Church Life

From the Archives: What Christians Owe Their Pastors

By Roy E. Knuteson. From Baptist Bulletin (September/October 2008); used by permission. © Regular Baptist Press, all rights reserved.

Years ago a minister was called “the parson,” meaning “the person.” He was a VIP. He was honored as the preacher of the gospel, a molder of public opinion, and the conscience of the community. Not so today. A recently published survey revealed the most respected people in the average American community. Ministers ranked far down on the list, behind doctors, judges, psychologists, civic leaders, and police officers. Why?

No doubt the widespread sexual and financial scandals among members of the clergy have seriously affected the public opinion of them. Unfortunately, many pastors are mere puppets, moved by the whims of their parishioners. Some are controlled by a few strong laypeople, and others are “religious politicians” instead of prophets of God. Fortunate is the congregation whose pastor speaks “the very words of God” (NIV, 1 Peter 4:11) and diligently leads the church.

We believe that the Bible words “elder” and “bishop” refer to and include the pastor (or pastors) of a local church. Each of these titles reveals a facet of his divine calling. As an elder, he is to provide mature, responsible leadership. As the bishop, he is to be the general manager, providing careful oversight of the Lord’s work. And as the pastor, he is charged with caring for and feeding the flock of God (Acts 20:28).

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A Church Is Born

On a Sunday afternoon in January, 2009, about 80 people gathered in Asheboro, NC, to officially constitute Providence Baptist Church. The culmination of more than four years of labor and prayer, the time had come, and a host of attenders and friends joined to celebrate the joyous occasion.

Humble Beginnings

In a real sense, Providence Baptist began with Beacon Baptist, which itself was officially born on a similar occasion in 1973. Over the years, Beacon has grown numerically and doctrinally into the church we are today. Along the way, people began attending from locations beyond Alamance County. Drawn to the expository pulpit and reformed theology, some have driven regularly up to ninety miles one way to worship with us on the Lord’s Day.

Several folks came from Asheboro, about forty-five miles south of Burlington, becoming faithful members for several years in spite of the long commute. However, it is difficult to participate fully from such a distance, and how do you invite family and friends to join you when you travel forty-five to fifty minutes to church?

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Does the “Meet & Greet” Belong in Our Worship Services?

Apparently some are all “shook up” over the practice of greeting visitors during worship services. A variety of polls suggests that most visitors are extremely uncomfortable with this practice. Studies also suggest that many faithful church attendees are also uncomfortable with the practice of greeting the familiar, as well as those who may be new, in the ebb and flow of a church service.

Granted, there is clearly no Scriptural command to include a one minute and twenty-seven second opportunity in the worship service for greeting those you know or don’t know. There are a few passages though that speak to a practice of greeting one another with the “right hand of fellowship” (Galatians 2:9) and in other cases an “agape kiss” (1 Peter 5:14). However, these passages seem to simply report what was done and are not included to give a clear imperative for universal and normative church practice (though it’s enough to convince me of the benefit).

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The Original Good Samaritans

When I was a child, I enjoyed reading Highlights Magazine, a publication for children; the magazine is still flourishing in 2012. One continuous feature of Highlights is a sketch with carefully concealed objects that blend into the picture. In today’s article, I encourage you to sleuth the hidden objects common to two Bible texts.

Most Christians are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:30-35. Jesus was responding to the question, “Who is my neighbor?” by means of this story. Lois Tverberg, in her book, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, suggests this parable is based upon a passage in 2 Chronicles 28. I agree.

You remember the essentials of the parable, don’t you? A Jewish man was going toward Jericho and was accosted by robbers who left him half dead. A priest and Levite (fellow Jews) passed by and ignored this man’s plight. A man from the despised Samaritan people, however, walked by and had compassion on the man. Luke 10:34-35 reads,

He [the Samaritan] went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” (ESV)

The tradition of the Good Samaritan, however, seems to originate in an obscure passage, 2 Chronicles 28:15. The soldiers of the Northern Kingdom of Israel—Samaria—had slaughtered 120,000 Judeans and captured another 200,000 as slaves. The prophet Obed spoke a word to the Lord shaming the Samaritan Jews and admonishing them to return the captive Judeans to their homeland. Surprisingly, the people responded. As we read the response, look for evidence suggesting that the Good Samaritan parable is a midrash (elaboration) upon these historical events. See how many similarities you can note.

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