Archives For Theology of Pastoral Ministry

What is “grace”? Some would define it as “unmerited favor” (whatever that means!). Often we hear the word “grace” as it relates to the work Christ did on our behalf on the Cross. However, the apostle Paul used the word to describe how God appointed and entrusted Paul to do ministry. In today’s post I show how God’s grace was essential to the apostle Paul’s ministry and how it is necessary for your leadership.

I. NOT BECAUSE OF PAUL’S OWN WORK

Acts 8:1 says that, “Saul [who was later renamed Paul] was one of the witnesses, and he agreed completely with the killing of Steven.” Later in Paul’s life in a letter to the Philippians he says, ” I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin–a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law” (Phil 3:5). It was obvious that Paul was a strong believer in YHWH, the God of Israel based on the Old Testament. He stood to persecute this new Way that had urupted and he was doing everything that he could to stop it. Yet, he was the one chosen by God to do bring the news of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul being appointed to do the work of God had nothing to do with Paul’s own work; it had everything to do with God’s grace.

II. APPOINTMENT FROM GOD

Paul’s appointment by God for God’s work is told in Acts 9. After Paul sees Jesus appear to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-9) God spoke to a man named Ananias about going to see Paul. God told Ananias, “But the Lord said, ‘Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel'” (Acts 9:15). Later in Paul’s ministry he affirms that his appointment for ministry was from God (Acts 26:19-20).

In Paul’s numerous letters he regularly refers to himself as

  • “a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle” (Rom 1:1).
  • “God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13).

When writing to the Corinthians Paul starts his letter in this way,

  • “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Cor 1:1).
  • “This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 1:1).

To the Galatians:

  • “This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead” (Gal 1:1).

While Paul had knowledge and understanding that might have led him to be successful, Paul makes it clear in his letters that he was appointed for work by God.

III. APPOINTMENT BY GRACE

Paul makes it clear that he was appointed to do work by grace.

  • “Even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him” (Gal 1:15).
  • “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecutived his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love tht come from Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 1:12-14).

IV. WITH THE APPOINTMENT THERE WAS WORK TO BE DONE

After Paul’s appointment from God he immediately began his work. While imprisoned later in his life Paul tells King Agrippa about his ministry history, “I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God–and prove they have changed by the good things they do” (Acts 26:19-20).

  • “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him” (1 Tim 1:12).
  • “And God chose me to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of his Good News” (2 Tim 1:11).
  • “This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have been sent to proclaim fiath to those God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live godly lives” (Titus 1:1).

V. GOD’S APPOINTMENT COMPELLED PAUL TO CONSTANT HUMILITY

“I have done the Lord’s work humbly and with many tears. I have endured the trials that came to me from the plots of the Jews” (Acts 20:19).

VI.   PAUL WAS ENTRUSTED TO DO THE WORK GOD GAVE HIM

“And now at just the right time he has revealed this message, which we announce to everyone. It is by the command of God our Savior that I have been entrusted with this work for him” (Titus 1:3).

VII. CONCLUSION

In a similar way we too need to be appointed for our work. That appointment probably will not be in the same form as Paul with Jesus appearing to him personally, but our own appointment is something that should be clear to us. That appointment might be someone who sees strength that we have to do something correctly. Someone might see that we have a natural gift in a certain area. Or it might be a position that God has allowed us to have within an organization.

Paul experienced suffering from the beginning of his Christian ministry. After Paul regained his sight (Acts 9:17-19) he began preaching in the synagogues in the city of Damascus (Acts 9:20). Shortly after Paul began his preaching ministry some Jews made a plan to kill him (Acts 9:17-20, 23). This persecution and suffering of Paul would become a theme for the rest of his life.

Paul's Suffering as a Leader

“Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.* I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.” (2 Cor 11:23-27) 1

I.     PAUL’S SUFFERING WAS FROM GOD Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New Living Translation

Today is the final part of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday’s post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philosophy of work).

Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.

One challenge with my theology of pastoral ministry is that it is broad.

“Being a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world” is broad and does not give specific tasks or activities that I can do. However, that also gives me a strength because God is the one who has authority over me. Because God has authority over me, I follow His direction and what He wants me to do.

If God wants me to be a leading servant by doing one thing, then at a later time He wants me to be a leading servant by doing something completely different, that is ok because my theology of pastoral ministry has room for that. Because my statement is broad it allows God to be the leader and I can follow the change that He directs me to make. I recently heard Beth Moore teach on this same topic. She realized early in her life that she should surrender to God and commit to following Him, not to surrender and commit to a specific ministry.[1]

Another strength of my theology of pastoral ministry is that I am pretty good at envisioning and thinking. Because I am good at thinking and envisioning about a specific topic I can often dream and see things bigger than others. However, because I can think through my theology of pastoral ministry and see possible ways to serve others, that opens up the possibility that I might see something and pursue a vision that is not God’s vision for my life and ministry. Thus, I need to stay in communication with God and stay committed to Him and His vision for my life.

My theology of pastoral ministry is to be a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world. This helps to direct me while here on earth. It helps me to follow God’s direction of shepherding those I work with and those who read my writing.

Question: What is your theology of pastoral ministry or philosophy of work?

BIBLIOGRAPHY (for the entire 6 part blog series)

Comfort Ph.D., Philip W and Walter A. Elwell. Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.

Graham, Billy. Billy Graham Talks to Teen-agers, Wheaton: Miracle Books, 1958.

Graham, Billy. The Journey: Living by Faith in an Uncertain World Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2006.

Moore, Beth. “So Long Insecurity.” Lecture, Catalyst Conference at Gwinnett Arena, Duluth, GA, October 7, 2010.

Roberts-Lewis, Amelia and Tonya D. Armstrong. “Moving the Church to Social Action.” Social Work and Christianity 37, no. 2 (2010): 115-127.

Smith, A. Iona. “A Little Child Shall Lead Them” in “Emerging as Ministers” in Congregations 32, no. 4 (2006): 26-40.

Stace Vega, April. Afterword of More Ready Than You Realize: The Power of Everyday Conversations, by Brian McLaren. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006.

Stanley, Andy. “When Less is More.” Lecture, Catalyst West Conference at Mariners Church, Orange County, CA, April 23, 2010.

Swanson, James A. and Keith Williams, “Dictionary and Index for Hebrew and Greek Word Studies.” in New Living Translation Study Bible, 2225. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.

Thompson, James W. Pastoral Ministry According to Paul: A Biblical Vision Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.


[1] Beth Moore, “So Long Insecurity” (lecture, Catalyst Conference at Gwinnett Arena, Duluth, GA, October 7, 2010).

Today is part five of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday's post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).

Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.

And finally, any statement of theology needs to lay out a view of the church to explore how the theology plays a part within (or outside) of the church.

Often when we think of the word “church” we think of the buildings which we call churches, a group of Christians in a local community, or Christians as a whole community within a pagan nation. I have felt God’s voice in my life saying that my church will not be geographically based and that He wants me to “go and make leaders of everyday men and women.”

There are so many people who are less fortunate and have much worse living situations than you and I. It is on my heart to do something about those terrible living situations many people around the world live in. I, as an American, have an obligation to do and use everything that I can to serve and help others who live around the world rather than someone right next to me. Thus, my church is the people in the whole world.

The truth is, whether we are talking about people who regularly meet inside a church building or people who do not yet know God, the world and churches are “comprised of broken people, people from all walks of life who experience pain and suffering.”[1] It is anyone who has a desire to learn and grow in leadership.

Right now part of the church I minister to is my work environment, but it also includes the thousands of people from around the world who read my writing on this blog. Within the past month, I have had people visit my blog from the United Kingdom (83 people), Canada (66), Philippines (41), Australia (41), China (33), Kenya (18), India (17), and Malaysia (12).[2]  I am sure that my view of the church God has made me responsible to shepherd is only temporary and that it will change over time, but for now shepherding my church is looking after my co-workers and serving those who read my writing and benefit from it.

Question: How do you view the "church" or people you serve through your work?


[1] Amelia Roberts-Lewis and Tonya D. Armstrong, “Moving the Church to Social Action,” Social Work and Christianity 37, no. 2 (2010): 117.

[2] Stats taken from Google Analytics for ChristopherScottBlog.com from Oct 13, 2011 to Nov 12, 2011.

Today is part two of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday's post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).

Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.
Pastoral ministry is about serving others,[1] which means it is important that I understand that people want to feel valued and worthy of respect.

While reading the book More Ready Than You Realize in an effort to learn more about evangelism, I learned how this great principle positively influences the people we serve. In the book a young woman shares her reflections on a two year evangelism conversation she had with the author, Brian McLaren, via email. While sharing her story and experience of moving from an unbeliever to a Christian, she writes, “I don’t remember much of what he [Brian McLaren] wrote [in his emails to her]. What I do remember is something far deeper and more important: that there was someone who was really listening to me and who was responding to me, not in a formula or in quick clichés, but sincerely and thoughtfully.”[2]

That statement from this young woman gives us great insight into what people are looking for when they are being shepherded by a “pastor.” People are looking for someone to be real with them and show a sincere interest in them.

The people I serve at work probably do not want to feel that I am trying to evangelize them so I can add another Christian to my “convert list.” They do not want to feel they are one of many people whom I have questioned about their faith and tried to lead to Christ. They do not want to hear me give a bunch of well rehearsed questions and answers to their struggles with faith. They are looking for me to be sincerely interested in them, to show them value for who they already are, and to walk and talk with them as their faith evolves.

Question: How do you understand the people you work with and serve?


[1] Jennifer McLaughlin, interview by author, Norfork, CA, November 12, 2011.

[2] April Stace Vega, afterword of More Ready Than You Realize, by Brian McLaren (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 169.

Today is part three of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday's post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).

Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.
Ministry is the work that we do to serve and help others.

A great definition of Bible-based ministry is written by James Thompson when he asserts, “ministry is participation in God’s work of transforming the community of faith until it is ‘blameless’ at the coming of Christ.”[1] This ministry of helping others to become blameless at Christ’s coming is a gift that is both strenuous and amazing at the same time,[2] and it can happen in any area or context. With my theology of pastoral ministry to be a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world, I believe that the work I do should be focused.

One of the most successful evangelists in the past century, Billy Graham, who devoted his life to evangelism and winning souls for Christ, stated early in his ministry that “concentration is important. The [person] who has a general interest in everything usually isn’t good at anything.”[3] Another pastor, Andy Stanley, who is considered one of the most influential Christian voices in America, often teaches that we as leaders should “only do what only you can do.”[4] This means that for myself as a pastor and leader I need focus on doing only what I can do.

At United Way of Stanislaus County, I should work hard to share my faith and attempt to nurture the faith of other people around the office. No one else talks about their faith until I bring it up, so I must do what only I can do: shepherd those people at work. If I had not given that Bible to my coworker, I highly doubt anyone else would have. If I had not talked with the lady who sits across the hall from me about why she is an atheist, no one else probably would have (and I do not think anyone has done that since).

In the context of my writing about leadership during nights and weekends, I need to share biblical principles and how they can be lived out in businesses and nonprofits. Not many people are willing to do that for free; thus I must do that as part of what only I can do to serve others.

Question: Do you believe your work is about serving others? Why or why not?


[1] James W. Thompson, Pastoral Ministry According to Paul: A Biblical Vision (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 20.

[2] A. Iona Smith, “A Little Child Shall Lead Them” in “Emerging as Ministers” in Congregations 32, no. 4 (2006): 34.

[3] Billy Graham, Billy Graham Talks to Teen-agers (Wheaton: Miracle Books, 1958), 29-30.

[4] Andy Stanley, “When Less is More” (lecture, Catalyst West Conference at Mariners Church, Orange County, CA, April 23, 2010).

Today is part two of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday's post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).

  Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.

Understanding who God is is very important in order to have a clear view of my own theology of pastoral ministry.

Evangelist and author, Billy Graham, explains that, “You will never understand who you are until you understand who God is.”[1] As Mr. Graham stated, it is important for us to know who God is before we can legitimately know who we are. In my view, God is all-powerful, ruling over the earth and all things. God is the holy trinity, the one who is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, and I am under His supreme authority serving others.

I view myself being under God’s authority much like the Roman officer described in this passage of Matthew:

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel!” Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour.[2]

I am not sure if I completely understand this story theologically, but I do understand that the Roman officer knew Jesus was here on earth under God’s authority. Because Jesus was under God’s authority He was able to do what He was supposed to do—perform miracles.

Similar to Jesus being under God’s authority, I too am under God’s authority. God has a plan that I do not know about and that is at times hard to understand, but I do realize that He has a plan and story for me to fit into. For some of us that story is to be full-time ministers where we shepherd and pastor people for a living. God employs others, such as me, to do pastoral ministry in a semi-formal way where it is not their full-time job but they have received some specific training that allows them to minister to others and serve them.


[1] Billy Graham, The Journey: Living by Faith in an Uncertain World  (Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group, 2006), 13.

[2] Matthew 8:5-10, 13

Today is part 1 of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).

Clipart of a Pastor. Photo courtesy Microsoft Word.
My personal theology of pastoral ministry directs and orients my life to be a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world.

It is something that I have thought through, lived out, and participated in for three years now based on my study of scripture, input from mentors, and books that I have read. In this paper I will explain how my theology of pastoral ministry is lived out in my life as a pastor, who God is, ministry, humanity, and the church.

An important element of being a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world is to live out my role as a pastor.

When thinking through what it means to be a pastor the word “shepherd” comes to mind as a great biblical example of the role of serving as a pastor within any context. The definition of a shepherd is “one who took complete care of a flock or sheep.”[1] The Greek word for shepherd is “poimen” which means “taking care of sheep. They [the various forms of the word poimen] figuratively refer to someone who is in a leadership position, such as over a community or nation; a shepherd has authority, provides protection, and cares for the flock.”[2]

Being a leading servant who spreads God’s love around the world means that I seek to pastor and shepherd people by looking over them and taking care of their spiritual health. A Bible verse that demonstrates this well is Mark 6:34 where we read about Jesus and His disciples attempting to get some quiet time alone to rest. As they were in a boat traveling, some people saw Jesus and His disciples leaving, so they ran ahead of the boat (via shoreline). In the Gospel of Mark we read, “Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”[3]

This is similar to me in my own ministry. A part of me feels called to minister to people through writing about biblical truths to help direct them in their own leadership work and life. The Apostle Paul’s letter to Peter further explains how I see my role as a pastor within my theology of pastoral ministry when he writes, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly. . . .”[4] This says to me that God has entrusted people to me, and I need to do my very best to guide them along, protect them, and serve them through my spoken and written words.

At this time, God has entrusted me be an unofficial pastor at United Way of Stanislaus County where I can help “shepherd” and watch over the spiritual health of the people there. However, while working at United Way of Stanislaus County I have not always thought of myself as a pastor, I have just tried to share my faith and do the “right thing” when interacting with coworkers. It has not been until thinking about my theology of pastoral ministry that I realized I have been serving as an unofficial pastor at work. I give Bibles to people I know might need one, and I respect the opinions of people who are agnostic and believe Jesus is a “mythical guy that people believe in.”[5]

Recently a woman at work mentioned to me that she and her boyfriend were reading the Bible together out of the King James Version (KJV). For Christmas I purchased a New Living Translation Bible for them to read together which is more understandable than the KJV. Since then she has told me on several occasions that they have enjoyed reading their new Bible together.

Additionally, outside of work I feel that I serve as a pastor when I regularly write and create content which reaches almost 5,000 people on the internet. To be a leading servant means I serve as a shepherding pastor who looks after the spiritual health of my coworkers at United Way of Stanislaus County and those I share my faith through my writing.

However, my view of pastoral ministry is affected by my view of who God is, which is what I will explain in tomorrow's post.

Question: Do you have a theology of pastoral ministry or a philisophy of work? What is it?


[1] Philip W. Comfort, Ph.D. and Walter A. Elwell, Tyndale Bible Dictionary: A comprehensive guide to the people, places, and important words of the Bible (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 1192.

[2] James A. Swanson and Keith Williams, “Dictionary and Index for Hebrew and Greek Word Studies.” in New Living Translation Study Bible (,Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 2225.

[3] Mark 6:34 (New Living Translation)

[4] 1 Peter 5:2

[5] Estrella Garcia, interview by author, Modesto, CA, June 10, 2011.