For the Perfecting of the Saints
Many years ago I wrote in a church magazine that churches should be run like businesses. I was wrong, and this caused outrage among the church members and pastors. Today, we see many churches run like businesses. In fact many churches are run as businesses, where pastoral staff have become quite rich, not in the word of God but in money and worldly wealth. Do these people have a right, or a mandate from God, to build up their bank balances and live lives of luxury and power? What is Paul telling us here?
Paul tells us that God gives us pastoral staff in our churches for a reason, and it not to spruik a “health and wealth” gospel. He gives us helpers, as in Paul’s list above, to build up the church in unity and love, to help novice Christians become mature, and to prepare them for service. Pastors are the shepherds caring for the flock, called and appointed by God.
I have been to some churches where the pastor disappeared quickly after the sermon, or who only mingled with a select group of close followers. The “sheep” were left to look after themselves. I also went to a church where the pastor stood at the church’s rear exit greeting everyone leaving. He introduced visitors and newcomers to established church members. He remembered people’s names and took an interest in their welfare, and made everyone feel welcome. This may be only a small part of a shepherd’s vocation but it is well on the way to fulfilling the requirements that Paul outlines above.
Pastoral staff called by God are dedicated people who have a heart for all those in their care. They don’t use them or abuse them; and they live their lives as an example for others to follow. Paul was a mighty apostle appointed by God to preach to the gentiles. He was also a humble man and did not parade around like a peacock displaying his status and credentials for all to see. Paul’s zeal for his flock’s welfare was paramount. Even in prison his concern was for his churches, not on the money stored in his bank account.