THE PERFECT PASTORS FELLOWSHIP
By Missionary Buddy Smith
I have finally found the perfect pastors’ fellowship.
I do not say this lightly.
For over forty years I have been looking for a group of godly men who would serve as mentors to young preachers, who would consistently display a deep humility, who would teach and preach the Word without fear or favour. I have longed for a fellowship of preachers who would resist the fleshly allurements of Hollywood and Nashville, who despised the politics of denominationalism, who saw through the cheap fads and gimmicks of the “Super Preachers.” I searched high and low for a group of pastors who were in the orbit of that One Man, and Him alone! I wanted to keep company with brethren who were genuine Christian scholars and believed every Word from God without question.
Well, I finally found them. It has been a long search. Admittedly, among the numerous pastors’ fellowships that I have sampled, I found some of the qualities I longed for. But not all. Some came close to my criteria, but the wheels always fell off just when they were needed the most.
Let me tell you about this fellowship.
No, it doesn’t have a name. They never bothered to choose one. I suspect they have been too busy with more important things. The pastors in this fellowship don’t have any of the modern conveniences we have. Not one has a computer. None of them owns a car. They don’t even have electricity, so there’s no television or radio where they live. They have never been to a pastor’s conference, or an evangelistic crusade. None of them has a degree in theology. In fact, none of these pastors have even been to Bible College. They never heard of 40 Days of Purpose, (and I didn’t tell them.) CCM is unknown to them. I suppose the thing that impressed me the most was the fact that they don’t even have the whole Bible.
I guess we would call these their limitations.
But let me tell you about their pastoral work.
1. They stick to the job. For years and years, they have kept right on feeding their flocks. Not one of them has ever looked for a larger pastorate or an easier ministry. They know the meaning of the word “abide.”
2. They pastor in an environment of almost universal darkness. Oh, there is a little gleam of light here and there and they fellowship in the light they have. They just keep on pastoring, though the night deepens.
3. They avoid deceptive methods of multiplying their flock. They breed for strength, not show. They grow their own flock through prayer, good pasture, and a lot of hard work.
4. They are thorough in their shepherding, and they know their sheep. They find and fold and feed and fleece their own flock.
5. They are diligent and vigilant in their oversight of the flock God has given them. They are ever so protective of their sheep. No wolf is going to snatch even one little lamb from their flocks, ever!
6. These are no hirelings! No roaring lion will ever frighten them away. I have seen a score of lionskins hanging on their walls. These are faithful shepherds.
7. I am especially impressed with their knowledge of the Scriptures. One only has to tell them some truth from God and they immediately relate it to the truths they already know. Such agility of heart is very rare, even among pastors!
8. And you ought to see how they receive God’s Word when He sees fit to reveal more of Himself to them! It is this response that finally convinced me that this is the ideal pastors fellowship.
I have been on mission fields where the national pastors did not have all the Bible, and I have seen their delight in having more of it translated into their language. But these pastors amaze me at their responsiveness to the new things they receive from God. They immediately imitate the Bereans of Acts 17:11 and begin searching the Scriptures they know by heart to see if these things are so. They go to great lengths to see the things they already know by faith.
(I must admit I watched very carefully to see how they would treat any new Word from the Lord. We all know pastors who reject any unfamiliar truth even though it is clearly laid out in Scripture. Well, these pastors surprise me beyond measure. They show no trace at all of a critical, sceptical approach to the Word of God. They do not even form a committee to establish the veracity of the text. They do not consult the resident German rationalist at the seminary. They do not analyse the text for grammatical errors. They do not search the Vatican library for variant readings. They do not take a crash course from modernists on textual criticism. They just believe the Word from the Lord and act on it. Immediately!
9. And then they rejoice over the wonderful truths God reveals to them! So much so that they can not keep quiet about it. The things they get from God change their preaching. They have to tell everybody they meet. And their excitement is contagious. Many have been provoked to worship through the preaching of these godly pastors.
You can see why I think I have found the perfect pastors fellowship.
I expect you want to know where it meets, and who they are, and when the next fellowship meeting is so you can come and see for yourself.
Well, I must confess, my contact with them is through a historian, my favourite historian, Dr. Luke. He wrote about them in his first book, his gospel. They are the first pastors mentioned in the New Testament. They are the faithful shepherds of Luke chapter 2 (verses 8-20.) These are the pastors who stayed by their flocks when the world was darkening. These are the pastors who abode with their sheep, not forsaking them for the comforts of home and hearth. These are the pastors who watched sleeplessly for the good of their sheep. These are the pastors who feared the Lord and reverenced His Word, and like Abraham, staggered not at the promise of God. These are the pastors who showed true Christian scholarship in believing the Word uncritically and demonstrated this faith in immediate pursuit of the Truth it revealed. These are the pastors who preached the Word to any and all and did it worshipfully. And it was through the preaching of these pastors that hearts were touched.
I have finally found the pastors fellowship I need. This is my crowd! Five hundred years ago Luther wrote that it was his crowd, and Spurgeon praised them in a sermon preached in 1865. So I guess this fellowship has been around a long time. You would think every Bible believing pastor would want to be in this fellowship.
Of course, there was another fellowship of preachers in those early days of Luke’s gospel. There was the Sceptical Scribes Society with their parish in Jerusalem. Its members were the lifeless experts on the Law and the Prophets. They copied out the Scriptures ever so carefully but believed not a word of what they copied. They could split hairs with the best, and they had learned from their teachers how to sit in judgment on the Word of God. They were professionals at this, and studiously avoided ever letting the Word sit in judgment on them. When the wise men came seeking the King of Kings, the Sceptical Scribes knew where He was, but they had no interest in seeking Him. If you believe in elitism, this would be the group to join.
And so today, pastors are faced with similar choices. We may do the rounds in Jerusalem (wherever that is for each of us) with the intelligentsia and the experts. Or we may find our fellowship with those pastors who watched their flocks near Bethlehem. I suspect it is the same fellowship that is described in Hebrews 13:12-16. Peter Connolly once called it the “fellowship of the outsiders.” That’s probably as good a name as any.
I wonder, how many pastors down through the centuries have quietly withdrawn from the Jerusalem fellowship and joined the unnamed fellowship of scholarly shepherds from the Judean hills?
I know one that did.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:7