In his first century letter to the Ephesians, chapter four, the Apostle Paul laid out a clear vision for the aim pastoral ministry in the local church (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV):
Jesus Christ “ ...gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Defined & Applied
What does this mean? In summary, the exercise of certain God-given gifts within the fellowship of the local Christian community enables believers to grow together toward spiritual maturity, stability, unity, and love as they serve God and one another toward an ever-deepening understanding of and engagement in the truths of the Christian faith.
That is what pastoral ministry is supposed to produce: mature Christ-followers who love one another and are active in service together. And the pastoral ministry portion of the list of gifts Paul enumerated in Ephesians 4:11 are the last two items: “shepherds and teachers.”
“Teachers” we understand: they explain biblical truth, theology, missions training, even biblical counseling and principles of discipleship in practical areas like personal holiness, marriage, family, parenting, and so forth, using trusted resources that are rooted in Scripture and expressive of sound doctrine.
“Shepherds” is the interesting word. It is sometimes translated “pastors.” Pastors feed and care for God’s people, the “flock,” in a ways that are analogous to shepherds tending sheep. God does not want His people to be sheep without a shepherd (see Ezekiel 34). Therefore, Paul is telling us in Ephesians 4 that He has uniquely equipped certain people in the church to serve as “shepherds” so that His people will have the sort of teaching and leadership and care that He has intended for them. And as the shepherd’s operate within that enabling God supplies, His people mature in community just as He has intended.
At Grace Church of DuPage we take pastoral ministry very seriously. Biblical teaching happens not only in our Sunday Worship Services, but also within the context of personal relationships in our Sunday morning Adult Bible Fellowships, Youth Ministry, and Children’s Sunday School, Wednesday Evening Prayer Meeting and AWANA Clubs for children, our weekly/monthly FLOCKS gatherings in people’s homes, and also in our various types of and Small Groups, including Ladies Bible Study, Ladies Prayer, and Men’s Small Groups.
Caring for one another at Grace Church also happens in different ways. As there are physical needs in the our body, our Care and Share ministry springs into action. And our Deacons can assist at times of financial need as they steward our Benevolence Fund.Financial Peace University can also help here. Our Grace Biblical Counseling Ministries are available for Pre-marriage and Marriage Counseling as well as Biblical Counseling regarding a wide range of personal issues. Our staff also provides Pastoral Counseling as requested. And when we lose loved ones, our Bereavement Ministry can help in some limited, but very tangible ways.
Grace Church is also forward-looking in areas of pastoral ministry, providing training and practical experience in a number of different ways through our Mission Training Academy: Pastoral Ministry Training Apprenticeship, Women’s Ministry Training Apprenticeship, Music Ministry Training Apprenticeship, and our Missionary Preparation Program.