A Call to Prayer

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David Bahn-Reflections Podcast

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:2-6 [ESV]

Pastors & Spouses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania – East of Lake Victoria Diocese | Bishop Gulle, Center, | Geita, Tanzania | November 2021

Diane and I will be in Tanzania teaching pastors and their spouses about Leading Change for the Sake of God’s Mission. We expect about 100 people to be in attendance and look forward to sharing insights we have learned and which will help the church there remain faithful to God’s mission while not holding to unnecessary and unhelpful traditions or practices. We’re not there to tell them what they must change, or to recommend any specific changes. But we are there to help them to prioritize their efforts.

A recent email from our PLI International Executive Director included some important ideas. The quote is somewhat lengthy, but well put.

The three most important activities and behaviors of a pastor that contribute to growth, and are consistent with God’s Mission, and SHOULD BE where the first and greatest portion of time is given by the pastor, are:
  • Evangelism (personally reaching out to those who do not believe or who are outside of the church – NOT just their preaching from the pulpit)
  • Discipleship (personally helping some who believe to grow in and become more and more like Christ – the pastor cannot personally disciple all of the members)
  • Leadership Development (consistently developing some others to be disciple-makers and leaders who influence other for the sake of the mission)
These three are consistent with the Mission of God and the ministry priorities of Christ, and bear the greatest fruit for the Kingdom.  The FIRST portion of a pastor’s time should be set aside for these three activities, and everything else the pastor does is done with the time that is left over.
 
HOWEVER, usually, it is just the opposite.  The pastor’s time is given to everything else, and then these are the three things pastors MIGHT DO with whatever time is leftover.
 
None of those you train will argue against these things being the best and most important things for a pastor to do since they are the most helpful things to do in order to accomplish the mission of MAKING DISCIPLES.  But, they will acknowledge how difficult it is to make these three things their first priority. They may even say: “I don’t have time to make disciples (evangelism and discipleship) because I am too busy at or with the church!”  Then we say: “Think about that. How has it become possible that we as pastors are too busy for disciple making when that is the MISSION of the church?” Give them time to let that question sink in!
 
Even though this creates a challenging conversation, all those we are training are both challenged AND INSPIRED by the conversation around this.  We recommend that they not only end their week of Year Two training thinking about the things that need to change AT THEIR CHURCHES, but that they begin to think about the change they can make in THEIR OWN LIVES AND MINISTRY LEADERSHIP in order for these three things to have a greater and greater portion of their time and energy. – Rev. Dr. Scott Reiche, Executive Leader, PLI International
 
This is nothing unique to Tanzanian pastors. It’s a daily challenge to all pastors. While we may think our churches need to change in certain of their practices or activities, the first change needs to take place in our own hearts and lives.
 
Please pray for us, that we may live what we teach and practice what we preach. It’s much easier said than done. 
1 comment
  1. What a great post!
    Here is at least some of what I have heard in this post. “Pastor’s, teach/empower others to lead as their gifts are exposed to you and so that you are careful not to exchange your calling for “paperwork” or administration instead of evangelism, discipleship…” Sometimes the “paperwork” is easiest because it doesn’t talk back saying, “I am not interested, I don’t want to, I don’t like to talk about that.” The paperwork does not need a new or more delicate approach. It is simply paper and ink. Engaging in E and D can feel threatening and too difficult. Finding, noticing, developing someone’s gift and empowering them can truly make changes in a church culture, perhaps very quietly at first!

    I, being a lay person on the receiving end of this type of mentorship, cannot exclaim more passionately as to the importance of this full approach to the body of Christ through evangelism, discipleship and leadership development. Keep in mind that I am not a born leader, but I can “lead from the middle” with support and encouragement and this is a valid place to serve. We are all different with different gifts creating the whole body; head, hands, feet, arms, legs, eyes, minds and hearts all at the ready. Dear Pastors, Jesus whole story is real. Every. Single. Word. This is where the power begins or did for me.
    God Bless you, all!
    Sondra

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