What's in Your Tool-box?

If you have been reading the previous two posts, I Peter 5 and Ephesians 4 must connect to Acts 6. This third passage tells you what is in your tool-box to accomplish what you are called to do.  Acts 6:1-7 is instructive for spiritual leaders in the church.

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. 3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. 6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

The way leaders shepherd and equip the flock is by using Scripture and prayer. That is why elders must be able to teach (I Timothy 3:2). This teaching is marked by a skilled and redemptive handling of the Word of God that brings people face to face with Christ. Since all of Scripture points to Christ, our use of Scripture must connect people and their problems to Christ.

This ministry of Word and prayer, according to Acts 20:20, includes both public ministry of the Word (preaching/teaching) and interpersonal ministry of the Word (one on one conversations). Paul taught in the synagogues and went from house to house. You must have both. One without the other is incomplete.

Some leaders are better at preaching and some are better at one on one conversations but both must be present in order to be an elder. This involves more than knowing doctrine and protecting against heresy at purely a theological level. As important as that is, it also includes speaking redemptively to the issues the sheep face daily; struggles with besetting sins, parenting, marriage, suffering and trials to name a few.

Finally, it involves prayer. Prayer fuels a dependence upon God and recognition that this is a spiritual exercise not merely passing along information. Prayer reveals that we are relying on a Person for people. We rely upon the Great Shepherd for the sheep.

Copyright © 2013 Tim Lane. All rights reserved.

Note: For an excellent resource on using Scripture for  interpersonal ministry, you would be wise to read CrossTalk: Where Life and Scripture Meet, by Dr. Mike Emlet.

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at CCEF in Philadelphia, PA (Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation). Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches.  For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.