Sunday, March 02, 2008


Every Christian is a part of the wide family of God’s household, the church. (1 Tim.3:15, Eph.2:19), And the fellowship of the church is like a very big extended family system, a family which reaches across tribal, racial, geographical and cultural divisions.
In these days many writers of church history deal chiefly with its doctrinal, political and social aspects- ie. Organization of the church, its relation with the government, its internal disputes about ideas and beliefs etc. Such writers give less importance to the pastoral care in the church. Even though there has been much improvement in the organizational set up of the church, yet pastoral care has to be improved in the church. The following examples of the work of a pastor from different periods in the history of the church will show pastoral care has always been seen as one of the basic tasks of the people of God.


After Christ the ministry in the church became complicated with the introduction of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
Here we are going to see the sort of work which the minister or pastor was expected to perform.
St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the great bishops of the church, said that the pastor must be ready to help the following sorts of people in the following ways.
1. Disturbers are to be rebuked: (Jude 8,10,12,16,19.)
2. The low-spiritual (That is the unhappy or sorrowful) are to be encouraged.
3. The infirm are to be supported.
4. Objectors (those who oppose true teaching) are to be confuted.
5. Those eager to serve Christ, but unskilled, are to be taught properly.
6. Those lazy in the service of the church are to be aroused and awakened.
7. Those who are contentious (waiting to argue all the time) are to be treated with patience
8. The proud are to be shown the path of humble service
9. The oppressed are to be set free
10. The good are to be approved and encouraged
11. The evil are to be dealt firmly but treated with patience and care.
12. All people, whoever and whatever they are, are to be loved.
During the period AD-500 - 1500 the function of pastor was neglected. Very little compassion and concern for the needy was shown.
The reason was the development of the idea that priests were some how different from the rest of God’s people because of the ordination. The pastor was one among the mass, one of the people not suddenly transformed in to a guide, a president, a teacher, an instructor. The same Word makes the priest honorable and separated.
As the centuries passed these ordained priests gained great authority. By 18th century they were responsible only to the Pope and not to any lay people. The difference between clergy and the laity was very strong.

Some differences were:

1. At Lord’s Supper, the clergy stood, but the people kneeled.
2. Clergy received bread and wine but the people (Laity) received the wine only, not bread.
3. Priests were not permitted to marry and the people were regarded as inferior in holiness, because they were of course allowed to marry
Thus the priests were separated from the rest of the people.
They were the rectors or rulers exercising their authority within the church.

With the reformation of the church in the 16th century a new understanding of the ministry developed. Off course, in the reformed church. The differences which separated the clergy and laity, in many parts of the church began to decrease as the ordained leaders began to live more closely with their people.

Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation in Germany, stressed the doctrine of the universal priesthood of the believers, paved the way to reduce the distinction between clergy and laity (1 Pet.2:9).
Luther said all Christians are ministers: God has placed His church in the midst of the world among countless undertakings and callings.
Christians should not be monks, but live with one another in social fellowship and manifest among men the works and practice of faith. We all are priest, in so far as we are Christians, but whom those we call priests are ministers selected from our midst to act in our name and their priesthood is our ministry.
After the reformation the ordained pastors were called ‘pastor’ but the widely used word was preacher. But from 18th century the title pastor came to be widely used.
Richard Baxter was a puritan minister of the Reformed Church. In 1656 he wrote a book called ‘The Reformed Pastor’ in which he stated the need for a ministry to individual people and family group as follows
1) Non Christians should not be neglected
2) Strong in faith is to be strengthened and encouraged.
3) Weak or lazy or those who turned away from their faith are to be given special attention and should be helped to repent and start again
4) The sick are to be given constant care and the dying visited before the time of death.
5) Law breakers of the church are to be given helpful discipline. But if they do repent from their wrong ways they are to be joyfully restored to the fellowship
Baxter says, “We, pastors have greater works than they do (believers) and great difficulties to overcome, and therefore we have need to be warned and awakened as well as they.”
Baxter suggested that all pastors try to ensure that the work of saving grace is really effective in their own lives. They should not rest on their past experiences of God’s grace, but keep on growing.
They should be careful about their own lives so that their example does not contradict their teaching.
The work of a pastor is a special work, not to be treated lightly. So a very high standard is required of any one wishing to serve as a pastor.
The one who does not delight in holiness, not hate iniquity, not love the unity and purity of the church, who does not oppose arguments and divisions, who takes no pleasure in public worship of God with his people and fellowship of God’s people, this person is not fit to be a pastor of a church.

At Baxter’s time pastors task were, teaching and instructing people in the faith, disciplining church members, visiting people, especially those in need, counseling those with problems and difficulties in their lives.
A minister is not to be just a public speaker, but to be known as a counselor for souls as a physician of bodies.
Another protestant leader and the founder of Methodist Church, John Wesley, who lived in 18th century urged pastors to make regular visits, pay special attention to the needs of children, encourage parents in training children in the faith, organize meeting and fellowship and to test themselves.
Wesley said pastoral care was very demanding work, calling for the best that any man could give. Wesley wrote to a friend
“Oh what it is to have a cure of souls. You and I are called to this to save souls from death and to watch over them, as work men that must give account to God for our work, If our work meant no more than preaching few times in a week, I could play with it and so could you”
Both are important-preaching and caring for people in need.
The words and ideas of leaders like Chrysostom, Augustine, Baxter and Wesley have value long after they were written

Ministry of Pastoral Care

Good Shepherd Idea in the Bible

Shepherd : - A well known figure. The work of the shepherd in guiding, leading and protecting the flock was essential if the animals were to be productive and valuable to their owner.

The idea of a caring shepherd is given in NT and in OT.

1, In the OT. : This idea was used in three chief ways to describe the relation between God and people of Israel.

(a) He is our God… Ps. 95:6,7

He will feed His flock like a shepherd (Is. 40:11).
I will seek out my sheep and rescue them…. (Ezekel. 34: 11-15).
The Lord is my shepherd … (Ps.23:1).

(b) To describe the work of the religious political leaders in Israel.

God has saved and protected the Israelites and on the way to the Promised Land, he made his will clear in commandments He gave to Moses. The people needed continued instruction and care from human shepherds, the priests, the prophets etc.. God continued to guide and strengthen these wise elders. (Prov.2:6-8).

But not all these leaders led the people in right ways. There were false prophets and worthless shepherds among them, wise in their own conceit. (Ezra. 13:3, 34:1-10,
Jer. 23:1).
c) God’s people were defeated and oppressed because of no good leaders. Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah used the good shepherd idea in yet another way. Believing that God would never wholly forsake His people they looked forward to the True Shepherd, the Righteous Branch (Jer.23:5) to feed his flocks (Is.40:11) (Mich. 5:2-4)

2) In NT the idea of shepherd is used in two ways:
(a) Jesus used it for Himself (Jn. 10:1-16) The book of Hebrew also referred to Jesus as a great Shepherd (Heb.13:20)
(b) As in OT the idea used to describe human leaders. The risen Jesus Himself commanded Peter to feed my lamb…. tend my sheep… (Jn. 21:15-17)
Paul says to the elders of the church at Ephesus “Take heed……. to yourselves……….. to the flock….” (Acts. 20:28).
Peter exhorted the leaders of the church in Asia minor to tend the congregation in their charge willingly … eagerly…being examples to the flock (1Pet.5:2,3).

1. He guides his flock to good pastures and safe resting places (Ezekiel 34:14).
2. He feeds the sheep and provides for all their needs, seeing that they have water to drink etc..
3. He guards his flock and protects it from wild animals or thieves, or other dangers, even when this involves danger to himself (see 1Sam 17:34).
4. He searches for any sheep that strays or gets lost, until he finds it, (Matt.18:12-13).
5. He knows and names each sheep individually, so that they too know his voice and follow when he calls. (Jn.10:1-4).
6. He carefully tends any sheep that is sick or weak and takes special care…
Thus shepherd must take deep personal interest in the welfare of the flock. It calls the strength and courage, patience and self-sacrifice to put welfare of the flock before his own comfort; means losing sleep, facing personal danger or even death.
The leaders of the early church were modeled in this pattern:- It includes feeding the flock protecting them against false teaching, caring for the needy and distressed, encouraging those who had become half-hearted in their faith, keeping order and discipline, giving guidance and spiritual direction (See Jn. 21:15-17, Acts 20:28-31, 1 Thess. 5:2-15, 2 Tim 4:1-5).

All these activities are summed up in the idea of tending the flocks of God ( 1 Pet.5:2).


In both the OT and NT we find accusations against shepherds who oppressed and exploited the people or led them astray in false teaching instead of doing their work properly.

In Israel shepherds had certain privileges. In return of their work, they were allowed a share of the milk and wool ( 1 Cori.9:7) But some shepherds were eager to take these privileges, while refusing to accept their responsibilities (Ezak.34:2,3). This led to injustice, oppression and suffering.

Due to this, Ezekiel saw the people were weak, sick, injured, misled and lost.

Ezekiel gave a warning to these kind of leaders and prophets that God Himself would ‘put a stop to’ (Ezek. 34: 4,5,10).

Again Jeremiah says, “Woe to the shepherds” (Jer.23:1)

In NT Peter warned leaders (1 Pet.5:2,3), Paul warned : 2 Cori.11:13, False brethren (Gal.2;4), or dog, evil workers (Phil.3:2, Col.2:8).

So it is dangerous to be a wrong leader. Let us be a true ‘good shepherd’ as per the pattern set by Jesus Himself.


The life and ministry of Jesus is the pattern for individual Christian, church as a whole and life of the leaders in the church
Jesus is not only a bringer and carrier of the massage He Himself was the message, by His living character, by compassion, to be close to the people in their needs. He set a pattern.
Paul says Christians are the letter of Christ to reveal to the world this pattern (2 Cori3:1-3)
As Lord and Master: - Jesus was also a Servant He lived to serve, not to be served (Mark. 10:45).
He can be truly described as the Servant Shepherd. (Luk.22:25-27, Jn.13:13-16).
He told that his followers are called to be servants (Mark 10:42-44) Servants of Christ Himself ( 1 Cori.4:1) Servants of God ( 1 Cori.3: 5) and servants of people (2Cori.4:5).

The highest meaning of life is to be found in service of this sort.
He showed it in two ways
1. By incarnation
2. By His attitude.

Being one with People:-

Jesus truly become human, He took the nature of a Servant. He was humble, and walked the path of obedience to death. (Phil. 2:7). He was sensitive to the burdens and needs of the people. He came and lived among men and women (Jn.1:14)
As a man he felt temptation (Heb. 2:18)
He experienced joy and sorrow, hunger, pain, anger, tiredness and disappointment (Jn.2:1-11, 11:33-36)
He enjoyed the company of His disciples and friends, knowing the weakness and sin of the people did not completely draw Him from them. He knew that love and goodness would conquer sin and death. He has been called ‘the man for others’ who lived and died so that others might live in freedom and joy. The pattern of ministry set by Jesus is a ministry of incarnation of becoming one with men, a ministry of identification and involvement.


It is impossible for us to understand fully the character, life and ministry of Jesus.
He remains a mystery.
He was a master of human relationships. His attitudes towards people gives a deeper meaning to the work of a servant shepherd and provide a model for the ministry of pastoral care today and at all times.
1. Jesus showed a deep concern:-
Jesus was concerned with obedience to God’s will and with every thing that affects people’s lives. His mission was to set free men and women from slavery.
What is important is the attitude of loving obedience to God’s will and loving concern for other people which alone can enable men and women to live in His way (Act. 14:38,39)
2. Jesus’ felt a deep compassion for all people:- especially those who were harassed and helpless (Matt.9:35,36)
Compassion: feeling great pity for those in need (Matt.15:32; Mark 1:40-42).

3. Jesus compassion was blended with authority
Jesus spoke to the people in need with authority (Matt.7:28,29)
He criticized and corrected people with compassion.
4. Jesus accepted people as they were
To accept: to recognize:
Jesus did not approve of wrong behavior but never condemned people and did not disconnected His relation with them
He helped the women caught in the sin of adultery, at the same time warned her: “Sin no more” (Jn.8:1-11)
Jesus was the friend of all classes, out casts and sinners, (Luk.15:1,2) rich and powerful.
So He helped many-the prostitute (Lk 7:36-50), the despised tax collector (Lk.19:1-10) etc. He saw value in every person. To help people, He broke through all barriers of race, sex and social class.
5, Jesus was impartial:-
He did not favor any particular person or group (Matt.8:10-14)
6.Jesus made Himself available to the people in need.
He found time to help the needy
7.Jesus gave great importance to helping and counseling individuals:-
Even though large crowds gathered wherever he preached, he liked to solve the problem of an individual. His parables were about individuals. Jesus showed that each person is so important to God that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repented than over ninety-nine righteous. (Lk.15:3-7)
8. Jesus used different methods in helping different sorts of people
He used the method of dialogue or personal conversation asking questions to find out their basic problems. eg: (a) rich man, (b) a lawyer (Lk.10:25, 26)
People usually hear, but do not listen carefully enough to understand (Mark 7:14).
9. Jesus was quick to offer encouragement and praise.
Especially when he discovered hidden spiritual qualities in people like the centurion’s unquestioning trust and obedience (Matt.8:5-13).
Humble faith of Syro-phoenician woman (Matt. 15:21-28).
10. Healing of the body and healing of the soul have connection. He healed people in order to make them whole in body, mind and spirit.
William Booth’s Soap, Soup and Salvation idea.
A theologian Gerhard Kittel wrote: He was not scribe and not rabbi; not teacher or master of wisdom; what men discovered in Him was exactly this: the healer of souls.

In this chapter we have seen the example of pattern of care Jesus had in His ministry.
As the Servant Shepherd Jesus is the model whom all Christians involved in the work of caring for others must try to follow. As Paul said, “Have this mind among you, which is yours in Christ Jesus…… taking the form of a servant” (Phil.2:5-7).
The pattern that Christ set is not just a vague ideal. Through the work of the Holy Spirit it can become a reality in the lives of His followers who commit themselves to His service and the service of others in the world today.


The Christian’s Call

Bible basis: Romans 1:1-7
1 Corinthians 1:2
Galatians 5:13
1 Thessalonians 4:7
1 Peter 2:21

All Christians are called by Christ:
to holiness (1 Thess 4:7)
to freedom (Gal 5:13)
to peace (Col 3:15)
to light (1 Pet 2:9)
to suffering (1 Pet 2:21)

It is certain that all Christian are called by Christ, but it does not mean that all Christians have to leave their secular job. The calling of Christ did not cancel out social obligations and expectations.
The view of Luther and reformers was that the calling of the Christians should be expressed in secular work. The Christian has to do his or her work ‘wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord’ (Eph 6:7). The outcome of this view or secular work is that it is an opportunity to demonstrate consecration to Christ.


Bible Basis John 1:35-42
Mathew 4: 18-22
Acts 8:1; 9:1-6

The reality of a ministerial call is accepted by nearly all Christian’s denominations, though they
express their understanding of it differently. In most instances the ministerial call stems from the
minister’s own experiences. It is something that comes from inner certainties and conviction rather than something that comes from external human authority.

Calling is personal and individual. It is not a calling for isolation, but for the service to people especially to the believers.
In the Biblical references, we find two stages of call.
Preparatory period of time when the disciple is learning about Jesus and his mission.
Example : John Ch.1.35 onwards Two disciples talking about Jesus. Andrew introducing Peter to Jesus.

2. Jesus said “come and follow me”. This is the second stage of call.

The call is authoritative, radical and demands all that the Christian has and can give. Everything changes for the man or woman who accepts the call of Christ. The boats and nets that provided livelihood to them are left behind.

Paul’s case: He had been present during the stoning of Stephen. Paul knew the preaching of the early church. He was not a man in complete ignorance about Jesus and church. It was a preparatory stage for Paul

The revelation of Jesus on the Damascus road was sudden and dramatic and unique to Paul. It was here that Paul understood who Jesus really was. Paul counted this as his call by Jesus.
The call contains an indication of task to which the Christian is directed. For example- Jesus said to Paul ‘I will send you far away to the gentiles’ (Acts 22:21). Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, ‘I will make you fishers of men’ (Mt 4:19). The call of Christ is a new beginning. Paul left behind his old friends, values, aims, and expectations. For him, as for everyone who accepts it, the call of Christ is a new beginning.

Recognizing Christ’s call

Since the call is individual, we respond to God in ways appropriate to our characters and circumstances. In trying to analyze the elements of a call objectively we would expect to find :
a sense that God is speaking personally to us;
a desire on our part to serve God;
overriding circumstances and timings;
some indication of our general qualification for being called

All these points can be illustrated from the Biblical examples. All the New Testament ministers felt that God was speaking directly to them.
In case of Andrew there was a clear desire to serve God (which is why he became a disciple of John the Baptist)
In case of Andrew and Simon Peter, we may be sure that the preaching of John the Baptist, and the preaching of Jesus Himself assured them that the time was right, ‘the Kingdom of heaven is near’ (Mt 3:2). The nearness of the kingdom indicated that other priorities should be put aside. In case of Paul, circumstances were overriding in a particular way. He fell to the ground (Acts 9:4).

In case of all three men we are considering, there were qualifications of experience, intellect and character. The hard and disciplined work of the fishermen prepared them for hard and disciplined work as ministers of Jesus Christ. While Paul, sitting at the feet of Gamaliel in Jerusalem, received a thorough grounding in the Scriptures, over and above that received by most Jews of his day, which prepared him to engage in the full intellectual content of Christian Theology

The young minister

Complications occur if a man or woman feels a call to ministry after marriage. For example- the woman who expects her husband to find a steady job will find herself bitterly unhappy with the results of a sense of ministerial call. The called spouse will begin to sense new priorities and this can produce a deep sense of insecurity in the uncalled spouse. Therefore, young ministers must be sure to carry their partners with them into ministry. Without this assurance, the ministry will anyway fail. The danger is that the young minister, in a determination to follow Christ, will brush his or her partner aside and damage the intimate relationship which needs to be maintained in the course of a demanding pastoral ministry.

The older minister

During mid-life there is a chance of facing crisis such as health problems, marriage breakdowns or death of loved ones and so on. What happens in such situations is that the older minister believes that the skills he has learnt in the workplace will be directly transferable to the pulpit and the congregation. The call of Christ is always radical and demands everything we have and, those skills learnt in a secular context will often be valuable.

Implication for ministers

First, the call of Christ is an important safeguard against ministerial failure. There are times when the minister feels confronted by adversity and overwhelmed by trouble. When this happens, it is vital to remember the call of Christ. The Christ who called us, will not fail us, especially when our difficulties arise from a faithful discharge of our ministry. Without a strong sense of calling, problems may become innumerable.
Second, every minister enters a major decision-making zone occasionally. There are two or more lines of action that might be pursued. Which is the right one? Often it is helpful to think carefully about the original circumstances of a calling to understand the way forward. The call usually contains an implicit direction and entails a number of logical steps for its fulfillment. Paul knew he would eventually go to the Gentile. Peter knew he would be casting evangelistic nets and catching shoals of people. Without a strong sense of calling, times of decision may become causes of distraction
Implications for those who feel called to ministry
First, if you feel called to pastoral ministry, you need to find a context in which this can be expressed. The best place is the local church. The existing leadership of your church should accept your ministry/ call.
Second, if you feel called to full-time Christian ministry, then you need to test this calling against the opinion of other Christians in ministry. If the opinion of other Christians confirms your own sense of calling, you are ready to consider the next stage. If the opinion of other Christians contradicts your sense of calling, you need seriously to question the nature of your calling. Perhaps, you are being called to serve but perhaps, in a way that you did not at first realize. You have a great deal to lose if you mistake your enthusiastic desire to serve Christ for a radical calling to long-term ministry
Third, if you have an inner sense of calling and this is validated by the opinion of other Christians, you probably need to receive some form of training.