A while back a lady went into the hospital for a few days. While she was there, a local elder, deacon and an elderly lady came to visit her. However she was released from the hospital before the Senior or Associate pastors of the church could come see her. After her release, she mentioned to me that none of the pastors had come to see her in the hospital. I corrected her, and told her that three pastors came to see her. According to 1 Peter 2:9 the local elder, deacon and elderly lady are all pastors.
The New Testament church was an active church with everyone pastoring and evangelizing. In Acts 8, Philip, a deacon, is evangelizing and baptizing. In Acts 7, we see Stephen, another deacon, being stoned to death – and it wasn’t for taking up the offering or adjusting the Sabbath School classroom thermostat. No, he was stoned to death for preaching the gospel! Wait a minute. I thought preaching was the pastor’s job? Not in the New Testament church! In the New Testament church all the members were ministering and evangelizing.
In the Dark Ages a wide separation was made between the clergy and the laity but that was not the biblical design. As we progress out of the Dark Ages the gap between clergy and laity must be narrowed, in order to get back to being a remnant of the New Testament model church.
Over 20 years ago I moved to Texas to be a Bible Worker. The church had thousands of Bible study lead cards that needed to be mailed out. The pastor asked a lady in our church if she could take them to the post office to be mailed. She responded, “Well if I do that, then what is William going to do?” She felt that since I was the paid “Bible Worker,” I should be doing all the work and should mail them myself. Wrong! Fact is, if I am doing all the work, then I am not doing my job.
My job, along with the pastor’s job is to equip and empower the laity to do evangelism. If I go by myself to give a Bible study, then shame on me! I should always bring another church member with me so they can learn how to give Bible studies and also to bond with the student and be another link to the church family. As well as giving Bible studies I also teach people how to chain reference their Bibles, to give presentations and get decisions for Jesus. I have also been teaching a Bible marking class at Tampa Adventist Academy, where young people are learning how to share Jesus. At the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church our young people and lay members have been empowered to speak at our evangelism meetings and to lead out in seminars. We also have several growth-group Bible studies, and the associate pastor and I are training and mentoring lay members to take over and lead out in these groups. In the Plant City Seventh-day Adventist Church, where I also serve as a Bible Worker, we have lay members leading out in small-group Bible studies. Non-churched people who have yet to step inside a regular church are coming to these small-group Bible studies. A small study group is a church within itself. Remember, in New Testament times, churches were in people’s homes. The non-churched small-group Bible study members see those who come to the home of the Bible study leaders as their church family, and they see the Bible study leaders as their pastors. Remember that “pastor” is also a verb and not just a noun. Whoever you are, if you are caring and nurturing others then you are pastoring.
If pastors or Bible workers think of themselves as the ones who are to do all of the preaching and evangelizing, then they are not biblical but are stuck in the Dark Ages. Very few pastors today still want to create a huge gap between pastors and laity, while more and more pastors are like Moses, when he said, “would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!” Numbers 11:29 With this spirit upon our paid clergy, the gospel can spread like wildfire and turn the world upside down, just like it did in the book of Acts when every member was an evangelist! Please keep in mind that if the pastor or Bible worker are doing all of the preaching and teaching, then they are not doing their job. You know the pastor and Bible worker are doing their jobs when they call you and give you work to do!