SBTS chapel live blog: Al Gilbert – Acts 20:27-28

Communications Staff — October 20, 2009

Preacher: Al Gilbert

Text/title: Acts 20:27-28 – “The Shepherd, the Local Church, and the Great Commission.”

I want to focus on the pastor today, and the role of the pastor in sharing his life with the lives of the people in his congregation. I want to challenge you, pastor, as to what is your responsibility as a leader of God’s flock.

Be on guard for yourself

The things that you teach your flock, pastor, must be in your heart. Otherwise, your people will know, just like children know when their parents don’t take something to heart.

I could take this text and talk about holy living. I could take this text and talk about disciple-making in the local church. But do you understand as the teacher, as the man of God, in your local church that your role is to take the whole counsel of the Word of God to your flock?

You can have the wrong vision of what it means to be successful. You can have the wrong measurement of what it means to lead your people. You must be on guard for yourself.

Be on guard for your people

You must also be on guard for your people. We must say to our flock with boldness, as Paul did in verse 24, that we count our lives as loss that we may proclaim the Gospel. But if we measure our success only by our programs, then we will come short of declaring to our people the whole counsel of the Word of God.

Who appointed you to lead God’s people? The Holy Spirit. I challenge you to guard your pronouns. You can speak of it as “my church” for identification, but beware, lest you think it is actually your church. It is Christ’s church and it cost him His very blood.

Inextricably linked: the whole counsel of God and the man of God. Inextricably linked: the whole counsel of God, the man of God and the people of God.

Programs and being missional

Accomplishing the Great Commission requires the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world.

How do we do the programming of our church? What does it accomplish? To what end does it go? I have been observing missional churches. Missional church leaders say we are coming up short in our churches of establishing community and in reaching out to the poor and meeting the needs of the poor. And they are right.

I have sought to do something about this. I developed something called “Love Winston-Salem.” I went around to local churches and told them what I was doing and they said, “O: social gospel.” I know about the social gospel. That was when people took a cup of cold water to people and didn’t connect it to the Gospel. That is not what Love Winston-Salem is.

Being missional impacts hurting people and takes the message of the Gospel to them. Can I give a warning? Some people who claim to be missional aren’t taking the message to people. I needed to repent. And I urge you to repent if you are doing that.

I also hear people talking about being missional, but never doing missions. I don’t get that. How can you go to the poor and needy in your community and then have it stop there. If you are truly committed to people worshipping the Lord Jesus, then you will go to your immediate context, to the inner city, but you will not stop there. It is missional it keeps moving, it does not come up short and it finally gets to the mission.

The whole church, the whole Gospel, the whole world.

The whole church: don’t you believe that God has a plan for His church? Don’t you believe that God can do more than you ask or think for your church (Eph 3:20-21)? As the shepherd, you need to imagine for your people how they can see and show and live out the message of Jesus as the Messiah. It better be radical and it better be revolutionary.

Southern Baptist Convention and critical days of change

[[NOTE: This is a live blog summary of Gilbert’s message, not direct quotes.]]

I hear you saying that the bureaucracy is too slow and I agree. I hear that we are missing something when we are giving someone else the money and we can’t do it ourselves and we agree. And I hope that when this is over, we must put our resources where our heart is and take the Gospel to the nations.

We have a mission for the SBC and we have given that mission to people and over time it has morphed in some ways. We are seeking to uphold that missions.

It is a painful to examine positions that are occupied by real people, living real lives. When we announce that we are going to do away with a position, with a person, it hurts.

But we also can’t do what makes us happy for the short run if it doesn’t line up with our mission.

No longer can we maintain our programs when they don’t help us accomplish our mission of taking the Gospel to the nations.

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

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