ministry must be central to all aspects of church life

Each member of the church fulfills their role through biblical faithfulness

The rest of the qualifications for pastors are character driven

Biblical truths are displayed by character

We don’t truly know biblical truths until we live out those truths

2.  Pastoral leadership is to be Male (1 Timothy 2:11-13)

This is seen by many as a proof that the Bible is outdated and misguided

But this is not an attack on women or a degrading of them

v11 actually contained a radical elevation of a woman’s role, since middle-eastern culture kept women from education

Paul was expanding how the Church looked at the worth and role of women

Yet, Paul does add what is “not permitted” v12

Galatians 3:28 tells us all believers are equal before God,

But here in v13 God has ordained an order of authority and submission

Submission is a dirty word in our culture. However, it is an essential perspective of Biblical Christianity

Submission was required of Christ:  equal to Father, yet submissive

Submission is at the heart of the gospel, as we submit to Christ as Lord

Submission is essential to a biblical family and a healthy church

What is the role of women in the church?  

Women are to be fully engaged in church life for they are needed and fully gifted by the Holy Spirit

Women are to be a source of influence and learning for the whole church

3.  Pastoral leadership is best Shared

The references to elders in the New Testament Church are almost all plural (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, James 5:14. 1 Peter 5:1)

This is not mandated in the Bible, but it appears to be the example

Wisdom itself also calls for shared counsel (Proverbs 11:14 etc.)

Our church views all pastors as equal in authority

Reason #1:  we see no convincing biblical evidence of a higher level of pastor

For those who point to James in Acts 15, Galatians 1:19 tells us he is an Apostle

Many claim the so called Moses model, but Moses was not a pastor, nor did he lead a church

Reason #2:  we want to follow what helps us best glorify God

To operate as a plurality forces us to continually work on character issues; it helps build our sanctification

A major criticism of operating as a plurality is that it is less efficient

“Less efficient concerning what?”  Moving faster or building character?

We have found that it brings greater continuity among the various areas of responsibility held by the different pastors

4.  Pastoral leadership is Servant leadership

All pastors/shepherds serve under the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4)

Servanthood is the only form of life or leadership that the New Testament gives to us

This is true of pastors, small group leaders, parents, husbands, and anyone who wants to be a gospel influence

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF YOUR PASTOR?

I have been very fortunate that years ago my father helped instill a healthy understanding of the pastor’s role into our church. In many churches this is not the case.

I was naturally interested when I saw the title of this article by Joe McKeever,“5 Little-Known Truths About Pastors”.

For our church these may not be “little-known truths”. But it is still helpful for pastors and congregations to be refreshed in their clarity of what God has established about the church.

 

THOUGHTS ON BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP

What does the Bible say about pastoral leadership?

You may not have given much thought about this subject, but it deeply impacts every church and hopefully every Christian (who should be deeply committed to their church).

Over the last several years Greentree has changed its leadership structure to that of a plurality of elders (or pastors). This is different from a senior pastor as the final authority model we have used in the past, and it is different from congregation and board run churches that are also common.

We have talked about this change at times to the congregation (our plan is to teach on the broad topic of church leadership later this year). However, some of you may not be fully clear on this approach to leadership and why we would make the change.

A plurality of elders / pastors means that there are (1) multiple elders /pastors and (2) they all share the same amount of authority together. The role of each pastor is delegated to them by the whole elder / pastoral team.

There are two motivations behind this change:

 1.  We feel it best fulfills the biblical picture

 2.  We have found that this approach to leadership focuses us on our own character as we are work together in our decision making.

When the pastors of a church are committed to keep working on their own growth in godliness, it will in turn be used by God to encourage continued growth in godliness throughout the congregation.

Tim Challies’ blog recently posted this brief article which discusses why a plurality of elders in important. In the article you can also go to this link to watch a 12 minute video by Alexander Strauch who explains biblical pastoral leadership. In my view, Strauch is the best writer on this subject in the church today.

If you are short on time, go to the 6:50 mark in the video where Strauch specifically explains what is meant by a plurality of elders or pastors.

GET TO KNOW YOUR PASTORS: KYLE HUBER

This is the fourth in a series of weekly blogs that answers some of your questions about getting to know the pastors of Greentree Church

Kyle is married to Debbie. They have three grown children: Jordan, Jillian (married to Ryan), and Elyse

When and how did you become a Christian?

From the age of nine days, I have been in church. Hearing the gospel preached caused me to know my sin even as a child. Around the age of 7, I remember praying with my mom before bed to receive Christ.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I attended Taylor University in the small rural town of Upland, IN. My studies were in Political Science and Bible

What led you to become a pastor?

I cannot remember a time when my heart did not desire to serve the church. By the time I entered college I knew I would enter pastoral ministry afterward. In 1982 I came on staff as a pastoral intern and then served many years as Executive Pastor until beginning the transition to Lead Pastor in 2002

What are your main responsibilities at Greentree Church? 

Prayer is the most essential responsibility I have as a pastor. Most of my time centers around preaching. The pastoral team has also delegated to me the responsibilities of planning and leading meetings of the pastors and staff. The pastors have also graciously encouraged my role as President of SEE Global (a mission organization serving Belarus).

What is your passion in ministry?

Teaching has long been a passion. Later a love for developing young leaders grew in me. In recent years my passion for encouraging and equipping pastors has increased

In what area would you like to see our church strengthened?

A healthy church needs to focus on every area that Scripture directs. My heart is that we keep growing deeper in the area of Biblical community. My leading prayer is that we grow in Love for God, which motivates us in all other godly things

What is your favorite book outside of the Bible?

I discovered JRR Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” in grade school. Since then I have read the trilogy over 20 times

Do you have favorite authors?

My favorite Puritan author is Jeremiah Burroughs, and my favorite Bible Commentator is Douglas Moo. In general Christian writing CJ Mahaney, Paul Tripp and Mark Dever are authors I tend to reread

If you could only read one book of the Bible for the coming year, which would it be?

The richness of the gospel in Ephesians is why I would pick that book

Is there a Bible verse that you go back to frequently?

Habakkuk 3:17-18 has been a tremendous help in forming my daily perspective

“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail, and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls; Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

If you were not a pastor, what would you do?

It’s hard to imagine not being a pastor, but my love for teaching would probably lead me to teaching on the university level

What are your favorite foods?

Mediterranean cooking is my favorite. I enjoy trying new cheeses and always have a few varieties at home

If money was no object, what would be your dream vacation?

A few months of slowly cruising around the Mediterranean coast on a very comfortable yacht

What is a perfect day off?

Reading the newspaper at a coffee shop, then lunch at a restaurant with an intriguing menu & walking in a quaint town with Debbie, followed by being engrossed in a historical novel

GET TO KNOW YOUR PASTORS: PAUL LONG

This is the third in a series of weekly blogs that answers some of your questions about getting to know the pastors of Greentree Church

Paul is married to Erin. They have four young children: Lily, Lydia, Elina and Philip

When and how did you become a Christian?

As far as the when, I don’t know. I grew up in a Christian home with Godly parents who always taught me what the bible said and pointed me to the truth of the gospel. I remember at the age of 5 “asking Jesus into my heart”. I always attended Church and Sunday school (which was kind of hard not to when you grow up living on the Greentree property.) I was a good Sunday school kid yet in my heart I don’t know if I was truly a Christian. Through most of my school years I really led a double life; trying to be a good church kid yet fit in with the crowd at the same time. It wasn’t until college after a few bad relationships that I really began to seek God. So I don’t know if I was saved then or when I was younger. But from that time on I took my relationship with God seriously. 

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I went to Gettysburg College and studied Health and Physical Education. I got a minor in Spanish. 

What led you to become a pastor?

Before working at Greentree I was working for my good friend Tim installing granite counters. It was a good job and I really loved working with Tim. But I was becoming increasingly frustrated and dissatisfied in my job. It was a that same time that Pastor Jerry called me into to see if wanted to take a greater role in developing recreational ministry here at Greentree. At the time I was serving as a youth leader and really didn’t have time to commit to more volunteering. 

Several months later, Jerry called me in again and offered me a job as the Director of Children & Youth Ministry.  I was excited, yet I dreaded telling Tim; I didn’t want to let him down but I continue to feel this dissatisfaction at work. When I finally got up enough nerve to talk to him about it he was very encouraging and excited for me.  That was a big confirmation for the direction God was leading me in. 

After I had been working at Greentree for a while the other pastors began to develop me for pastoral ministry.  I spent time with each of them working through various areas of study and practical ministry.  This “on the job” type of training was really helpful because that is how I learn best.

Becoming a pastor was honestly nothing I would have pursued on my own but really came from the encouragement and support of the other pastors. I don’t feel particularly gifted for what I do (most days I feel pretty inadequate actually), yet I am humbled that God would use me in this way despite my failures and inadequacies. It has been a very exciting, yet soul stretching experience. 

What are your main responsibilities at Greentree Church? 

I oversee the children and youth ministry as well as general church administration.

What is your passion in ministry?

My passion is that as a church we would train, equip and encourage families in how they raise, guide and teach their children. 

In what area would you like to see our church strengthened?

I would love to see those who just attend become vibrant members; serving, giving, participating in small groups and making disciples. 

What is your favorite book outside of the Bible?

I don’t really read for fun that much.  I have read a few books on Navy Seals over the years that I have enjoyed.  I like to spend free time bow hunting, fishing, working in the garden, and hanging out with my family. 

If you could only read one book of the Bible for the coming year, which would it be?

Colossians

If you were not a pastor, what would you do?

I really want to be a farmer. My dream some day is to own a farm. 

What are your favorite foods?

I could eat a whole bag of chips.  I really love some traditional Armenian food my family makes like lahmaǰun.  I like any meat product on the grill, sushi, subs, a nice soft homemade oatmeal raisin cookie and ANYTHING my wife makes!

If money was no object, what would be your dream vacation?

I would like to take my wife back to the Cayman Islands.  We went there for a day on our honeymoon and I told her I would take her back some day. But I would settle for a log cabin in the woods for a week or so. 

What is a perfect day off?

Breakfast out on the deck (bacon AND pork roll).  Spending time with my wife and kids. Taking the kids on a bike ride.  Going hunting or fishing.  Sushi for dinner. Finish it off watching a movie with Erin; ice cream of course.

GET TO KNOW YOUR PASTORS: PAT TEDESCHI

This is the second in a series of weekly blogs that answers some of your questions about getting to know the pastors of Greentree Church

Pat is married to Dana. They have three sons: Hudson, Justin and Jacob

When and how did you become a Christian?

Through a Bible study I attended at a workplace – I was 20 yrs old.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

Did one and a half years of general ed at ACCC and then received my BA in International Ministries from Moody Bible Institute

What led you to become a pastor?

I felt a sense of calling to ministry when I was 25 yrs old. After coming home from the mission field I was approached by Greentree’s leadership to consider coming on staff as Pastor of Outreach

What are your main responsibilities at Greentree Church? 

I oversee all evangelistic training and outreach activities/events as well as missions which includes developing vision for global outreach through conferences, short term mission trips and missionary awareness

What is your passion in ministry?

Equipping people for and doing personal evangelism.  Promoting a vision for missions to unreached peoples and encouraging our people to be personally involved in missions

What is your favorite book outside of the Bible?

“Knowing God” by J.I. Packer

Do you have favorite authors?

John Piper, D.A. Carson, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson and J.I. Packer

If you could only read one book of the Bible for the coming year, which would it be?

Any one of the Gospels

Is there a Bible verse that you go back to frequently?

Psalm 16:11

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

If you were not a pastor, what would you do?

Be a missionary to a Muslim people group (which would then involve pastoring!). Or a Travel Guide developer

What are your favorite foods?

Italian, Middle Eastern, Korean, Japanese &Thai

If money was no object, what would be your dream vacation?

Road trip across North Africa, or a culinary tour of Europe

What is a perfect day off?

On the beach with my family by 9 a.m. with coffee & Barefoot Market scones – spend the day there, then dinner and a stroll in Cape May with the love of my life.