This past Sunday evening, we had a service specially themed around worship and the importance of the home in setting the direction of a child’s worship.
In the early part of the service, families played and sang, and two of our staff men gave tips on involving children in music as well as the importance of worship. I preached a message from Deuteronomy 6 on “Teaching Eternal Truths.”
Like music, church life has an underlying rhythm—an ebb and flow with areas of emphasis (like a downbeat) and support that keeps the melody moving.
In our case, the melody, of course, is the gospel. Propagating the gospel and subsequent discipleship is the primary mission of the local church, given to us by Jesus Himself (Matthew 28:18–20).
But how is that melody sustained? It is by regular rhythms of church life.
Maintaining a healthy rhythm is the responsibility of the undershepherd, the overseer of the flock.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.—Acts 20:28
Sometimes it’s easy, especially during holiday seasons, to start losing the big picture and just move from one event to the next without causative leadership. But when we do that, our good intentions for gospel outreach lose their focus as we lose ours.
Below are three areas in which a pastor should work to keep cadence, even during busy seasons:
1. Teaching and Preaching
The preaching of God’s Word is the primary responsibility of the pastor.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.—2 Timothy 4:2
We do our congregations a disfavor if we become so wrapped up in outreach or activities that we neglect through study of God’s Word and preparation of doctrinally-rich, personally-practical messages. As Spurgeon commented, “Some brethren have done with their text as soon as they have read it. Having paid all due honour to that particular passage by announcing it, they feel no necessity further to refer to it.”
I know for myself that I will be out multiple times each week sharing the gospel and following up on contacts, specifically in light of our special Christmas services. But I also desire to preach messages in the coming weeks that will focus our church family’s heart on the wonder of the incarnation and in worship toward Christ. Those messages will require study and preparation. (I wrote more about making study time more effective here.)
All throughout the year, the preached and taught Word of God should be the driving force of the local church. It should be the engine that pulls the train.The preached Word of God should be the driving force of the local church. Click To Tweet
The Word of God sets the agenda, and the pastor is responsible to determine the pace as the Holy Spirit leads.
2. Planning and Administration
Administration is not the pastor’s number one focus, but it is necessary. Even if he delegates responsibilities, he cannot abdicate this role.
To fulfill my role as an overseer, I cannot delegate all administration and only preach. Rather, I should stay engaged and, even as the apostles did in Acts 6, use the facets of administration in which I stay engaged to develop new leaders.
Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.—Acts 6:2–4
A pastor who focuses only on preaching and neglects administration will soon find he is preaching to a distracted congregation.A pastor who neglects administration will soon find he is preaching to a distracted congregation. Click To Tweet
This is why it is important that a pastor keep vision casting and administration in his rhythms of scheduling and planning. (I recently wrote some tips about this here.)
3. Serving and Celebrating
Like Christ, the chief Shepherd, it is our job as undershepherds to serve God’s people.
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.—1 Peter 5:2–4
One of our greatest areas of service is to “feed the flock of God” through the study and preaching of God’s Word mentioned above. But we are also to encourage and equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11–12).
There are many ways to encourage God’s people—notes, remembering a birthday or anniversary, prayer, an encouraging word, recognition for service, and more—but they all require time and intention. Try not to be guilty of not noticing or of not responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.There are many ways to encourage God’s people, but they all require time and intention. Click To Tweet
And take time to celebrate victories as a church family as well. Whether it be outreach testimonies in a church service or a reception to thank a group of people who have served, look for ways to celebrate God’s goodness. Sometimes we get so driven in the busy ministry seasons that we forget to stop and praise the Lord for what He’s done.
Teaching and preaching, planning and administration, serving and celebrating—none of these are necessarily proclaiming the gospel itself. But they are all important to maintaining a healthy rhythm for the one great message we have to proclaim: Jesus!