I have realized something today much more clearly than ever before. I have been preparing myself for future ministry. In fact, I am constantly wrestling with issues that arise within the local church. My brothers and I discuss them quite often. You can imagine the issues that may come up around a theological seminary. For example, we have discussed the issue of divorce and remarriage numerous times. Some of us have come to conclusions on the issue. However, some of the conclusions differ even among my group of brothers at work. The issue of divorce is not the topic of this post, but the process of coming to conclusions.
In a pastoral setting (and professors need to make this aware to their students), people do not need your conclusions only. They need for you to “show your work.” Any math student knows that you cannot merely write the answers done for the homework; you must show your work. Too often, pastors arrive at the church with most of their conclusions and when faced with the issue simply state their position without working through the issue within the church body. How can this be? What is the biblical way to state our positions?
I Peter 5: The pastor should lead the sheep. He should build fences for the sheep with the sheep and give them reasons for building fences. He should not send the sheep to build the fence until they know how. Thus, the shepherd should be showing the sheep how to build a fence. This fence is for their protection and the process of building a fence is necessary for the sheep to know why they are in need of protection. Remember pastor, you are a sheep too. Therefore, all conclusions to the issues that arise in the local church should be sought in the Word of God. This will take time and much prayer with the church.
The fence is not an option. You will have to work through issues such as divorce within the church. The fence makes a clear statement of the conclusions wrought from Scripture. This will make clear where someone will stand–inside the fence or outside the fence. There will be times when a wolf in sheep’s clothing makes his way inside the fence. This wolf must be removed and placed outside the fence. If you do not have a fence you will have no place to put the wolf. If you do not have the process of building the fence you will have angry sheep who cannot understand why the wolf was placed outside the fence. Therefore, the biblical pastor will lead the sheep through a study and discussion possibly for a few years before the fence is built. Then the biblical pastor and the biblical church will stand within the fence together on a foundation.
The other side of this thought is necessary too. When you (anyone in the church) encounter a sheep outside the fence, then you can explain the fence and maybe rescue the wandering sheep. If you encounter a wolf outside the fence, then you will know how to defend yourself. STAY INSIDE THE FENCE! Now, do you believe the fence is important? Let me know what you think.