Monday, January 11, 2010

Am I a Believer or Disciple

I recently had a chat with a pastor regarding the above, specifically the difference between being a Christian believer and being a disciple of Christ. What I learned from that and from listening to some recorded sermons on this has been enlightening. To become a saved member of the Christian church simply requires belief in Christ. Now this belief is more than head knowledge; the demons know Christ is the Son of God. So then, what does saving faith look like, and what is the difference between that and being a disciple? This will take time to cover completely, so I likely will address it in pieces. This is important to consider because it seems to me that some of my Christian brethren are rejecting the idea that someone can be saved if they still have sin in their lives. For me, I assumed that all should desire to become disciples of Christ, making sacrifices along the way throughout our lives while seeking to grow more close to Christ. Sadly, this is not always the case. In the past, I have always interpreted the believe phrase in John 3:16 to include follow. I now realize that for some, that does not enter into the picture.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pastors spending time

Having recently read Eugene Peterson's book "The Contemplative Pastor", I have been wondering, although I am not a pastor, about how Godly men spend time. This is an excellent read for someone who thinks that he might be called to ministry, to help him discern how to spend time and what is important. I confess that for me, in at least one sense, this is a slightly easier process, since I do not have children. Still, for the average Christian, this is a difficult situation. One has to keep Christ at the center while trying to manage many facets of life in a society that is increasingly faster paced. Whether or not this is correct will be another blog later.

Now, for the pastor or minister, this is an even more difficult problem. It really seems to be the case that a pastor ought to be spending substantial time in The Word, reading, contemplating, praying, and trying to hear Him through all the noise in our lives. However, church leaders are increasingly pressured to be doing other things, related to their local church, that take away from the time mentioned above. A pastor does need to be a shepherd to the flock, to protect them from the wolves. What is the right balance for this? Inevitably demands of the world and family sometimes seemingly conflict with those of God and the local and global church. This gets even more difficult for bi-vocational pastors, those with a full time job that are also pastors.

What is the answer? I see it like this. A preacher does need to spend time in the word; those that I've talked to or listened to suggest that 30 hours a week in study, contemplation, prayer, and sermon prep is about the norm for a week in which one is going to deliver a sermon or message. So then, what does that mean? Well, in a larger church, this is easy; there will be associate pastors and other administrative staffers to handle much of the busyness that occurs on a daily basis. In a smaller church, this is much more difficult; help is required. Laymen have to get off the sidelines and be willing to assist in some ways, as opposed to simply sitting there as consumers, warming pews or chairs.