The Pastor’s Manual – Introduction

This Pastors’ Manual is the result of twenty years of experience as a senior pastor in churches in The Netherlands and over 10 years of teaching more than a thousand pastors in Africa, South-East Asia, and the Middle East. Most of these pastors live and work in the context of persecution and poverty. I did not only teach them; more than anything, I learned from them what it really means to follow Jesus.

When I travelled and met fellow pastors in their countries, I often remembered and quoted the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 1:11,12: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”

Thinking and praying about how to teach and encourage pastors around the world, I felt the Holy Spirit pointing out to me the words that Jethro spoke to his son-in-law Moses. Moses was leading the people of Israel through the desert to the promised land. Jethro saw that Moses was in charge of this large group of people all by himself and that both Moses and the people were wearing themselves out. Then Jethro gave Moses five words of advice aimed at equipping him to lead the people of God safely and responsibly to their destiny. These five words of advice form the five parts of this Pastors’ Manual.

Jethro said to Moses: “Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. (1)You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. (2)Teach them the decrees and laws and (3) show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But (4) select capable men from all the people …. and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but (5) have them bring every difficult case to you” (Exodus 18:19-22).
These verses brought me to the structure of The Pastors’ Manual, in which I changed the sequence a little bit for the sake of clarity. The five sections of The Pastors’ Manual are:

1. Take care of My sheep: the identity and role of the pastor
2. Passion for Preaching: preach the Word of God
3. Teach them to obey: teaching your people discipleship
4. Pastoral Care: how to deal with a wide variety of problems that you people face
5. Organising the church: what is church and how can you lead your church

My aim with this Pastors’ Manual is not to present a complete or comprehensive practical theology. All this manual does is give some Biblical and practical insights in these five fields in which every pastor works. This means that the practical application in your specific culture, context and situation is your own responsibility as a pastor. My longing is that with the help of The Pastors’ Manual you will be able to do so in a Biblical way.
I pray that The Pastors’ Manual might be a blessing to many pastors who are called to serve God and His church in their part of the world.

Reverend Ron van der Spoel,
Amersfoort, The Netherlands,
Spring 2016