Number 4, May 1998
Welcome to The Shepherd's Storehouse No.4. More than 70 pastors are now receiving this resource and we are aiming to be on the Internet in the near future! This edition includes more sermon outlines, an article about pastoral care and an update on how God is helping us at Marion.
The sermon outlines follow the sermonic process of; subject, (the sermon in one word); theme, (the sermon in one phrase); proposition, (the sermon in one sentence). Each main point needs to be explained, illustrated, applied.
The following outlines include several 'pairs' of sermons, they could be used either as a mini-series on the same day (morning and night), or over two consectutive Sundays. I am presently preaching a series from the life of David and a couple of these outlines are included. May your preaching be filled with the Word and filled with the Spirit.
[Each of these points can be developed as a contrast between Saul and David]
If we care for the people God has given us, then God will give us more people to care for ! Paul commissioned the elders at Ephesus to tend and feed and guide the church (Acts 20:28). Preaching and teaching are important public ministries of every pastor. But equally important are the not so glamorous ministries of pastoring, caring and visiting. Growing churches are always effective in the area of pastoral care. The following practical strategies may help to raise your level of pastoral care. If you tend the ones He has given you, He will send you more.
Jesus told the story of shepherd with 100 sheep in his care. On one occasion, a sheep went missing. But how did the shepherd know ? Was it a word of knowledge ? Did he dream that one was missing ? One can only presume that each evening as he stood at the door of the fold, the shepherd counted his sheep. By maintaining an accurate attendance record, pastors will always know who is present, who is absent, and how many weeks they have missed.
One of the first pastoral tasks at Marion City Church was to construct the attendance record. We immediately identified around 20 fringe people. Knowing who they were enabled us to care for them. Now they are no longer fringe people, they are an active part of the family. The attendance record identifies absentees. Our policy at Marion is for all absentees to receive a friendly letter along with a copy of the weekly newsletter through the mail. Two week absentees receive a pastoral call. The attendance record helps us identify who needs a telephone call, a letter or a visit.
It is good for 2-3 people to mark the attendance record as no one person is able to identify everyone who is present. This should be done discretely as most people do not like to know they are being checked up on. The roll needs to be reviewed quarterly with new names added and lapsed members deleted. At Marion we keep a separate page for new names, and another page for past attendees. When newcomers attend or return for three concurrent weeks, their names are added to the church family pages.
The attendance record serves another major purpose. It becomes the pastor's prayer list. In smaller churches, it is quite feasible for a pastor to mention in prayer the name of every person in their care. Be assured, God answers prayer, and He particularly hears the prayers of shepherds for their flock. When pastors speak to God about the people God has given them, God speaks to pastors about the people in their care. I challenge you pastor, start praying every day for your people and see the difference !
There is an extra blessing to keeping the attendance roll and praying for your people. You will remember their names ! In a de-personalised world, to call someone by their name demonstrates their value and importance.
Having constructed the attendance record, the next step is to identify the people in
your church family. The following system is as easy as ABC. These letters represent these
groups of people...
(C) saved contacts;
(D) unsaved contacts;
Using this method to identify each person in your church family will provide an accurate and informative assesment of the health of the church.
Pastors must care for the members (A) and adherents (B). If they are sick, they must be visited. Follow up on their absenteeism, care for them, know their names and the names of their children. These people are the heart of the church and they have high priority. But growth comes from the next two categories. Congregations expand as saved (C) and unsaved contacts (D) become members and adherents. Shepherds attract sheep, they fold the wanderers (C). Shepherds assist in the birth of lambs (D).
Set a goal of making a certain number of visits per week. Evenly divide this number between members and adherents (A B) and saved and unsaved contacts (C D). If you visit a person in their house, they are more likely to visit the House of the Lord. A new couple visited Marion. They were added to our church attendance record and identified as category (C). I went to visit them and was amazed at their response, "We have been Christians for more than 20 years and you are the first pastor to visit our home !" They attend every week now, along with home fellowships and prayer meetings. May God revive the lost art of pastoral visitation.
If your schedule is too busy for you to make pastoral visits, then you may be too busy. At least 'let your fingers do the walking'. In fact, why don't you spend 30 minutes on Friday or Saturday making a minimum of 3 telephone calls. Ask yourself, "Who can I invite to come this Sunday?"
Yes, you are correct, pastoral ministry is hard work ! But it is very effective and very rewarding work. The metaphors that describe pastor in 2 Timothy include "a good soldier who endures hardness" (vs3), "the hardworking farmer" (vs6), and "a workman who does his best" (vs15). There are no instant churches, they grow through good pastoring. There are no short cuts to lasting growth, for we have the task of building people and churches not just attracting crowds.
But what is the role of the Holy Spirit in all this ? Some people advocate trusting the Spirit alone and consider such practical strategies as being of little value. But the Holy Spirit works alongside the pastor. He possesses all the creative genius of the Godhead and desires to inspire, empower, and motivate so that our pastoral ministry is effective. If you seek His help, He will provide practical tools to equip you for the task in your location.
God is helping us at Marion City Church. Our church family is growing as we now minister to around 180 people. The highlight last month was a baptismal service with 7 people being baptised and a record night congregation of 163. We have been praying for souls to be saved, families to be added, labourers to be brought in, and wanderers to find a home. God has been answering our prayers. Just about all the departments of the church are going well. Please note the new postal address below.
Since our last Storehouse, we visited Sydney for the wedding of our son John to Nicole Persal. It was a great wedding and the reception was a feast ! John will be doing his practicum here in June. Our other son David is planning to be part of a College team to visit the Northern Territory in July. And the Lord is continuing to provide just the right part-time job for our daughter Jo. God is good ! All the time !
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