(Editor’s Note: This is the second in a four part series from Pastor Preus. It also builds on his previous series on Ablaze. All of his posts can be found archived in the Brothers’ Cafe.)
In my previous six blogs I showed why the Ablaze! program is flawed. In the next three I will show from the Bible a better way.
The Bible is really pretty simple about how the church grows despite our efforts to make it more complicated than it needs to be. In the Bible certain words are used to refer to certain communicative actions. If you understand how these words are used you will be well served. Some words refer to the work of the apostles. Some words refer to the job of pastors. Some words refer to the task of every Christian. We should know the difference.
First, the apostles were witnesses. They saw certain things and wrote them down so that we could have an accurate record. When Judas was replaced they had to have a witness. So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,  beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from usâ€”one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Acts 1:21-22. When John told of his writing he insisted it was based upon his having witnessed certain things, This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony (witness) is true. John 21:24. So we have a reliable scripture because certain eyewitnesses wrote down what they were commissioned to see and write.
Second, A couple of blogs back I showed that the words “evangelist” and “evangelize” refer to those who have been commissioned specifically to do the job of Gospelizing. This means to preach the gospel to people. Pastors evangelize – they preach. But where are pastors to find the people to whom they preach the gospel? That’s where you come in.
God has sent and commissioned certain people to publicly teach and preach his word. These are called pastors. They gospelize, evangelize or basically carry out the responsibilities of the office of the ministry. One of their primary jobs is to teach. In the Bible the word “teach” is almost exclusively connected to the office of teacher and these are pastors. Think of the great commission which is spoken to pastors. They have the command to baptize and teach. Think of Timothy or Titus who, as young pastors, are exhorted by Paul constantly to teach the people the doctrine of Christ. (I Tim. 4:11, 6:2, II Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:1-11. Pastors teach according to the Bible. And the Bible is a record of the eyewitness accounts. But where do the pastors get the people to teach? Here’s where you come in.
In the Confessions of the church we learn that among the Lutherans “There is a more frequent and more conscientious use [of the sacrament]. The people use it after having first been instructed and examined. People are taught about the true use of the Sacrament. It was set up to be a seal and testimony of the free forgiveness of sins, and so that it should remind alarmed consciences to be truly confident and believe that their sins are freely forgiven” (AC AP XXIV 49). So pastors instruct people with the goal of bringing them into the fellowship of the church and feeding them the body and blood of the Lord in the Sacrament. But where are pastors to find people to instruct so that they can join our communion? That’s where you come in.
Pastors preach, teach, instruct, prepare for the sacrament and administer it. They do this based upon the Bible which is written by witnesses. So what do you do?
That is the story for next time.