Editor's Note: This is one of a continuing series of stories on pastor's tools from Ministry Today magazine's special May/June issue, MinistryToday 21.
What does it take to run a church today? The pastor just starting out in ministry may be surprised by the answer. While it's important to keep kingdom purposes at the forefront, experienced church leaders have found that a pastor's toolkit consists of many instruments that are helpful in doing the work of the ministry today.
We have pooled some of our own talent to answer that question and have asked a number of businesses to give their take on what 21 tools the pastor needs to know are available for meeting today's congregational needs.
We love our dogs, right? I mean there is very little they are left out of. They come to restaurants with us, travel in cute bags on planes and even are often propped up as members of the family in the annual Christmas photo. We are a nation that has elevated the status of the dog (and in some respects all pets) to heights rarely seen. The accoutrements that our furry friends have become accustomed to are almost human. I must confess I never grew up with a dog, and so my love for them, while present, has yet to become full grown.
I wonder though, has the dog always enjoyed such high stature? I mean the world of Scripture does not know this kind of love for the dog often referred to as "man's best friend." The apostle Paul refers to those that were false teachers in the letter to the Philippian church as none other than "dogs"! Surprising, right? These are not the kind that can be controlled by the Dog Whisperer.
It is these types of dogs that we must be vigilant against and cannot take into our homes or our churches as friends. In the wake of new gospels of grace, evolving views on sexuality and other teachings or new doctrines that go beyond the confines of revealed truth, we too must watch out! These are they that lead us away from the teachings of Jesus in exchange for something that is pitched as something greater or a newer revelation/understanding, and while it tickles our ears like the licking of a dog, it leads us away from the gospel of Christ, and the freedom that only it can bring.
In Psalm 22, David with prophetic eyes and a prolific pen takes us to Calvary, and in verse 16, he gives us a glimpse into the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus is arrested, after being kissed or licked by another dog, Judas! David is possibly describing his own experience, but with striking detail, records the exact happenings as they are told in the Gospels as it relates to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. The Modern English Version (MEV) tells us they "encompassed" him and the go on to pin his hands and feet, what familiar imagery and this was possibly a thousand years before the cross! This is also the intent of the false teachers in Paul's day, and it is so in ours. They surround us on every side. Isn't that true? It seems we can't go a week without some new leader or church group "evolving" or rethinking those teachings that the Bible is clear. They wish to pin us down with their teaching with the intent to remove or add to that which has already been completed. Christ's work is finished, and thank God! No new teaching or revelation will give us greater freedom than that found in the gospel. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to live out the miracle of new life Christ made possible and to empower us to preach the gospel, working miracles through us and raising the dead to life!
So pastor, arm yourself in this hour with the Word, let it "dwell in you richly" as it is your truly your "best friend." The dogs appear to captivate imaginations and attempt to lead us and our people away from the doctrines/teachings, which have been treasured and passed down through the years. God's Word is the tool you need to combat the barrage of falsehood being thrown at you and your congregation. It what Jesus used when the devil approached Him, and it is what you and your congregation need when he, through people, approaches you.
We have more access to the Scriptures than ever before. We live in the day of YouVersion, BibleGateway, Olive Tree and others. Additionally, there are lots of great translations to help you and your people understand God's Word in fresh and new ways. I am presently using the MEV and I consult other texts for greater clarity such as the English Standard Version, the New American Standard Bible and the King James Version. We have no excuse. We must get in the Word, and get the Word into us and those under our care.
Our dogs make for great pets, but these "dogs" that are hungry strays are not to be taken in under any circumstances! We must not act as if they are coming; they are here! I plead with you, as I plead with myself—let's arm ourselves with the Word and defend our precious, blood-stained doctrines. I leave you with the words of Paul to Timothy found in 1 Timothy 4:16: "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you."
Jason McMullen is publishing director of the Modern English Version and director of ministry services for Charisma Media.
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