Yesterday I had the privilege of meeting with seventeen Baptist pastors and deacons around a lunch table to discuss whatever was on their minds. We roamed over all sorts of counseling, preaching, and other theological issues (avoiding baptism, of course). These men from North Carolina call themselves “Pastors for Nouthetic Ministry.”
Now, it interested me that, on their own, they came up with this name for their informal group. They said that their training in Nouthetic Counseling had not stopped at counseling, but that it bled over into all other aspects of their lives and ministries as well. Hence, the title of the group.
This interests me, because it confirms what I have long believed that the Bible teaches—the Christian ministry is a whole. It is not divided into pieces labeled “preaching, counseling,” etc. There shouldn’t be men who “specialize” in one of these areas to the exclusion of the others. While he may find that his ministry tends to emphasize one or the other aspect of the ministry at times, a man must be doing all the shepherding tasks that God has assigned to a shepherd of His flock. Counseling feeds preaching; preaching feeds counseling. Together, they provide what Spurgeon called “An All Round Ministry.”
Pastor, are you truly one—that is to say, are you a good “pastor” (the word, as you know, means “shepherd”)? Shepherds, feed, lead, heal, seek after, and otherwise care for their sheep. How extensive is your ministry to the flock God has given you?
I once read where a popular preacher (now dead) declared that he did not need to counsel. His preaching, he said, took care of all such matters as those which others handled in counseling. Well, all I can say for that is he must have considered his preaching much better than that of the apostle Paul. In Ephesus, where he pastored a church, Paul regularly counseled his people, night and day, over the entire period of his pastorate. Read about it in Acts 20 (and, incidentally, it wouldn’t hurt to read Calvin’s commentary on those verses as well!).
Friend, do you have a nouthetic ministry? I have recently completed writing another book in the Greg Dawson series, entitled, Greg Dawson’s Nouthetic Ministry (yet unpublished), using their group’s name. In it I show something of what such a ministry might look like. If you are interested in it, keep your eyes open for its publication (there is one other volume in the Dawson series that should be published first).
The meeting yesterday was so enjoyable for all concerned that the leader of the group has already emailed me asking for another. I am delighted to have been able to reply in the affirmative. Since I am no longer able to travel, it is gracious of the Lord to send such fine men to meet with me, thus enlarging my ministry to fit my later years. If you are interested, pray that I will be able to continue to be of whatever help I can in this, and any other ways that He sees that I may be of service.