This is Robert, the pastor of the church we attended in Tucson when we lived there. It was a very large church, so that while we met Robert once or twice, we didn't know him personally. But God used him in our lives, as well as his wife Lisa who died of cancer a little over a year ago. They were used in the same way The Lord is now using another pastor, Alistair Begg. Robert, Lisa, Alistair and many others teach Gods word faithfully. And through modern technology and podcasts I can still listen to their teachings and The Word speaks to me through them.
So it was interesting to me this weekend listening to Robert's teaching when he mentioned the difference between theologians and pastors. He said that theologians tend to be in their ivory towers of studying the Bible, while pastors are on the front lines, teaching it to their congregations. Of course he is right...there is such power in God's word and on the occasions that Gabe or I teach it to kids or Bible study groups we can feel the spiritual battle surrounding it. So I imagine it must be intense for those with the gift of preaching to larger audiences.
But it got me thinking...is preaching the word the only kind of front line ministry? I don't think Pastor Robert would say so. What do we believe?( not what do we say, but what do we believe shown by how we live?)
Ephesians 4:11-12 "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, "
What does front line ministry look like?
(Photos courtesy of Calvary Chapel Tucson)
For me right now, it looks like this:
Front line ministry is for us, my friends. Not just our pastors and teachers. They are the supply sergeants with our mission manuals and training regimen. They are there to train us up and send us out! Many pastors forget this in the work of caring for our brokenness day after day...they feel alone on the front lines and maybe miss the people in their churches they could be training up to minister better to each other. But that's not just on the pastors; it's ultimately on us! And don't kid yourself into thinking church attendance or even church event attendance and volunteer work are all there is to front line ministry. The Bible tells us to go into all the world (or next door, or at your child's school or your workplace or wherever He puts you) and make disciples!
What's really cool about joining the front lines is this: His word comes alive for you and your relationship with Him takes on a whole new dimension. I need it to be a lamp unto my feet every day on the path He has set out for me. I need to know I'm following Him, not my own ideas. I see His heart and His love for me as He loves others sacrificially through me.
Don't settle for anything less than the adventure He has for you. Get in the battle! It's infinitely with the cost.