This is the last post in my series “Things Pastors Could Learn From Jamie Oliver.” It’s an odd topic for a blog series, I know, but I’m hoping it’s been instructive. You can get caught up with my introduction here. (It includes links to the other posts.)
The final thing I think pastors can learn from Jamie Oliver is:
For thousands of years, the fine art of cooking was a closely guarded secret. Chefs, like almost every other trade, operated on a scarcity principle, trying to keep their hidden knowledge and tools of the trade to themselves. It wasn’t till Julia Child that chefs became interested in giving their most prized asset, their knowledge of cooking, away.
The reason I like Jamie Oliver, as opposed to other celebrity cooks like Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay is that Jamie Oliver seems to be genuinely concerned with teaching people how to cook. (His video lessons on knife skills are a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into cooking.
I believe strongly that Pastors should be giving away their tricks of the trade in much the way that Jamie Oliver is teaching regular folks how to cook.
As a young pastor, I’ve greatly benefited from the ministry of men like Paul Chappell, who has done so much to train and equip other pastors. I’ve never been to a Spiritual Leadership conference at West Coast Baptist College (although I’d love to go, wanna help pay my way?) but I’ve heard almost every single training session in the past three years and have been greatly helped by them. West Coast makes all of these available for free on their web site, and puts out a couple of consistently helpful podcasts which are also free.
Most of us aren’t Paul Chappells. We don’t run humongous churches with school and camp ministries. We don’t publish magazines and newspapers to thousands of churches. We don’t have that much to give away.
We might not have that much to give away, but we do have something. 2 Timothy 2:2 says
“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
We should all be giving our knowlege away, not because we know so much, but because that is God’s plan for the church.
Let me suggest four ways we can do this as Pastors in the 21st century.
Part of the great commission is “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I’ve commanded you.” Our job doesn’t stop at witnessing, we are to disciple our converts with knowledge about the Christian life.
One of the greatest blessings I’ve ever had in life was working for Jack Scallions at Fairview Baptist Church. Dr. Scallions had pastored the church for 35+ years before I got there, and in the four and a half years I worked for him, I spent hours every week in his office learning about the pastoral ministry. Pastor Scallions didn’t wait until he’d pastored for 35 years to start doing this for people like me. He started mentoring people for the ministry soon after becoming a pastor, and had done it for many, many pastors before I even got there.) We should all be on the lookout for ministry minded men who we can move to the next level.
Our Lord spent the majority of his earthly ministry in training his disciples. Think about it. Christ’s greatest congregation, and main material accomplishment, was the training of 11 men.
I’m appalled at how little regular people know about the Bible and ministry. It tears at me when I learn that a sixth grader who has grown up in church can’t find the book of James or that a couple who has been in church for thirty years, can’t do something as basic as define the major doctrines of the Bible. The reason most people aren’t involved in evangelism and ministry isn’t because they have rebellious hearts, it is because they haven’t been trained.
I’m no expert at this, but in my small church I’ve devoted about 25 Sunday or Wednesday night service times a year to ministry training or Bible education. I’ll do series on Bible survey, evangelism, church history, teaching the Bible, etc. If they don’t get trained for ministry in church, when will they get trained?
I think all pastors should write. Not necessarily write to be published, but write for clarity and write so that others can understand our vision and scriptural point of view. While this isn’t commanded in scripture, we certainly see a pattern of it. (Matthew, Paul, Luke, John Mark, James, Peter, Jude and John all wrote letters to different groups of Christians and we are still benefiting from it.) Who among us isn’t grateful for the writing ministry of Charles Spurgeon, G. Campbell Morgan or F.B. Meyer? Writing is one of the best ways to convey why we are doing something.
I’m not talking about transcribing our sermons. I make and post a manuscript of every sermon I preach, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about writing to write, which is totally different. When we speak, our listeners can’t reread the last two sentences, so we speak with a different, sort of dumbed down cadence and grammar. Readers, however, are used to denser language, and can linger on a sentence to understand it before they go on. Written language can and should be tighter and denser than spoken language.
We can all blog. We can all put a few paragraphs every week in our bulletins. We can all write letters to the editor or a pastoral column in the newspaper. We might not be great at it, but the bulk of the benefit might go to us and not our readers.