This week we celebrated the ordination and enlistment of a new pastor with Vintage Church. As we’ve been discussing, it is important and helpful to understand and remember how our Vintage Partners and pastors work together. A church needs both. Like any organization, or better yet family, members and leaders are needed. Here, however, is what is important to recognize first. Pastors are partners. At Vintage Church, we call our church members partners. Why? They are partners because we partner with God and with one another to do the work he has called us to. Pastors are partners just like parents are family members. I am a husband and father, but that doesn’t exclude me from being a part of my family. I just have a different role than my wife and kids. In the same way, Vintage pastors are first and foremost Vintage partners. While we lead the church, we are also a part of the church.
Second, Vintage Partners and pastors should (and must) work together. If we are partners in God’s church together then we are on the same team working toward the same goal. We simply have different functions on the team. Imagine a quarterback trying to play wide receiver rather than his position, or vice versa. The football almost would never move forward. You have to have a quarterback to either hand the ball off to a running back or throw it to a wide receiver. In order to win football games every player is needed to play their position. You need quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, lineman, defensive linemen, linebackers, safeties, and even kickers.
In the same way every church needs pastors and partners (we also need deacons, but that’s another topic for another day). In order to advance the mission, we must be on the same team, working from the same playbook, focused on the same goal. For Vintage Church that means we will be about gospel proclamation, gospel transformation, and gospel multiplication (i.e. our mission). This action should lead to us living the gospel, serving the city, and being the church (i.e., our measures; winning). But we have to work together in our different roles.
One of my favorite passages in Scripture is Ephesians 4:11–12:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
These two verses encapsulate the pastors’ role as well as the partners’ role. Paul begins by listing several offices in the early church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherd-teachers. These were the leaders of the early church. 2,000 years later our pastors serve as the leaders of the local church. What are the pastors to do: “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” The meaning behind “equip” is to make someone adequate or sufficient for something. Think of a trade school. Why does someone attend a trade school? They go to become adequate or sufficient in plumbing, carpentry, electrical, and more. Similarly, pastors are called to prepare the church to do the very thing God has called his church to do.
What is the church to do? Vintage Partners are to do “the work of the ministry.” This is the mission. It is the game we are playing. God has equipped each and every Christian with gifts, a context, and ultimately a mission. We do the work of ministry when we use our gifts in our context for the sake of the mission. This should include things like holiness, evangelism, service, church planting, missions, love, and more.
For any team sport, coaches and players are both needed to win. Both have a part to play in the overall success of a team. The same is true for the church. The church is far more than its pastors—Partners—but pastors are needed. But our pastors, myself included, must never forget we are player-coaches. We not only lead the church; we are the church. As we celebrate the ordination of another pastor into the life of Vintage Church, may we all, pastors and partners alike, live out the responsibilities and roles God has called us to.