Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"The Small Church Pastor" by Shane C. Montgomery

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

" For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."        Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)

What is the criteria for handling God's Holy Word?  How much training is required before a man can expound God's Will?  

Does a man have to graduate seminary or Bible College?  If so, what ones are acceptable?  Is the simple, New Testament calling of man to be a minister of God's Word enough in this modern, educated world?   Are His thoughts really beyond our reach and understanding, does He reveal enough to His ministers for them to function and serve Him correctly.  Or is His Thoughts and Ways only granted to those famous, big time pastors with large ministries in states where it never snows?  Does God withhold information about Himself and His Will for us to a select few big time pastors and ministries?  What about the small church pastors?  Are they relevant today?  Are they needed or can they be replaced by better, well known pastors. Should we close any church that has under 500 members?   100 members?  Round up all the members of these struggling churches and put them all into the nearest Mega Church?   I mean, those churches are huge and have tons of money, they must be doing God's Will better than the small churches, right?  They are the first ones to tell you God has blessed them for doing things His way and hence forth, they are rich!   Makes sense right?

  Today we have truckloads of sound, well educated, well prepared preachers and pastors who work themselves to the point of exhaustion in their duties as pastors and teachers, it is true.  These men often times serve their entire lives with little or no fanfare, making just enough money in their small churches to support their families, ....maybe,  while other men of equal, or less expertise are constantly in the headlines, are living a life of notoriety, are raking in tons of money from their large, well known ministries, their dozens of books, (most times these books are the same book, just slightly rearranged) everyone in that denomination knows of these men, everyone quotes them on Facebook and in their bloggs.  Everyone owns at least a couple of this man's books, yet the small church pastor spends his life unknown, the small church pastor works everyday and most nights, his days are spent counseling the poor and needy, feeding the poor and needy, teaching those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, he spends his nights on the phone listening to a wife who is at her wits end because her husband has beat her half to death once again, or a husband who does not know where to turn next now that he lost his job.   The small church pastor does not spend his nights in a luxury hotel in a different city every few nights, he is either in his home in study or in another's home listening and praying with the elderly, the sick, the poor, the hungry, the dieing.  He is in the nursing homes, holding his breath as he walks the halls, hoping, praying that the elderly man at the end of the hall, the one who is always grumpy, and who never wants to hear about Christ, well, the small church pastor is hoping he made it through the night and he has another shot at breaking through his heart of stone with the Gospel hammer, just let this man be regenerated before he dies!

  The small church pastor knows nothing of book signings, he knows nothing of being interviewed on TV, radio or in the hot podcast that are on the internet, you will not hear his name mentioned on "The White Horse Inn."   The famous pastor, MR. Big Time has a army of people sending out mailings, emails and phone calls to the public asking for money to help their ministries, they tell you how much good their ministry is doing for the world, without their ministry, well, the world will never know the Gospel, so send money or you are letting Satan, and the Terrorist win!  The small church pastor gets dozens of these mailing everyday, the famous pastor has his picture on the front of the mailing, all smiles in his expensive suit and his gold watch shining in the flash of the camera.   The famous pastor tells the small church pastor that he needs to send $100 to him and his ministry so he can help spread the Gospel.  The small church pastor just laughs, if he only had $100 to his name, he would probably give half of it to the family who he just left  who has a terminally ill child and no food in the house, they are about to be evicted from their house because the father was recently laid off due to the slow economy, yeah, the small church pastors heart breaks because he cannot help this family more, he took them some food, now he has even less to feed his family.  He sat and listened to this family, what could he say?  What advice could he give to this family to make things better?   He listened and he prayed with them.   He gave what he could.  Now he is back home, he wonders if this big time pastor has lost all touch of reality, and what would happen if he sit down and wrote a letter on his churches stationary and asked MR.Big Time pastor for money to help his ministry, would he send any?   Yeah right!  He has to laugh at the thought. But now he has to get his sermon ready for the upcoming Lord's Day and shovel the sidewalks at the church, there is no money for a maintenance man, the pastor is the maintenance man, janitor, grounds keeper, book keeper, etc. the forecast calls for more snow and ice on top of the 8" already on the ground, so he knows this Sunday's service will be mostly empty pews.  Summer is one thing, most people come in warm weather, but when you have so many elderly, they fear the snow and ice, and who can blame them, if the tempts would just warm up and the snow would stop for awhile, then he can preach to all or most of his flock again.  

  The small church pastor wonders if maybe he should apply for a pastorate at a bigger church, one that pays better, one that has more people in the pews to hear God's message.  Those big churches have cool youth groups, they have game rooms, lounges galore, two kitchens and a gym, an auditorium, they have dozens of vans and buses, they have money, tons of money, how much good they must do with all that money!   Then he realizes, he never sees them doing anything outside their church, sure, they take trips where the pastor and a few members go to the Bahamas and do outreach in the summer and in the winter they do outreach in Hawaii, but he never, ever sees them doing anything in town.  Why not?   The members of that church have money, but only at that church and a few others, all large and looking more like a palace or a shopping mall than a church, the other churches have poor members, very, very poor members.  They cannot afford to buy plane tickets to Hawaii to paint a dilapidated church or to fly to the Bahamas to build a new playground.  They do not have money to eat on, let alone take a trip to paradise to spend a few days working and then call themselves "Missionaries" and come back wearing matching T-shirts that boast of their great works.

   No, the small church pastors members cannot even tithe most Sundays.   They feel bad about it, but there is just no money, so the pastor pays the vast majority of the bills and all the supplies. The pastor works full time at another job to pay these bills and sometimes he works nights at other work if he can make money for outreach or for church supplies.  The pastor is just thankful the church has stayed open this long.

  The phone rings in the middle of going over commentaries,wanting to get a better grasp of this one verse that he knows he is not quite nailing down right.  The phone rings again and the pastor makes his way to the phone and passes the garbage can in the kitchen, he answer the phone and it is his neighbor from up the street a ways, who goes to another church, a Charismatic to boot you know!  But he loves them all the same, they have a situation, it seems the husband had another heart attack and he is in the E.R., could he go down to the hospital and pray for him?

  "Sure, I will be there in 15 minutes, I am sorry this happened again. Have faith that God will do what is best for Him and your family and let us know if we can do anything."  The pastor's wife begins to make a dinner for their neighbors,(she works full time as well)  she knows they do not have the mindset to cook right now. They will take them food for the next several weeks and shovel their walk and take out their trash while he is  laid up, but they will not step foot into your small church, never. They will brag about how great their church is while you help them, they will brag on their pastor after you pray with them and they will praise their churches outreach while you feed them, their church is no where in site, their pastor has not once been to their house, and you feel sorry for them.  Why?  You just do...

  It is now past midnight and the small church pastor is just getting to bed, he has prayed prior to retiring for the night, but yet he finds himself still praying, he cannot stop praying long enough to go to sleep, you see, his mind is overrun with the lost, so many lost souls, so many  souls who claim Christ but live like the world.  These souls, haunt him at night, sleep will not come for another two or three hours.  He thinks, tomorrow is Saturday, he will not have to work his full time job tomorrow,  "I have to get some rest, six of us will be out in the cold all day tomorrow handing out tracts and taking sack lunches door to door in the government subsidized apartment buildings", they will feed lunch to over 250 people tomorrow and share the Gospel with most of these, those who will hear them out, they will give out dozens of Bibles that they cannot afford to replace, but so what, he will worry about buying new Bibles later, they will pray with dozens of people and listen to their sufferings and hardships, he will cry more than a few times with these people and he will cry once again as he lays in bed later that night while he thinks of those people who have lost all joy, all hope, those people who are more dead than alive, if only he could do more......then the small church pastor thinks about the famous pastor with the large ministry, the one in the state with all the beaches and warm weather, the one who is on TV, the one who sells his own magazine and DVDs, the one who sells all those books, he thinks of him and he wonders, how was his day?  If only the small church pastor had his money, oh, the things he could do, the people he could feed, the medicine he could buy for the sick.  The rent he could pay to house a poor family for another month.  The Bibles he could buy and distribute for free.

.....and as he finally drifts off to sleep, his conscience rebukes him for asking that question, for feeling sorry for himself, for being mad at the wealthy pastor, his conscience rebukes him for coveting the life of a empty man, a empty ministry, when God has blessed him and his ministry so much, the big time pastor might sell books and drive a nice car, or cars, but God picked the small church pastor to serve Him, to be a minister of His Word to people who need Christ so much, God raised the small church pastor and made him tough as nails, made him to run on pure will power, little food and no sleep.  God blessed the small church pastor and it's outreach team, all six of them, by allowing them to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most, to the meek, the poor, the sick, the elderly, the stubborn, the grumpy.  God gave this pastor a flock that wants and desires the meat of the Word and not the sweet milk. A flock that will not stand for anything short of God's Truth! A flock that could care less about be entertained during worship.  God gave this man a small flock who loves Christ and who love to serve Him.  God gave this pastor little money, but never lets him go hungry, or his family,  God gave this man a purpose in life outside of the vanity of fame and wealth. God gave this small church pastor so much more, God gave this man a commission to preach His Word!  God called this pastor, and He called him to serve a purpose and to perform a duty. God blessed him with a flock who loves, who love God and Neighbor, God gave this man a small flock, poor in wealth and health but rich in servanthood, rich in mercy, all with hearts full of Christ.  God made them to be spent entirely in His service.

  God blessed this small church pastor with the resources to learn, the ability to discern truth from heresy, the ability to learn fast, the patience to keep at his study no matter what.  God blessed this pastor with a strong desire to share the Gospel with everyone, to show the love of Christ. God blessed this pastor with two sons who love God as much as he does, if not more, two sons who sacrifice their time and energy in serving the poor and the lost. Two sons who stand beside their earthly father in service to their Heavenly Father. God raised this pastor up to be bold, to be brave, to fear no man but to fear God only.  God raised this pastor to fill the pulpit instead of the pews!  God raised this pastor to bravely proclaim God's Word and to do so without fear of offending or upsetting the unregenerate. God raise this pastor up to show Christ, to show the Spirit dwelling in him and his flock.

  This pastor still remembers the first time he encountered the love of Christ, how wonderful it was, and he is still determined that he share this with as many people as he can. Christ showed him vast love and endless mercy at a time when this pastor deserved to be put to death, both in this world and in the next. But Christ saved him, Christ raised him, commissioned him, gave him a duty and a purpose, Christ makes him to repent. This is what love looks like. This is the love of Christ.   This love of Christ is to great to hoard, it must be shared!  To be forgiven of sins, to be pardoned!  To know you are loved when you do not deserve love, wow!  This news must be spread. God has blessed this unknown pastor with a desire to preach nothing but the truth of God's Word, as best he can, because he knows that lies and flatteries will do his flock no good, he knows that only the truth of God's Will as stated in Scripture can save and regenerate.  Even though it is hard to hear the Will of God at times, even the hard parts of God's Word are better than Hell. Even the hard verses to preach must be preached!  Even the verse that people ignore, must be preached.  He knows that only by preaching the entire counsel of God's Will can any of us grow and mature, to become holy, because one of the pastor's duties is not to raise money to go on trips, and to build bigger buildings, or to write books that will sell in the millions,  but his purpose is to Glorify God and to prepare his flock for Heaven, to make them holy in an unholy world.

  This is no easy job, this duty will not make you rich, it will not make you famous, it will not get you on podcasts or radio, but it will get you one thing, one thing that is priceless, the small pastor will have his flock, his people that he has preached to and not at, Sunday after Sunday, he will have them with him in Heaven, worshiping and praising God for all eternity, and the small church pastor finally falls asleep, content in his role in life, in his role in God's Will and as he drifts off to dreamland he mouths the words, "Spend me Lord, Spend all of me!"

Dear Reader, please do not think me envious, neither think me angry at God or the world for my position, for just the opposite is true, I am blessed, and I am blessed because I am being used by God,.....and who can ever asks for anything more than that?

Be Holy!
Shane C. Montgomery


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