Archives For Shepherding

September 27, 2013

The Minister as Waiter

by Mike Riccardi

Reposted from August 26, 2011.

In Acts 6, we find that famous passage in which the occasion comes for the Apostles to designate the priorities of the Christian ministry. The twelve make it known to the congregation that, above all other ministerial responsibilities and worthy pursuits, they will devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Ac 6:4).

The Greek word translated “ministry” in that passage is diakonía. It comes from the verb diakonéō, the normal New Testament verb that is translated, “to minister.” While it eventually takes on the more technical connotation of what we think of as “Christian ministry,” its most basic meaning is to serve. In fact, it’s used this way in the very same passage. In Acts 6:1 we’re told of the problem that prompted the Apostles’ response: the widows of the Hellenistic Jews “were being overlooked in the daily serving (diakonía) of food.”

And the word is used in this most basic sense frequently throughout the gospels.

  • Peter’s mother-in-law began ministering (diakonéō) to Jesus after He healed her. What was her ministry? The NASB says, “…she got up and waited on Him” (Mt 8:15, NASB).
  • Similarly, the alert slave waiting for his master’s coming is said to wait on (diakonéō) his master and his guests (Lk 12:37, NASB).
  • In Luke 17:8, the “unprofitable servant,” who is not thanked for doing his duty, is said to serve (diakonéō) his master while he eats and drinks.
  • Finally, Martha complains to Jesus about Mary leaving her “to do all the serving (diakonéō) alone” (Lk 10:40), which of course included the practical preparations for Jesus’ visit to their house (see also John 12:2). Here again, ministry takes on this connotation of waiter- or waitress-like service.

If we seek to follow in the Apostles’ footsteps in devoting ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word of God, we must adopt the attitude of a diákonos in the various contexts of the Christian ministry. The biblical shepherd is to be a servant—a waiter who supplies the food of the Word of God appropriately according to the various hunger pangs of the flock that Christ has entrusted to him.

As I reflect on the implications of this illustration of the minister as waiter, I find that there are some really insightful parallels between the pastor and the waiter. Here are five of those.

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September 24, 2013

Moderate Mourning

by Jesse Johnson

tearsWhen a Christian dies, other believers find themselves pulled by two competing emotions both clamoring for obedience in the heart. First, the ones left behind have the desire to grieve their loss. The father who is not there, the mother who is gone, or the child who precedes her parents in death—when someone dies there are those left who will be missing their loved one, and grief is an urgent and inevitable reality. This is why Romans 12:15 commands us to mourn with those who mourn.

But Romans 12:15 also commands us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and here the Christian finds his heart pulled in the other direction.  We desire to celebrate that a person we love has run their race, finished the course, and now resides in glory. We want to be glad because we know they are exceedingly better. Thus our hearts are simultaneously pulled to joy as to grief.

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Monday’s Navy Yard shooting ended with twelve innocent people murdered. One of them was Marty Bodrog.

half mast

Marty, along with his wife Melanie, was a faithful part of Immanuel Bible Church. He was the kind of guy who causes people to conclude that God gives certain men the grace to father daughters; Marty was gregarious yet gentle, towering yet kind. Indeed he had three daughters, Izzy, Sophie, and Rita—two of whom are still in high school, and all three have their father’s wit and gentleness.

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September 16, 2013

Living with Grizzlies

by Clint Archer

English: Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis...Grizzly bears are arguably the most significant animal threat to humans in North America. Unlike my homeland, South Africa, where the man eating predators are almost exclusively confined to areas where people are safe from them, many national parks in North America allow campers and hikers to explore areas where bears roam freely in the wild.

Grizzly means golden haired, but a famous pun was institutionalized by naturalist George Ord when he classified them, “not for their looks but for their grisly character,” as he averred. “Grisly” means “causing horror,” so Ord classified the mainland Grizzly as urcas arctos horribilis, or “horrible American bears.” The mainland grizzly is the largest and most aggressive species in America. They grow to be over 360kg. And at 2 meters tall and 1 meter wide they are the dimensional equivalent of meaty, man-eating, Ford Fiesta.

These deceptively docile-looking fuzzy creatures are notorious for their dexterity at killing humans with a casual swat, but then also feasting on the carcass. Since they can move faster than the average cyclist, there is no use trying to outrun them. Your best defense (apparently), should you have the unhappy privilege of encountering one in the wild, is to lie in a fetal position, play dead, and hope its not hungry.

Unless you are Timothy Treadwell.

Treadwell was nicknamed the Grizzly Man. He spent a total of 13 months, or 35,000 hours in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, living with bears. He captured some of the most intimate and spectacular footage of grizzlies. Over time the bears began to accept him in their presence. He could walk right up to them and stroke them like a domestic pet, something no other human being has captured on film. Treadwell was not afraid of the bears, nor were they afraid of him. And that became a problem. The park officials viewed him as “misguided at best, and at worst, dangerous.” They were concerned that his example could lead others to believe the bears were harmless, and venture to approach them. All other bear experts agreed that the grizzlies were still wild, still dangerous, and that Treadwell was treading on thin ice by being near them. And the experts were right. Continue Reading…

gideon_fleeceIt’s easy to over complicate the call to ministry. But there’s nothing particularly magical about discerning it, even when it comes to church planting. And we need not put out a fleece or wait for a vision. In fact, if you’re looking for that, then you’re probably looking in the wrong place. The call to plant a church is similar to the call to pastoral ministry since a church-planter, by definition, will do all that a pastor does, though a bit more. Church planting, then, is fundamentally pastoral ministry, which makes discerning the call simpler than we might think.

Here are 5 criteria to help discern the call:

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Yesterday I wrote about the decline of Sunday evening worship services in the US. The church I pastor, Immanuel Bible Church in the Washington DC area, is one of those churches that used to have a Sunday evening service but stopped it about 15 years ago. The church had grown, they were having four morning services, and it just wasn’t possible to do an evening one. So the elders stopped it, and eventually decided that to better shepherd the congregation they would do community groups on Sunday evenings. But recently the elders began talking about the concept of Sunday evening worship services. Here is the letter I wrote to the congregation explaining why we are going to resurrect ours:   Continue Reading…