I just finished reading this book which is basically a compilation of the writings done by 19th century Baptist pastor Hezekiah Harvey. I thought it was interesting as a 21st century pastor to look at the historical view of the role of pastor. I took some notes that intrigued me and wanted to share with those who are in the pastorate, are considering it, and those who might help to hold me accountable.
In dealing with the call to serve as pastor, it is of vital importance that the “call to the pulpit” is a there. In the book it was noted that the man called to the pulpit must “feel that he ought to engage in it, and that he cannot do otherwise without guilt”.
“A pastor’s utmost wisdom and discrimination should be employed in inspiring and guiding young men to right thinking in regard to their life-mission”.
The above quote was an awesome encouragement considering that is what I feel called to do. Lead men and women to find their calling in Christ- this is true DISCIPLESHIP and ultimately is the way we bring “healing to the nations” and help men and women live ‘life to the full’.
The Freaked Out Movement, which I direct is dedicated to this very cause- helping men and women find their identity in Christ by understanding what burdens and inspires them.
“The modern pulpit, from its neglect of the Bible, is singularly narrow, exhibiting little of the vast wealth and variety of divine truth. It leaves by far the larger part of the Bible a concealed book. It’s types,, it’s poetry, its prophecies, its parables, its presentations,, as in the epistle to the Romans , of the truths of the gospel in their connection as one grand, comprehensive system of salvation- how little of all this wealth of Scripture is presented in the pulpit”.
We are in dire need of a REframation dealing with the comprehensive story of Scripture!
“The absence of knowledge even of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, on the part of many who are hurried into the church, is one of the alarming features of our times.
The lack of Biblical clarity and Biblical literacy is prevalent among so many within the church. “Growing the grace and knowledge of God” of 2 Peter chapter 1 is so important, and instead of making converts who can recite a “sinner’s prayer” we must begin to make disciples who know and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as explain them in a true and reasonable way.
As I have grown in my understanding of ‘redemptive history’, I have at times put aside the memorial understanding of the Lord’s Supper. I think Mr. Harvey explains the importance of this quite well:
“Rightly administered, the Lord’s Supper is one of the mightiest forces God has given to inspire and purify the heart and elevate the life of the church”.
“The care of the souls is the radical idea of the pastor’s office”. This is something I have begun to internalize and keep at the forefront of my work in ministry. Not the afterlife, but the souls in this life- life to the full.
I appreciated the insight of Dr. Cuyler:
“Young brethren, aim from the start to be thorough pastors. During the week go to those whom you expect to come to you on the Lord’s Day. In the morning of each day study books; in the afternoon study door-plates and human nature. Your people will give you material for your best practical sermons. After an effective Sunday work go around among your flock, as Napoleon rode over the field after a battle- to see where the shot struck and who were among the wounded”.
Dr. Taylor issued the following admonishment:
“You will make a great mistake if you undervalue the visitation of your people. The pulpit is your throne, no doubt; but then a throne is stable as it rests on the affections of the people, and to get their affections you must visit them in their dwelling”.
Getting back into the writings of Mr. Harvey, he begins to drive home what the life of ministry for a pastor should look like.
“Men differ in their characteristics and modes of working, and each pastor will ordinarily succeed best with his own model”.
I believe it to be so vitally important for a pastor to know his “hedgehog concept” so to speak. He must know what style he is utilizing for his ministry, what he is most passionate about, and where his focus needs be.
“Above all, the pastor must remember the injunction, “Instant in season, out of season”. He should make the most of opportunities. In the store, the office, and the shop, on the farm, the roadside, and the car- everywhere he is to seek to lead men to Christ”.
In our day we call this MISSIONAL! A natural outpouring of the Christian Spirit making the fruits of the Spirit not religious, but authentic. “In a minister’s life the danger is he may degenerate into mere professionalism.
“To make the social life of the church strong, healthful, enriching, such as to render it a magnet to attract other souls, is of primary moment in a pastor’s work”.
I couldn’t have said it any better myself, the only issue we face today is the “attractional model” of ‘doing church’ which seeks to make things fun and hip rather than focusing on teaching and helping foster an understanding of the contextual Biblical gospel. Utilizing Deuteronomy 4:6 helps in these regards.
Two main ways Mr. Harvey speaks about doing this are “personal effort to promote mutual acquaintances in the congregation by introducing strangers” and “social gatherings in the church”.
“One chief function of a pastor is to develop and utilize the spiritual, mental, and social forces of the church”.
“The minister is, in this respect, a general whom troops are entrusted; his work is to train and organize and lead”.
One of things we believe strongly in our church is being a “congregational led” church. This helps foster the understanding of “the priesthood of Believers” which encourages us all as disciples of Christ to play a role. “Indeed, one of the strongest bonds which bind a church together is the consciousness of being mutual workers, each having a post of duty and a share of responsibility”.
“A pastor should carefully study his people with the view of ascertaining and utilizing their special aptitudes and gifts”- This my friends is The Freaked Out Movement and should be for all Christian organizations the focus of Discipleship!
“A pastor who will constantly act on the motto, A PLACE AND A WORK FOR EVERY MEMBER, and will press this motto on those who conduct the different departments of wok in his church, will soon find himself at the head of an active, living, and ordinarily happy people, while yet his is not personally overburdened with the details of church-work”.
Many people within the Church trivialize the importance of being well educated in matters of the gospel and well as other areas- sociology, psychology, various religions and apologetics, among Biblical literacy. “Intellect is a gift of God: it is criminal to leave it undeveloped”.
“It seems to me one of the highest duties of a pastor to foster in such minds a desire and purpose for an education, and to facilitate in every possible way the attainment of that end”.
“A failure to develop his people intellectually is a discredit to any minister”.
“Cultivation of the Missionary Spirit” has got to be my favorite title of a part in Mr. Harvey’s writings, I love the eloquent way he explains the need for the church to be missional:
“The importance of a deep, all-pervading missionary spirit in the church can hardly be overrated”.
“To develop and foster a missionary spirit in the church requires, as a first necessity, the presence of such a spirit in the pastor himself”.
I know men like Alan Hirsch and Shane Claiborne would love to read that quote and say a big “Amen” for the need of church leadership to step outside the church building!
As I finished the book I took special mention and many quotes from the boom regarding the “Pastoral Study” and the “Life” of a pastor.
“The pastor’s business is to deal with the human mind and the actual experiences of men; he should therefore, go through the world with his eyes and ears open, thoroughly studying men and life around him”.
That is the missional mindset a pastor must have! Be in the places to hear about the ills of the world, offer insight when necessary, and utilize the things you might hear at “the bar” for the necessary sermons that must be preached!
Always have a book in hand and consecrate each past of the day for systematic study- awesome thins I have already had in practice!
Focusing on the ‘cares of the world’ can be the downfall of any man of God, as Mr. Harvey illustrates:
“Many a man circumscribes his own intellectual growth and pulpit power, making himself permanently a narrower and weaker man, by allowing these outside cares to destroy his process of mental discipline and growth. Here nothing will overcome but a profound conviction that study- persistent, regular, life-long study- is the solemn first duty of every man who ventures to stand up in the pulpit as an instructor of the people…the most imperative duty of him who teaches others it to teach himself”.
Hezekiah Harvey also offers various writings to read and areas such as philosophy that should enter into the pastor’s study time to time. Mr. Harvey also holds the pastor in a high regard that he himself should be a model of the things of which he teaches his congregation. I personally believe it is vital that every pastor sit down and create a short list of things he belives to be most important in the Christian life. I would personally write- understanding the contextual gospel (being able to teach it and defend it), being missional, moderation and not religiousity, and the desire to “heal the nations” by way of the gospel.
At the end of the book, Mr. Harvey includes a quote from the Pilgrim’s Progress which I believe would make a great motto for the Christian pastor:
“he, had eyes lifted up to heaven, the best of books in his hand, the law of truth was written upon his lips, the world was behind his back; he stood as if he pleaded with men, and a crown of gold did hand over his head”.
The pastor must have the view of his ministry as “a solemn duty he owes his God, his people, and himself, or he will fail”.
I hope these quotes and notes may inspire you.
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano