Happenings

Bishop: Pastors should be honest in message, methods and motives

Jan 2004    

ORDINATION SERVICE OF 28th SESSION OF CHINESE ANNUAL CONFERENCE


PORTRAITS OF A PASTOR

The pastor called by God should be a Trustworthy Steward, like a Tender Mother and a Teaching Father

The laying of hands on the Rev Wong Yeow Lin, who was ordained as an Elder by Bishop Dr Robert Solomon (standing, second from left). With him are, from left, Bishop Emeritus Wong Kiam Thau, the Rev Khoo Cheng Hoot, the Rev See Ping Eik, and the Rev Goh Aik Hiang. Kneeling with the Rev Wong are, from left, the Rev Philip Lim Kian Leong and the Rev Poh Heow Lee. -- CAC picture by BERNARD NG of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church.

THE pastor called by God should be a Trustworthy Steward of the Word of God who sincerely preaches the Gospel without distortion, uses honest methods in his communication and ministry, and is driven by sincere and godly motives. He should be honest in his message, methods and motives.

The pastor should also be like a Tender Mother and a Teaching Father. These are the three portraits of a pastor as painted by Paul in 1 Thess. 2:1-12..

Stating this in his sermon at the Ordination-cum-Closing Service of the 28th Session of the Chinese Annual Conference at Sengkang Methodist Church on Nov 13, 2003, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon told the five ordinands and the congregation that as a Trustworthy Steward, a pastor’s message, methods and motives are all characterised by integrity..

The pastor is also like “a Tender Mother whose ministry to his flock is characterised by love and is done with personal involvement and interest”. .

“And he is also like a Teaching Father who models Christian discipleship and motivates his flock by teaching them to live lives worthy of God,” he added..

He said that popular models of ministry which portray pastoring as salesmanship, or professional care-giving orCEOship pale in comparison to these rich biblical portrayals of pastoral ministry. The church would be all the poorer if it abandons these biblical models for cheap and untested alternatives..

The ordained ministry in the Methodist Book of Discipline is described as the ministry of Word, Sacrament and Order. .

Not one to mince his words, Bishop Dr Solomon said: “As ministers of the Word, pastors must be trustworthy stewards who divide the Word of God correctly. They must not distort or dilute the message of the Gospel. They must examine their motives and methods and keep them in line with the demands of their calling. They must do away with slipshod work and laziness. They must be serious in their preaching. They must feed the flock. .

“As stewards, we are accountable to God. Integrity is more than not being deceitful or slipshod. It means doing everything ‘heartily as unto the Lord’ (Col. 3:23).

“As ministers of the sacraments, pastors must go beyond professional duties to being like tender mothers caring for their children. They must love their flocks and care for them, even to the point of depriving themselves of personal comfort because they love their flocks and care for their well-being. They must do their ministry not from the distance but be incarnational, sharing their very lives with their flocks..

 

“As ministers of order, pastors must exercise pastoral leadership, leading not just with the exhortation of their words, but also with the example of their lives … Pastors must also motivate their flocks to follow Christ and to live lives worthy of God. Their leadership must be exercised through personal involvement in the lives of their flocks. They must earn the respect of their flocks in the way they conduct themselves. They must lead their flocks.”.

Bishop Dr Solomon stressed that pastoral ministry is more than a profession. It is more than a job. It calls for total commitment and dedication. .

He said: “It is unfortunate today that the Gospel is too often preached in a distorted and unrecognisable form. .

Instead of speaking about sin and death which the Gospel essentially addresses, many evangelists today preach about the comfortable life. Their message is not meant for sinners in need of repentance and forgiveness, but consumers who are looking for cheap substitutes of the abundant life which the Gospel promises. The health and wealth gospel is a good example of such distortions of the Gospel..

“Preachers are also increasingly abandoning preaching the word of God … They waste golden opportunities at the pulpit by telling stories to entertain the crowd and spewing out the latest ideas in popular psychology or self-improvement movements. .

“Pastors are also increasingly falling prey to the seductions of stage performers, embracing their salesman techniques. In the end they make a mockery of the word of God and of the Gospel of Christ. They offer cheap trinkets for spiritual tourists instead of offering living water for spiritual pilgrims..

“We must heed what Paul is saying here and avoid these disastrous errors and mistakes in the church and in our ministries.”.

Bishop Dr Solomon said that too much of slick salesmanship is seen today in the presentation of the Gospel. Preachers put the central demands of the Gospel in the fine print and sell the marginal aspects of the Gospel as the core product. Manipulative techniques are employed to move people to respond to the Gospel superficially and temporarily. .

A lot of effort and money is employed in creating the “right” environment and atmosphere and not enough on the right message. Some preachers also become unethical in their preaching. They copy other people’s sermons lock stock and barrel without acknowledgement..

“It is sad that today there are too many examples of people in the ministry who openly show their greed. TV evangelists have been notorious for this. Others would not do ministry unless they are paid well. There are international speakers who would not accept speaking engagements unless you fly them business class. There are those who would not counsel unless you pay them the fees. .

“The pastor called by God should be different. He should be a trustworthy steward who sincerely preaches the Gospel without distortion, uses honest methods in his communication and ministry and is driven by sincere and godly motives. He should be honest in his message, methods and motives.”.

“This is indeed a high calling. Who can measure up to these high standards? I believe no one. And that is why we need to come to the feet of God to empty ourselves of all our imagined abilities, skills, maturity and spirituality. Without God’s Spirit enabling us, working in us, and transforming us, we would be fools to attempt to do this in our own strength and wisdom.”.

Bishop Dr Solomon urged the ordinands to “come to God to offer yourselves unreservedly to God”. .

“Be filled with His Spirit. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Otherwise all this is futile. For the others in the ordained ministry, let us remember the high standards of the pastoral ministry. If we have slipped, let us repent. Let us do away with half-hearted ministry, laziness, lack of commitment, lack of discipline, seriousness, and love. Let us bring back the standards and the dignity of pastoral office. Let us be trustworthy, tender and exemplary in our ministries.”.

He also exhorted the lay people, to examine the standards of their discipleship and ministry..

“The pew is not excused from standards expected of the pulpit. By your commitment to God, encourage your pastors to excel in their ministry. And let us all seek to please God our Father,” he concluded.

QUOTES:

‘It is unfortunate today that the Gospel is too often preached in a distorted and unrecognisable form …The health and wealth gospel is a good example of such distortions of the Gospel.

Pastors are also increasingly falling prey to the seductions of stage performers, embracing their salesman techniques. In the end they make a mockery of the word of God and of the Gospel of Christ.’
By PETER TEO

The CAC ordinands, from left, the Rev Wong Yeow Lin, the Rev Poh Heow Lee, and the Rev Philip Lim, who were ordained as Elders, the Rev Daniel Lim Ah Heng and the Rev Ng Beng Keow (Deacons). -- CAC picture by BILLY KON of Bukit Panjang Methodist Church.

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