How would you answer that question? Is it the pastor's job to build up the church? Is it Jesus' job?
Andrew Sach spoke on this topic at the St Helen's lunchtime talks this week from Paul's letter to the Ephesians (download the recording on our website). Paul would say that both answers are correct, but only partially correct. Both Jesus and our pastor have roles to play in building up the church, but their roles aren't what we might expect them to be. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that we, the punters in the pews, have an essential part to play as well. Paul writes, "Christ gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:11-12)
Jesus' role, if you want to call it that, was to die on a cross bearing God's wrath at our sin so that we might be reconciled to God and to each other. Through his death, we became members of God's household, and so his death makes the church possible. And Jesus gave gifts to his church. He gave us our pastors. It was a surprise to me that I should think of my pastor in that way, but he is a gift to me from Jesus.
So what is the pastor's role? Surely his role is to build up the church? Paul would say no. It is not the pastor's job to build up the church. Rather, it's the pastor's job to equip the saints, the ordinary Christians, the punters in the pews, to do the work of ministry. The first time I understood this, it came as a complete shock to me. But it would seem that the work of building up the church is our job. It's our job to help each other grow in Christian maturity. It's our job to make sure that we all know Christ better so that we can resist the lies. I wonder if you've ever thought of it that way. Your pastor is your squire, strapping on your armour and handing you your sword. But you are the knight who must do battle with the lies and fight for the truth.
How do we do that here in the City? We could meet with Christian colleagues regularly to pray for one another and encourage each other to stand up for Jesus in the workplace. We could aim to have gospel conversations after the lunchtime talks so that we are armed with something true about Jesus to keep us going the rest of the week. We could sign up for the summer school, where we can be equipped for building each other up in the City and help each other to live and speak for Jesus in the workplace.
Next Tuesday 3 April, David Cook will be speaking at our Easter service. This will be an excellent opportunity to invite your colleagues to a clear and engaging talk on the death and resurrection of Jesus.