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Churches: Your Pastors and Elders Need your Prayers

January 17, 2013

bibleKevin DeYoung writes:

Your pastors and elders need your help to live out the calling of Acts 6:4: “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Because everything seems more important and seems more urgent than being in the word and prayer. Everything.

What happens if all the lights are burnt out and the heat doesn’t work and the pews are upside down and the sound is off? People will notice. People will say something. People will be upset.

But what if your elders didn’t pray more than five minutes at their meeting last month? Would you know? No on would, not right away. What if your pastor hasn’t prayed for weeks? What if the elders are not deep into the word? With almost everything else in the church someone will says, “What’s going on? Why didn’t you show up? What’s the problem? Why didn’t this get done?” But who knows when the pastors and the elders forget Acts 6:4?

This is an urgent reminder not just for congregations to pray, but for pastors and elders to focus their shepherding efforts on the ministry of the Word and prayer. (Which means training and empowering deacons for their own role in executing, administrating, or supporting the vision and ministries of the church–the very thing taking place in Acts 6.)

Without an emphasis on the ministry of the word and prayer, we elders and pastors quickly lose focus. Instead of shepherding the flock and making disciples, we end up functioning more like a board of directors who make decisions, run programs, or put out fires. Without an emphasis on the word and prayer, we are no longer helpful to the congregation: instead of offering the life-changing gospel of Jesus and helping others move toward God in prayerful dependence, we disenchant people with quick-fixes and weigh people down with rules. Without an emphasis on the word and prayer, we fail to cultivate our own devotional dependence upon God, we forget our own need for the gospel of Jesus, we rely on our own strength and ingenuity, and we thus get caught up in either pride (when we’re successful) or quiet shame and despair (when we fail).

Without an emphasis on the ministry of the word and prayer, we quickly become ill-equipped for our biblical calling according to 1 Peter 5:-14:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

So DeYoung concludes:

We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.

Read his whole post here.

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