This has been a good week of development in LifePoint Church. We have received a ton of feedback on the blogs from the last few days, the majority of which has been very positive and encouraging. The traffic on 2thesource has been enormous; we’ve had over 400 people read the blog this week who have never visited it before, and well over 1000 people read the recent posts in the last three days.
Pastor Sam and I were dialoguing this morning and he brought up this text from Acts 20:28:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
The context of this verse is the Apostle Paul, in his departure from Ephesus, giving final instruction to the Ephesian elders. Paul was leaving a church that he had worked with for three years, which was very close to his heart. The scene was quite emotional, a few verses later the text says, “And there was much weeping on the part of all.”
What stands out here is the responsibility of pastors and elders in a local congregation. The calling to shepherd a congregation is one that demands careful attention. Pastors are called not only to pay careful attention to those they are shepherding, but also to themselves. Paul picked up this theme in his words to Timothy as well:
1 Timothy 4:16
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
What stands out as a pastor in reading these texts is that I need to continually keep a close watch on myself, remain accountable, and be connected to healthy relationships that can help me grow. At the same time, I am called to watch the flock closely, because pastoral responsibility is given by the Holy Spirit himself. A church may “call” a pastor, a denomination may “assign” a pastor, and church members may even “vote” to receive a pastor into their congregation; but the biblical reality is that the mantle of oversight in the local church is Holy Spirit assigned.
That is a weighty reality, is it not? As a pastor, that should motivate me to keep a close watch on myself, my teaching, all the flock, and then some!
What does that responsibility entail?
“To care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
It stands to be stated: As the pastor of a local congregation, I’m accountable to God in caring for HIS church, which HE obtained with HIS own blood. LifePoint belongs to Jesus. He bought it. He owns it. He birthed it. He sustains it. He calls pastors/elders to care for it, teach his word, and shepherd it.
When pastors exercise oversight in a congregation, working to intentionally and clearly establish biblical patterns and principles of operation, Acts 20:28 is the reason why. It’s not always easy, in fact it rarely is. Yet being a part of the church isn’t about things being easy, it’s about the reality that Jesus bought us with his own blood, and he calls us as his body to advance his mission wherever he places us.
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.