According to the OPC Form of Government VI.2, the aim of the ministry of the gospel is to “seek…the spiritual profit of those with whom [the minister] labors.” We see Paul doing this when he says in Philippians 1:8-11:
“For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”
In their common calling as Christians, pastors are included in Paul’s prayer. But in their special calling as ministers, pastors are called to join with Paul in shepherding their flocks toward these ends.
To help ministers fulfill this ministry, Jesus assigns them several key responsibilities. We will help you evaluate your readiness to fulfill these responsibilities throughout your internship. An self-evaluation at the beginning of your internship will help us create a development plan that is tailored to you.
Here are the kinds of questions, based on OPC Form of Government, Chapter VI.3, VIII, that you can use to you evaluate your readiness for ministry:
- What are the most important parts of being sound in the faith? In what ways do you demonstrate these? In what ways do you not?
- How good are you at learning new things?
- Do you exhibit the holiness of life becoming to the gospel?
- Are you able to exercise wisdom and discretion?
- Do you rule your own house well?
- Do you have a good report of those that are outside the church?
- What does it mean to be an undershepherd?
- How does the pastor, working with the elders, govern the congregation?
- What does it mean to feed the flock?
- What does it mean to tend the flock?
- How do pastors lead congregations in all the service of Christ?
- Are you able to conduct the public worship of God?
- Can you pray for and with the flock as the mouth of the people unto God?
- Can you feed the flock by the public reading and preaching of the Word of God?
- Can you teach, convince, reprove, exhort, comfort, and evangelize, expounding and applying the truth of Scripture with ministerial authority?
- Can you administer the sacraments?
- Can you bless the people from God?
- Can you shepherd the flock and minister the Word according to the particular needs of groups, families, and individuals in the congregation?
- Can you catechize by teaching plainly the first principles of the oracles of God to the baptized youth and to adults who are yet babies in Christ?
- Can you visit in the homes of people?
- Can you instruct and counsel individuals?
- Can you train people to be faithful servants of Christ?
- Can you minister to the poor?
- Can you minister to the sick?
- Can you minister to the afflicted?
- Can you minister to the dying?
- Can you make known the gospel to the lost?
OPC Form of Government, Chapter VI.3, VIII
VI.3 Essential qualifications for ministers
He who fills this office shall be sound in the faith, possess competency in human learning, and be able to teach and rule others. He should exhibit holiness of life becoming to the gospel. He should be a man of wisdom and discretion. He should rule his own house well. He should have a good report of them that are outside the church.
VIII Essential duties for ministers
Christ’s undershepherd in a local congregation of God’s people, who joins with the ruling elders in governing the congregation, is called a pastor. It is his charge to feed and tend the flock as Christ’s minister and with the other elders to lead them in all the service of Christ. It is his task to conduct the public worship of God; to pray for and with Christ’s flock as the mouth of the people unto God; to feed the flock by the public reading and preaching of the Word of God, according to which he is to teach, convince, reprove, exhort, comfort, and evangelize, expounding and applying the truth of Scripture with ministerial authority, as a diligent workman approved by God; to administer the sacraments; to bless the people from God; to shepherd the flock and minister the Word according to the particular needs of groups, families, and individuals in the congregation, catechizing by teaching plainly the first principles of the oracles of God to the baptized youth and to adults who are yet babes in Christ, visiting in the homes of the people, instructing and counseling individuals, and training them to be faithful servants of Christ; to minister to the poor, the sick, the afflicted, and the dying; and to make known the gospel to the lost.