Dr. Francis Akin-John
THE Bible specifically speaks about the qualifications for those who will lead a congregation of people. These qualifications have been the same for almost 2,000 years. Jesus is the perfect fulfill-ment of these qualifications as the “senior pastor” of the Church. Therefore, whoever will shepherd God’s church must imbibe and live by these qualifications.
One of the most fundamental problems of modern churches is that lots of us pastors have not, do not and is not trying to measure up to these biblical qualifications. That’s why the church is reeling to and fro from crisis to crisis.
Above reproah — (Titus 1:6-7; I Timothy 3:2): This is the over-arching, summarizing character-istic. You will find similar (but not identical) lists in First Timothy and Titus. Living a life above reproach is the first requirement in both lists and Titus repeats it. The other items on the list explain what “above reproach” means. If we peruse the two lists, as well as First Peter, we find 17 qualificat-ions of an elder who is above reproach.
- A pastor must be devoted to his wife; One woman man. (Titus 1:6; I Timothy 3:2): The pastor’s marriage illustrates Christ’s love for His church His bride (Ephes-ians 5:22ff.). A pastor must love his wife exclusively with his mind, will and emotions and not just his body.
- A pastor’s children must be in submission, though not perfect (Titus 1:6; I Timothy 3:4-5): If a man does not know how to man-age his own family, he will not know how to take care of God’s church. The first flock for a pastor is his own family as Pastor Dad. A pastor’s qualification for the church starts in his home manage-ment as he leads them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).
- A pastor is a faithful steward (Titus 1:7): Here the term used is overseer (Greek episkopos). It is not another office, but a funct-ional title of the shepherd. It is what he does. He is a steward, a manager of God’s resources and Jesus’ flock. He takes responsibi-lity, but not ownership.
- A pastor must be humble not arrogant (Titus 1:7): A pastor must constantly demonstrate the gospel by admitting when he is wrong and assuming responsibility and restoring relationships.
- A pastor must be gentle, not quick-tempered (Titus 1:7; I Timothy 3:3) No man will be of any use in the kingdom that is quick-tempered. The difference between how Jesus demonstrated anger is that He was angry at the abuse of others in the name of religion and the dishonoring of God. We get angry at how it affects us.
- A pastor must be sober, not a drunkard (Titus 1:7; I Timothy 3:3): This is not just over-indulgence in alcohol but is idiomatic for any behavior that fuels addictive responses.
- A pastor must be peaceful, not violent (Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 3:3) A Pastor must not be prone to inflict violence through his words. He is to be a peacemaker.
- A pastor must have financial integrity, not greedy for gain. (Titus 1:7; I Timothy 3:3; I Peter 5:3) A Pastor is to be upright in his financial dealings and not accus-ed of pursuing money over the kingdom of God.
- A pastor must be hospitable (Titus 1:8; I Timothy 3:2): A Pastor’s home is to be open for others to enjoy. A pastor’s home is not a heaven on earth, but rather a place of ministry.
- A pastor must be a lover of good (Titus 1:8) A pastor genuinely loves what is good. He does not just think he should love it.
- A pastor must be self-controlled (Titus 1:8; I Timothy 3:2): Self-control is a character-ization of every area of a pastor’s life: diet, time, mouth, exercise, relationships, sex, and money.
- A pastor must be upright (Titus 1:8): He has integrity in his relationships and in how he treats others. He is truthful, fair, open and transparent.
- A pastor must be holy (Titus 1:8): His life is devoted whole-heartedly to Jesus externally and internally. Christlikeness in everything.
- A pastor must be able to teach (Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 3:2): All of the other qualifications are character qualities. This is the only ability-based requirement. He is to be able to teach sound doctrine, not just be able to communicate in an excellent manner.
His teaching can be to one or two, to 20, to 100 or 1,000. Most of the churches in Crete were house churches. The shepherds were to defend the faith once deli-vered to the saints against the numerous false teachers that arose.
- A pastor must be spiritually mature (I Timothy 3:6) Positions of authority without spiritual maturity lead to the trap of pride. When pride grows in a man, sin abounds.
- A pastor must be respectable (I Timothy 3:7) That does not mean that everyone must like him or even appreciate him. It means that there is no credible witness to an ongoing sinful be-havior.
- A PASTOR MUST BE AN EXAMPLE TO THE FLOCK (1 Peter 5:3) — shepherds are examples of biblical expressions sexually, time management, marriage, parenting, worship, relationships and any other way. A Pastor should be someone your sons could pattern their life after and the kind of man your daughter should marry.
If we desire revival, Turnaround, transformation and spiritual impact of every local church, then pastors of churches must demonstrate these qualifications in their daily lives and pastoral assignments. Without returning to these qualifications and adhering to them, our churches will continue to lack God’s power and presence to change and transform our societies.
One of the cardinal ordinances that The Lord gave to His Church was the Lords supper. “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and give it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it, For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers Kingdom” Matt.26;26-29.
The Lord Supper, representing the blood and body of Jesus is for true believers in Christ and to be done often in remembrance of Him. But today in modern churches, I see three kinds and versions of it being practiced, namely;
- Communion – done with various kinds of things such as debonet wine, Agege bread, coke, fanta, black currant drink and served to all kinds of people in the church services. Mostly, it is IPESE—initiation, to tie people down in the church, Crusade grounds and most social gatherings. Quite sad that many so called Pentecostal and charismatic churches are neck deep in this.
- Holy Communion – done with wavers, hot drinks, red wine and all kinds of fruits and bread, served to all and sundry in churches to procure healing, miracles and prosperity for people. It also served in crusade grounds, conventions and hyped as the ‘miracle food’ to heal from all manner of sicknesses and diseases. It eventually hardened people’s heart to true repentance and living a godly life. That’s why there are too many nominal Christians in the churches of today, blinded by eating unworthy communions.
- THE LORDS SUPPER – preparation is made with unleavened bread only and fruit wine. It is served to genuine believers only and done with honour, dignity and sacredness. It is a mark of identification with Christ. Chronic sinners, divorcee, thieves, polygamous and those that has not done water baptism are not to partake in it.
Well, those who eat the lord supper unworthily will have themselves to blame. Those who basterdise the body and blood of The Lord will die spiritually and hardened to things of eternal life. Eating The Lord supper with sin will result in damnation. So says 1corinthians 11;23-31.
The wrong practices of The Lord supper might be one of the reasons for the large number of hardened and nominal Christians who are sinners in modern churches. Because they eat the body and blood of The Lord unworthily.
It’s not mandatory that you eat the Lord Supper if the spiritual level of the church is not ready for it. Must you practice Christ’s communion when majority of your church members are still living in open sin, disobedience and rebellion to God’s Word and will?
Of what use is drinking the blood of Christ and eating His bread of communion when they cannot strengthen us to live holy, separate and Christlike lives for Him in this crooked world?
Which one are you practicing in your church?