Non-Visiting Pastors ?

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by Rippon, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. Rippon

    Rippon
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    I bought a book a few months ago . It is : "The British Particular Baptists 1638-1910 ." One of the authors of this edition ( Don Goertz ) dealt with the subject of Alexander Maclaren ( 1826-1910 ) .

    Though Maclaren was associated with the Particular Baptists he was not a Calvinist . He was a contemporary and friend of Charles Spurgeon . He was a fine Bible expositor ( despite his non-Calvinistic leanings ) . I wanted to get some feedback on something . Do you know any pastors who remind you of A.M in this regard ?

    Here is what is striking . The following is found on page 249 .

    While preaching is what Maclaren is remembered for , there were never any accolades given for his pastoral work . He seldom ever visited his church members and seemed intimidated by the vulnerability of one on one contact . A very telling example was his reaction to being told his maid was under conviction and being asked if he knew , his reply was :
    I did not know , but I commend her
    to your care . I am able , with God's
    help , to teach the truth to hundreds
    ; you can bring it home better to
    one or two .

    He held people at a distance , seemingly unable to express emotion . One can read his sermons and never come to any sense of the man .
     
  2. j_barner2000

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    there is a pastor in our area who does block calling twice a week. He is fully supported and has more time available. He will not marry, or bury or even associate with anyone who is not a mamber of his congregation. He is so into seperation that he will not even ackowledge me at a public meeting... orth of july celebration etc.

    I on the other hand vissit in a more directed manner. I seek referrals from members of the congregation and visit that way. I will minister to anyone who seeks my ninistry. I am bi-vocational and have limited time resources, so block calling is not a good use of my time. I have had folks question my disdain for cold-calling, but God prepared me to serve the way He intends for me to serve.

    God is blessing both of our ministries in a part of michgan where the population decline is leading the way and we are both growing. God chooses the man for the ministry He has called us to and He made us, so let the man serve God in the way He has ordained.
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    Rippon,
    Are you making some kind of point? God used MacLaren and he died long ago... so why bring this up? I'm really not accusing, I just would like to know.
     
  4. TCGreek

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    Rippon,

    1. As a pastor, I take great delight in go to the homes of my members and personally visiting with them. It's quite rewarding.

    2. Just this evening I was at the bedside of one of our founding members--she's in her 90s, but still quite sharp and God-focused.

    2. AM would have missed out on this aspect of pastoral ministry; being a pulpiteer is not enough. To the Ephesus elders Paul adds this, "I never shrank back from telling you what you needed to hear, either publicly or in your homes" (Acts 20:20, NLTse, emphasis mine).
     
  5. Rippon

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    The Lord certainly used MacLaren . My point is that all preachers/pastors are not cut-out for visitation . Some devote most of their time to the study of the Word -- they labor at it . James Boice had an agreement with his congrgation to do so . His staff of elders and deacons were given over to this kind of ministry . Jonathan Edwards is another who comes to mind -- 13 hours of study per day . Some ministers let it be known that all that could be said was done in the pulpit . Other pastors are suited for both the ministry of the Word and visitation . One size does not fit all .
     
  6. Rippon

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    AMEN TCG . And good job quoting from the NLTse . It reads almost like the HCSB for Acts 20:20 : and that I did not shrink back from proclaiming to you anything that was profitable , or from teaching it to you in public and from house to house .
     
  7. TCGreek

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    I wish not to be polemical--but I must add the following:
    1. I know that godly men have done it before, but I really don't understand it. I don't understand how a man can rightfully be called a shepherd and not express the true meaning of what it means to be a shepherd--"shepherds ought to smell like their sheep."

    2. I'm sorry--but pulpiteers are missing out on real ministry. Forgive me for not really grasping this concept; maybe I was not cut-out for non-visitation.
     
  8. Tom Bryant

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    Rippon,
    Great point. I think that some guys are like James Boice - I went to 10th Pres for a year when I was in Philly - and don't do much visiting. But others love, enjoy and desire the ongoing interaction with people.

    I think pastoring was much different during MacLaren's time. Most of the organizational/business stuff of the church was done by lay people. Pastors were involved in the preaching/teaching/pastoring part. Alot of pastors took entire summers off to travel. Can you imagine doing that now?

    Single staff pastors must do alot of the visiting. But they would be wise to let others who have gifts of mercy and helps to learn how to visit. The pastoral/shepherd picture, to me, means that the pastor makes certain that people are being cared for, not that he doesn't have to do it all himself.

    free words ... and worth every penny. :laugh:
     
  9. Major B

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    The following was told me by a British evangelist at a Bible Conference in New Jersey in 1988.

    When MacLaren was called to his pastorate (Edinburgh Tabernacle?) the elders said, "Dr. MacLaren, we will provide a house which we will re-model, and a carriage and horses, and pay you such and such." MacLaren, still a young man, said, "You have not heard my one main requirement. You may have my head or my feet, but not both." The elders said, "Young man, we'll take your head, and we'll be your feet."

    When I was a full-time pastor of a smaller church, I did all the visitation. I am now a bi-vocational interim pastor, and I told the leadership when I arrived last February that I would not be able to visit except on rare occasions. Guess what? The deacons of the church have taken that ministry on, and are doing well at it.

    With Boice, or MacArthur, or any other pastor of a very large church, the question is, if the pastor visits you, why can't he visit me? Visiting anyone and not visiting everyone is a genuine problem, and with thousands of members and members' relatives, that load gets impossible.

    The idea that the pastor is the "full time Christian" is akin to the idea of a parish priest. He should certainly do his share, but the idea that he is the single visitor is frankly unChristian.
     
    #9 Major B, Jan 9, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2008
  10. Rippon

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    I'm in agreement Major B . I don't think Charles Spurgeon did much visitation either aside from conducting funerals . He had a sizable congregation and health problems also .

    Richard Baxter ( 1615 -1691 ) in Kidderminster did a heavy visitation route though . Sometimes he was amazed at the level of biblical ignorance among his people -- and he an accomplished preacher was their minister !
     
  11. bobbyd

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    I'm still hurting after reading Baxter's "Reformed Pastor" in seminary and seeing how far i fall short.
    Personally for me, while i do visit...i have to make myself do it, and i know i don't do it nearly enough. I'm an introvert and it's really hard for me to start and keep a conversation at times; so i tend to feel akward when i'm in a home and it goes silent. I still do the visits, but it is hard for me. Hospital visits are a bit easier for me, surprisingly since that is one thing i dreaded having to do as a pastor.
     
  12. MNJacob

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    Jonathan Edwards was fired for not having a program of regular visitation.

    "The Reformed Pastor" is a convicting read.
     
  13. Rippon

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  14. TCGreek

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  15. ANewCreature

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    Not doing visitation is one thing, but it almost sounds like MacLaren found one-on-one contact distressing, not just that he didn't feel it was his job. The comment about vulnerability - if he couldn't read nonverbal cues well, that would cause one to feel very vulnerable - and, with the comment about the difficulty showing emotion - who knows, maybe he had Asperger's Syndrome. :)

    I only think I might have it a bit, not really a bad case, but I know that since grade school I have had to make an effort to reach out more and more to others and speak up about things, and have become pretty good at it, with the help of Godly friends and family encouraging me. (I did a fun message in AWANA one evening for the clubbers on Matthew 5:16 - a "Paul Harvey's Rest of the Story" type where I talk about this kid who talked to imaginary friends all the time on the playground in grade school, and one friend in particular who helped him - and in the end revealed who this "kid" was, and told them how they, too, could be that special light to a kid who just seemed odd, whether because of handicap, how they acted, etc., and that one day that kid might be a great pastor, missionary, or just a teacher doing a message like this, and then they too, could be part of...the rest of the story.)

    To me, reading this just shows how awesome God is to be able to use anyone, regardless of circumstance. I might never be the kind of soulwinner who can just go up to someone on the street and easily start sharing the Gospel, but I've come to the point where door to door visitation by myself, even, to invite people to our VBS/Easter pageant/etc. is easy, if I've got a plan of generally what I want to say. A congregation would be easier, I think.

    I do, however, think that it's important to get lay people involved in visiting, too, especially in a larger church. I think it would be hard to visit every single person; I've heard that a chruch should have 1 pastor for every 200-250 people. And, that is primarily because of visitation needs.

    I think God can certainly use a pastor who doesn't visit at all, but they need to have leadership that is very committed to it themselves. Becasue, from what I've gleaned talking to others, if a pastor is good in other areas, the people will understand - be it shut-ins or whatever - why the pastor himself doesn't visit. However, if *somebody* doens't visit, the pastor is the one who will get the blame.
     
    #15 ANewCreature, Jan 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2008
  16. PeterM

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    I guess I draw a distinction in the titles "Pastor" and "Preacher."

    Simply being a pulpiteer, while it might be your greatest love and passion is not pastoral ministry... It is certainly a central element to it, but shepherds should be close with their sheep. I believe it is what I do in the lives of my sheep Monday through Saturday gives me the platform to invest in them from the pulpit. Visiting with church members on their turf can be a vaulable thing and I count it as a privilege to have the opportunities to do so.

    I guess it all has to work together.
     
  17. Major B

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    Each circumstance is different.

    I do visit, but not often, simply because I can't be two places at once. As a fill-in (for 11 months?) pastor with a full time teaching job and a part-time counseling practice, I really don't have much time for visitation. And, since this is a "temporary assignment," I really can't stop doing either of the other tasks.

    However, under my leadership and instruction on shared leadership (code word for eldership), the deacons of the church have established a regular visitation schedule which actually works out with more visitation actually ongoing than you could ever get with the pastor being "The "Full Time Christian."

    Remember pros, eis, eis in Eph 4:11-12 The pastor is FOR equipping the saints UNTO the work of the ministry, UNTO the building up of the body...
     
  18. TomVols

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    I remember a pulpit committee telling me that they didn't care what I preached, just so long as I visited the homes in the community. This church wanted a social worker, not a pastor. When a pastor preaches, he is visiting EVERYONE at once, doing his primary duty - preaching God's Word. I like visiting people, but I know my primary calling/duty - to Preach the Word. Therefore, I bristle to hear that a pastor who considers the primacy of preaching a "pulpiteer." If that's a pulpiteer, I'd rather be a pulpiteer than a hired errand boy :)

    And wasn't a primary cause of Edwards' dismissal his view of close/closed communion?
     
  19. Major B

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    Edwards' church, before he ever went there, has adopted the "half way covenant," whereby a person who had not had an experience of salvation could still be a member of the church, vote, and take communion. After many years at the church, he concluded that this was an unbiblical practice and he opposed it and tried to change it. Then he was fired.
     
  20. PeterM

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    In the circumstance you present, I would have hopefully seen the writing on the wall as you obviously did.

    I actually made visitation my priority. The pastor I replaced rarely darkened a church member's door, which I found to be a measure of neglect. By visiting the home of every church member, I can accomplish things I never could from the pulpit (ask questions, hear their testimony, build a relationship). I know that there are church situations where that kind of investment is simply not practical (ie mega-churches), and that is fine as I am sure there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

    Again, and not to cause you to bristle, I certainly believe that what I do in the pulpit on a Sunday is vital, but having only one leg on a stool is impractical and dangerous. Building healthy relationships with my people and staying connected with them builds a more solid trust and gives me more freedom in the way in which I lead and it also makes what I preach on Sunday's more valuable for them and for me. In all, I believe that by doing those things, I can accomplish my primary calling/duty: Make Disciples.
     
    #20 PeterM, Jan 15, 2008
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