Titles have always been somewhat of a challenge for me. Early in the life of our church, people wanted to know what they should call me. Reverend Patty? Brother Scott (a good Baptist term)? When asked, I would say, “Just call me Scott.” That didn’t seem to help. Out of respect and tradition, and maybe due in part to southern manners, people needed a title. So, I became Pastor Scott.
One of the reasons titles have been a challenge for me is that I, and the leadership of Grace, have always wanted to convey that every Christian has equal access to God through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ. We have never wanted to set up a class system in the church, where pastors and elders are seen as closer to God, with a greater righteousness and special powers that other Christians don’t have. We want to call every member to pray, serve, and live accountable to God. We want all of us to enjoy the freedom we share as children of the Father.
Another reason titles are challenging is because they can miscommunicate. I am a pastor, and I serve Grace Community Church. I gladly receive and carry out this calling (Ephesians 4:11). But, I am not The Pastor. That designation belongs to another, and I would never want to communicate that it belongs to me or any other leader at Grace.
Revelation 1-3 gives us a picture of Jesus Christ in the midst of his church. He walks among his people. He speaks a message to his church. In The Incomparable Christ, author John Stott says, “The risen Lord reveals himself as the chief pastor of his flock. Patrolling, inspecting, and supervising his churches, he has an intimate knowledge of them, and is able to pinpoint the seven marks that he would like every church to display: love for him and the willingness to suffer for him, truth of doctrine and holiness of life, and commitment to mission, together with both sincerity and wholeheartedness in everything.”
Jesus Christ is our chief pastor. He is the shepherd of our souls and the leader of our church. You may call me “Pastor Scott” if you’d like, as long as we all know that the One who walks among us (Revelation 2:1) has the authority over the church because he died to redeem it for himself. The One among us speaks a message to us because his words are true and right. He directs us through his Spirit as we hear and heed his words. This One is Jesus.
Have you met our Senior Pastor? This Sunday at Grace we will open the book of Revelation and see the vision of Jesus Christ as our chief pastor. We will hear the voice of Jesus as he tells us the kind of Christians and church he wants us to be. I hope you will read the first 3 chapters of Revelation with someone this weekend as you prepare for our time of worship together.