Pastoral work is concerned always with the gospel of God’s redemption in, through, and as Jesus Christ, no matter the presenting problem that someone brings. Pastoral work, by definition connects the gospel story, that is, the truths and realities of God’s saving economy, with the actual lives and situations of the people.
Purves, Reconstructing Pastoral Theology.
I love this. Why do I sometimes make pastoral work more complicated? If all I do is to bring the gospel to bear in the lives of those whom I serve, it will be enough.
Colossians 1:5-6 says that ‘the word of truth, the gospel…is bearing fruit and growing – as it also does among you’. (Yes, that was from memory!)
I know that the gospel bears fruit and grows when new people come to faith, but I think that this verse also describes the ongoing impact of the gospel in the lives of believers. Simple though this message is, it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe. And so, when the gospel of Jesus Christ is brought to bear on my life, on yours, something happens which no other message or method can accomplish.
The gospel is not just for those who are coming into the faith; it’s not just the spiritual milk, though I have heard this said by many.
It is also the meat by which mature believers are fed and their lives radically reorientated in the One about whom the gospel tells.
And when, as a pastor, I can connect the gospel ‘with the actual lives and situations of the people’, then – and only then – I will have succeeded in the trust given to me.