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It’s been a busy first week of February, and I confess that I’ve had this blogpost sitting in my draft box for two weeks, even though it is ready for publishing!

Not only was the first week of February a joyous celebration regarding birthdays and incrementing in age, but I was based in Edinburgh and served at a local church as part of our Missions Week with Cornhill.

Do you remember the Great Commission of Matthew 28?

The Baptists in particular, embrace verses 18-20 with great emphasis on baptising born-again believers. Our base church that I served for a week was at a local independent evangelical, who are not associated with the State or even affiliated with a denomination or embodied organisation governed by men. It was actually refreshing to see how they did church. From my careful observation, it appears that independent churches focus on the first half of verse 19 of Matthew 28.

Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

From my studies so far at Cornhill. Networked churches associated with Cornhill tend to focus on feeding God’s people with God’s Word with convincingly sound theological doctrine, evangelism and making disciples. Baptists however, focus on believer’s baptism, mission, community (in a physical sense), and regular communion of the Lord’s Supper.

Going further… British Baptists and Scottish Baptists alike liberate women and ordain them as pastors of a local church. Across the pond in the States, and you have the Southern Baptists, who limit pastorate roles to men only, which I agree for scriptural and practical reasons. Curiously, it’s amazing that some of the most influential preachers and pastors of my generation are Reformed Baptists. Of course, there are other inspiring folk outside the Baptist circle!

For theological reasons, I struggle to find peace with Reformed Presbyterian, but I do agree to a Reformed Baptist doctrine.

Overall, I believe there needs to be a focus on God’s Word, otherwise – how will people grow and mature as Christian believers?

For many, being a pastor is just a ‘job’ or a ‘career’. There! I said it. You can tell by the laid-back attitude and fluctuating growth. It’s worse when you see churches bring in and ordain folk as pastors, when there is no Godly character. Fair play, they may come across as a confident speaker, and they may be able to melt butter with their charm and charisma – but serving God isn’t about fooling people to accommodate you as an individual. You are essentially God’s ambassador of God’s Living Word… a calling and lifestyle I would sincerely fear to live by.

For me, the penultimate call to pastoral ministry is to serve God’s people and nurturing the sheep in God’s Word, whilst evangelising to the goats.

Right now, I am wrestling with the theological doctrine of key denominations, as I want to have the peace to be associated with such denomination or group, because at the end of the day, it is the pastor who will be channelling his passion of knowing and understanding of the Holy Scriptures. And through Godly wisdom, he would need to be a gifted communicator of God’s Word, and illuminate a local church with a powerful vision, if he is to make an impact on the congregation and its surrounding community.

  • A poorly fed church will entertain you with stories and jokes, as opposed to God’s Word.
  • A richly fed church will encourage and provoke you, so that you will grow confidently in the LORD Jesus Christ every single day.
  • A poorly fed church will see a real lack of vision to drive the church forward.
  • A richly led church will grow exponentially with people willing to invest time and money, and they will even break down barriers to network with surrounding churches to see through a vision in Christian unity.
  • A poorly fed church will focus on the outside like a new building, or in branding its presence through corporate businesses, as opposed to using homebrew talents and gifts of the local congregation.
  • A richly fed church will focus on people (inside and outside), and be enthusiastic to equip people (young and old) to build up leadership skills and see through a call to ministry – or better still, strengthen God’s people through a theologically sound pastorate and leadership team.

These are purely my personal thoughts, based on churches that I have attended and experienced to date. I hope to reflect more on my experience and time of Edinburgh, as I have learned so much from one week of pastoral ministry at a local church. In the meantime, I must catch up on some reading for some speaking engagements in the coming weeks ahead.

~Richard