I have been so challenged to read Terry Virgo's latest blog post (HT: Life on Wings), entitled Spirit Inspired Preaching. As a pastor, I have a burden to see the church built - for people to be saved and added to the local church, but also for them to grow in maturity, in love for Jesus, in passionate worship, in joyful service. I long for the church to display the glory of Christ to the surrounding area, even to the nations.
Indeed our church's vision statement is "To see the glory of God in the transformation of lives, of the community and of the nations through the Gospel of Jesus Christ." I know the Lord desires transformed hearts, leading to transformed lives, and I know that as pastor I am called to see the church grow. Yet I don't want to see the church grow by human means. Churches can grow through the force of a leader's personality, or through the eloquence of their preaching, or (sadly) through the application of rules and regulations that people follow thinking that they are pleasing God.
Terry gives a very different view:
"Holy Spirit-inspired preaching brings about an encounter with God that demands a verdict and produces a changed life based on revelation, faith and love, not cold obedience to external rules."
"God’s flock will intuitively hear His voice and respond as truth is fed to them by called and anointed pastor/teachers. Gradually a culture of God-centredness will emerge characterised by worship, faith, grace, mercy, respect, service and the awareness of being an alien people whose fundamental citizenship lies elsewhere (Phi. 3:20)."
The amazing key here is the anointing of God. I believe it was Rob Rufus who said that "God hides His power in His presence". Ern Baxter reminds us that the Glory-Cloud speaks of the presence of the Holy Spirit. So the key to church growth is for me, as a pastor, to be in His presence. That's not a legalistic thing - I can't earn the favour of God as I already have it in Christ - it is simply a statement of reality. God's presence is the place to be - to bask there and drink in the anointing and under that anointing to share with the people so that they "intuitively hear His voice and respond as truth is fed".
Terry goes on to add:
"The shepherd’s ability to feed and be a channel of God’s grace will result in the gathering of a flock. The sheep gather to the gifted anointing of shepherding and thus a flock forms."
If a shepherd is anointed by the Lord, and is a channel of God's grace - then the sheep will gather. They won't have to be beaten into submission by a legalistic declaration that "you must be at every service." Rather they will gather to feed, because God is speaking through the anointed pastor.
That is the kind of pastor I want to be. As Terry concludes:
"God has promised ‘shepherds after his own heart’. May we be the fulfilment of that promise."