Principles of Ministry

Part 1 of 3 

Principles for a Biblical Pastor
The Man Of God

by Robert Lewis

Concerning ministry, a man can be “prepared” for ministry in the academic and physical sense and yet not be qualified in the spiritual sense. He must be qualified according to the Scriptures. He may be chosen by men and yet not called by God. He may have struggles in ministry because he has been trained to aspire to the top of a power structure instead of ministering to the hurting and teachable.

A man who aspires to ministry must settle the question as to whether he is chosen by men or called by God. Is he honestly placed by God or simply installed by men? His answer to this question will affect his thinking, his leadership style, and his fruitfulness. If he is called by God, he will see his fellow pastor-neighbors as friends, not competitors, and he will not be threatened every time one of them disagrees with him. 

A preacher told me some time ago that he was not political and that he didn’t do anything political. I asked him if he was married. He said he was. I said, “Then you have to do political negotiations every day.” I believe what this man meant was that he was not capable (or willing) to defend his positions. For him, autocratic behavior was easier than dealing with facts. Consistently reading and feeding on the inspired word of God moves us away from inordinate fascination with oneself (narcissism), patronage shown on basis of blood relationship (nepotism), emphasis on human reason rather than faith in God and His Word (humanism). 

When a man has two goals, care must be taken that he is not “double minded,” because that man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). There is, in most cases, no tribunal or court of appeal to question the conduct of a preacher unless he does something criminal. His judgment will be the loneliness of leading while no one is following. Unfortunately, most local churches do not have tools to help ministry personnel in these matters. At the same time there are copious rules, standards, dress codes, and covenant agreements for committee men, officers, choir members, and ordinary church members. Logic says to me this is an anomaly. There seems to be more accountability for parking lot attendants and greeters than there are for pastors and their staff.

1. A Pastor Must be Called By God
There is a lot more clamoring in the Bible about men calling for this or that, but there are a few significant times in which God calls a man.  

“Adam where art thou?” (Genesis 3:9-11): A Call to Fellowship (Where art thou?) A Call to Confession (Who told thee? – Hast thou eaten?)  What you try to hide from God must be confessed to have fellowship with Him!

“Abraham, Abraham!” (Genesis 22:11): A call to Belief!  A Call to Blessing! What you place on God’s altar is not lost and never can be lost! (Genesis 22:12-17)

Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 3:4):  A Call to Turn Aside! A Call to Listen when God speaks to your heart!   When you stop to listen to God it will change your life no matter how old you are!

“Samuel, Samuel!” (I Samuel 3:10):  This is a Call to Prepare for a prophetic ministry. It is Call to Obey the voice of God!   What you are called to you must prepare for!

“Simon, Simon!” (Luke 22:31):  A Call toRepent! (When thou art converted) A Call toRepair! (Strengthen thy brethren) A Call to Remember!(Satan has desired to have thee!)What you learn by remembering the past will strengthen your future!

“Saul, Saul!” (Acts 9:4):  A Call to Cease and Desist! (Stop persecuting the church!) A Call to Change Directions! (Get off of Broadway and get on Straight Street!) What you are doing needs to be abandoned immediately if you are not on the right road!

God speaks to us today through His Word, though he can use circumstances, unrelated events, and people to direct our pathway as well. Before we can honestly say that the Lord has spoken to us, the leadings that we get must be validated with the clear teaching of the Bible. He does not lead in two directions at the same time. 

2. A Pastor Must be Willing to Serve (1 Peter 5:2)
Too much has been said about the poor preacher and his suffering. 

Sometimes in private conversations you will overhear someone in ministry utter un-Christlike words. They will  complain about their sufferings. Sometimes they mention regrets they have for being in the ministry. I feel sorry for them. They have forgotten the privilege they enjoy as God’s servant. Perhaps they are in it for the prosperity, or the competition. Perhaps they are climbing a ladder to what they consider significance or success. Make no mistake about it. If a man’s heart is someplace other than in the flock, in the pulpit, in the church  where he has been allowed to function, his days are numbered. He will be a “controller” as long as possible. He will finally come to the day when he has no one to control.  Unfortunately, this cycle will perpetuate itself until he learns to be a servant.

3. A Pastor Must be Qualified to Minister (1 Timothy 3:2-6)
Cutting the corners on qualifications for a bishop have disastrous consequences.

These few verses deal with marriage, drinking alcohol, behavior, ability to teach the Bible, fist fighting. greed, covetousness, family order and church oversight. When he is considered for the position of pastor, he should expect deep searching questions about his morals, his habits, his past, his beliefs, his family, and his finances. If he cannot endure this kind of scrutiny, he will not  be much of a follower of Christ and will not enjoy the blessing of God in ministry.

4. A Pastor Must be Content with His Circumstances (1 Timothy 6:3-6)
It seems that no matter what privileges or endowments that we have, we treat them like they are “almost a blessing.”

Short sighted and carnal men often compare their situations to those of the business world. They  are consumed with projected income, growth rates, quality control, market analysis, investments and corporate structure. We should be thinking success and prosperity, but not on the world’s standards. When God blesses his church  and His people individually it will not be because of some humanistic evaluation or scheme. It will be because we have wholly followed the Lord.

5. A Pastor Must be Listening to The Holy Spirit (John 16:12-14)
Everyone listens to someone.

We have countless blogs, tapes, CDs, TV evangelists, mega church personalities, Instagram and Facebook friends, and news commentators. In addition, large metropolitan areas often have hundreds of churches to choose from. We hardly have time to read the Word of God or attend the church we claim as our own. When a man senses the urge to preach, perhaps he should resist it until he hungers and thirsts for it until nothing else matters. In salvation, he must decide to accept God’s gift. In discipleship, he must decide to follow his Shepherd. In service, he must decide to follow his Master. The biggest decision of all is to decide who his master really is. 

Churches are closing at an alarming rate. We need more pastors. We need more good shepherds. We need additional Bible expositors. We cannot afford to slam dunk the unprepared, the unqualified or the halfhearted into the prominent position of pastoring one of God’s churches. If we do endorse such candidates, both they, and we, will be powerless. The world will laugh at us. 

“Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37-38

Part 2 of 3 

Principles For a Biblical Congregation
The Church Of God        

1. A Biblical Church Must be Originated by God
Contrary to popular belief and common practice, authentic churches do not spring up where two or three people are gathered in the name of the Lord. 

I believe the Lord can meet with three sinners in a foxhole, but this does not constitute a church. There must be Bible teaching, sinners converted, converts baptized, and missionaries sent and supported to have an authentic church. This, like so many other things were God’s idea. Just think about it. Procreation, the family, law and order, the seasons, night and day, laboring for health and food are all ideas that God provided for our benefit. Sending men to start churches all over the world to win lost people is certainly born out of genuine compassion for hopeless and helpless souls who are clamoring for  things that will not satisfy them past the graveyard.

“And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18

God sent the first men, the Apostles, to start His churches. From those churches other churches were started that were “after their kind.” That is they were made up of the same material, sinners that were born again of the Spirit and added to the churches by baptism. John baptized all the Apostles and they, in turn, organized additional congregations of the same material and doctrine all over the known world.

It is a church that sends a man to start a church. He is God’s man. He has been proven in a church. He has an authentic testimony and has been scripturally baptized. He will therefore reproduce “after his kind,” and not start the first church of personal preference or sinful indulgence.

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” – II Timothy 2:2

faithful sure of beliefs, true of character and trustworthy of friends

2. A Biblical Church Must Unified in Purpose
Everything about an authentic church is about caring for people.

There are the lost that need to be saved, the ignorant that need to be taught, the hungry that need to be fed, and the downtrodden to be lifted up. Many congregations attempt one or more of these Biblical mandates while leaving off the main thing of winning souls to Christ one on one, and through invitations at public services. Visitation has gone by the wayside in many communities. Targeted visitation to needy people should be a priority, not just visitation to solicit church hoppers.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27

undefiled – unsoiled and pure
unspotted – with a moral integrity that is unblemished and a physical presence that is clean

I might add here that the number professions of faith do not always equal the number of conversions. When asked how may were saved in the services Charles Spurgeon would respond, “I do not know how many were saved, but we had this many hopeful seekers come to the altar today.”

3. A Biblical Church Must be Purified in Heart
The thoughts, emotions and decisions of a church will be reflected in the conversations that take place within it, including the prayers.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-38 

“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” – Luke 6:45

If a church is gathering for prayer, but spends more time talking to one another, about others, than they do talking to the Lord, they may need revival in their hearts. A good prayer should have adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and finally supplication,

4. A Biblical Church Must be Empowered by The Holy Spirit
Sinful creatures often want power for the wrong reasons.

Holy Spirit power begins at the day the Gift of God is truly received. It is a miracle that sinners can be gloriously saved to walk in newness of life! It is normal that they now experience the power to overcome their worst habits and bad attitudes. The Holy Spirit will teach them and guide them as they make changes and decisions in their commitments to the Lord, His church, and to others. This power continues to develop the believer and enable him to match all the difficult circumstances of life with the Grace of God.

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

This power is not for personal gain nor importance. It is for the singular purpose of being faithful and powerful witnesses as to the saving power of God towards guilty sinners. It will not work for those who are only “pursuing happiness” as their religion. True happiness is a by-product of serving the Lord with all your heart. It cannot be fabricated in any other way.

5. A Biblical Church Must be Solidified in Strength
It is unfortunate that many churches are led by people who are self-willed and soon angry. This causes division and powerlessness.

“Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.” – Colossians 1:11

Strengthened with all might – This was an object of Paul’s earnest prayer. He desired that they might be strengthened for the performance of duty; to meet temptations; and to bear up under the various trials of life.

According to his glorious power – Not by any human means, but by the power of God. There is a manifestation of power in the spirit with which Christians are enabled to bear up under difficult circumstances, which shows that it is not of human origin. It is the power which God gives them in the day of trial. This power is “glorious,” or, as it is in the Greek, it is the “power of his glory.” It is manifestly the power of the great and glorious God, and it tends to promote his glory, and to show forth his praise.

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
II Corinthians 12:10

This, like so many other principles of the Christian faith, goes against our natural humanistic tendencies. We must realize that our spiritual strength is not in our physical condition. It is in our spiritual condition. It is in the newness of life that we receive as an undeserved gift from God when we are born of the Spirit. This is the reason every genuine believer can say what Paul said:

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:21

This is a worshipful attitude which is so often absent in public services.

I had been in a meeting where the Word of God was preached on a regular basis. They, like many churches, have had some consternation over the vaccine and masking issues. But guess what. After a call to prayer, revival had been experienced in the church. It is not a new church, but one that is staying on the old paths, teaching and preaching timeless truth which changes lives and builds character. We must not allow cultural controversy, political disagreement, and personal preference to alienate us from the one who loved us and gave Himself to deliver us from our sins. We must endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ!

Driving through any community one might think that the many buildings which have the word “church” ascribed to them were all doorways by which one might find truth about God, eternity, and spiritual values. Many similarities do exist in these shells of religion. Unfortunately, there are physical attributes which may lead the simple to think they are like spokes on a big wheel all leading to the same place. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We will here describe some of the fallacies of this presumption. Our conclusions are based upon the Bible. Without it, no church has the authority of God and will fail in any number of areas using only human wisdom.

The Church is Not a Business, but it must have business like practices  

There is not only the appearance that a church must consider, but there is also integrity to be maintained and monitored for the health of the body. There are bills to pay, salaries to compute, missionaries to support, and items to purchase. It is in this area that many churches have conflict. They often use a business model that allows the finances to be manipulated by unspiritual persons. Paul commended Titus and two unnamed brothers who were “chosen of the churches” and “whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches” to handle the money committed to the work of the Lord by the Corinthian Church.

“Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” – II Corinthians 8:20-21

The Church is Not a Fraternity, but it must function as a family  

Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. This includes all those who are born of the Spirit of God. This is a big clan of many distant relatives. The local church is the spiritual family to which they belong and participate in love and care for one another.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” – I Corinthians 1:10

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” – Philippians 2:2-3

The Church is Not a primarily a Social Organization, but it must have social interaction 

My definition of a social group is an informal gathering, especially of an organized group, that promotes companionship, communal activity, and common interests. Human beings need each other. Christians help one another. There are many applications of social interaction in a church body. They may freely enjoy their common interests while fulfilling their purpose and calling of God. However, they cannot fully enjoy the benefits of their relationships if they do not show up for services and scheduled activities.

Fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ and His local family will require some social skills and participation. It is through this interaction that we can learn to exercise godliness and take upon ourselves the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a growing process. He does not intend for one of us to have the attitude that we do not need others in our lives.

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17  

“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24

Adversity is the common lot of brotherhood. It comes sooner or later to all of us. It is a necessity of our nature and a wise appointment of God. In adversity we learn to love, forgive, and be held accountable for our actions and words.

The ties of brotherhood are formed for adversity. We are united in families for purposes of mutual succour. Adversity tends to sanctify the interaction of the brotherhood. Some of the most valuable of our lessons have taught to us in our interaction with one another. In adversity we are led to know, in a special manner, the presence of the elder brother (Jesus) with the brotherhood. Jesus became a brother in adversity. His sufferings and sorrows enabled him to sympathize with us in all our struggles and troubles.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:15 

It is by adversity that the whole brotherhood is gathered at last into our father’s house above. (anon.)

The Church is Not a Democratic Organization, but it must have fairness and honesty

Decisions must be made. Judgment must be exercised. Wisdom must prevail for the body to be spiritually well. Carnality, pride, and selfishness will prevent the church body from presenting the image of Christ Jesus to a lost and dying world.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” – I Timothy 2:1-2

It is not only Bible knowledge that must be pursued. Many are the heretics that have Bible knowledge. Knowledge comes from study of the Word. Wisdom comes from God. Wisdom is the correct application of the Word of God to a given situation or conflict that may arise in the congregation.

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” – Proverbs 4:7

There is a disparaging gap between what we know and what we practice. It is not just us; it is an ever-present human weakness. Our walk in the world, our weariness in the flesh, and our war with the Devil makes it difficult to live a spirit-filled, victorious, and joyful life.

“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” – John 13:15-17  

Happiness is never to be sought in Scripture. It is a by-product of seeking the Lord with all of your heart and walking rightly.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-38

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” – Psalm 84:11  

The Church is Not Humanistic in philosophy, but it must have a philosophy –

In humanism, man’s desire is the same as Satan’s desire.

“…I will be like the most High.” – Isaiah 14:14

Often, rich men, educated men, and most assuredly proud men, think that their ways are superior to the teachings of the Word of God.

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” – Ephesians 5:6

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” – 1Timothy 1:5-7

The philosophy of the church cannot survive a partial or limited commitment to the Lord God of Heaven.  His Word is final. His Authority is complete, and His church is to pursue Holiness.

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” – Isaiah 45:22

The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth.” That is, it remains to this day the foundation and superstructure from which the Word of God is to be proclaimed, supported, distributed, and obeyed in this sin cursed world. No man has the right to change it or destroy it. It is to be read, preached, taught at every opportunity. Without it, sinners have no hope.

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” –Romans 10:17

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Churches need not have buildings, but they must have structure, doctrine, activity, and purpose. Don’t be fooled by all the buildings.