Baptism and the New Testament Church

Baptism and the New Testament Church

© 2021 by C. O. Bishop

What do we actually know about the New Testament Church?

There are many books written on this subject. I don’t propose to rewrite them. I do think it would be well to summarize:

The New Testament Church was:

  1. Indigenous. In no case was an outside person, thing, or material necessary to the function of the local church. (Titus and Timothy were sent to help, later, but they were commanded to get the job done, and get out. 2 Tim 4:9, 21; Titus 1:5; 3:12)
  2. Self-governing. No Church was subject to a distant board of overseers, or any kind of hierarchic structure. (Acts 15 was a request by an apostle for confirmation, from other apostles. It was not a board of cardinals, [or other “birds”] stepping in to correct a local church which was in need of correction.)
  3. Self-supporting. No Church was to depend upon another for its sustenance, but every church was concerned about the others, and stood ready to help in time of need. (2 Corinthians 9)
  4. Self-Propagating. No Church depended upon professional or foreign evangelists to bring in souls, or to carry out the work of the ministry. Leaders were raised up from within the congregation, and every member was expected to function in the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-16) This is critical to the health of the church.
  5. Under the headship of Christ, with a plurality of human under-shepherds.
  6. There is no scriptural example of a singular leader in a church, except possibly Diotrephes, in 3rd John.
  7. Every example, either by anecdote or command, is “elders” (plural) of the “church” (singular).
  8. The headship of Christ is constantly underscored throughout the epistles.
  9. Free to fit the culture in which it has been planted.
  10. This, of course, is not a license to sin, but a recognition that the style of music, worship, and preaching will vary with the culture, and be used by God accordingly.
  11. If the church is unnatural to its environment, it becomes questionable what makes the people different—is it the indwelling presence of the person of Christ, transforming their life, and making them holy, saying “Come out from among them and be ye holy!”? Or is it the abiding presence of an outside influence that tells them “Live according to this creed, and God will be pleased.”? One is the voice of the Liberator; the other the voice of the Legalizer. One sets them free; the other enslaves them. We need to avoid error in this matter.
  12. Committed to the study and preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
  13. This one is obvious all through the epistles.
  14. The leadership gifts of the local assembly are all to bring about the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12)
  15. Committed to obedience to the Written Word, administered by the Living Word.
  16. This one is harder to achieve, but we have to prayerfully, respectfully pursue it with our whole heart. This is where we live or die. It is the foundation to everything else.
  17. Those who desire genuine submission to Christ continue to purify their own lives, and keep going back to the Word, for the purpose of transformation. And God honors this desire, and gives them an even stronger desire to draw near to Him, and walk with Him.
  18. Devoted to the Love of, Worship of, and Obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Love of, Care of, and mutual commitment to one another.
  19. This is the heart of what makes genuine Christianity work. If you don’t love the Brethren, you don’t love the Lord. And the reverse is true as well. If Christ is the center (imagine a spoked wheel) and we (“the spokes”) desire to draw near to Him, we can’t help desiring to draw near to one another as well.
  20. Devoted to fulfilling the Great Commission.
  21. This is not a grievous task, but the natural outworking of a spiritual “chain-reaction” that has begun in the life of every believer. If we are doing what the Lord wants us to do, we will have opportunity to share our faith, and we will desire to do so. (1 Corinthians 15:34; Romans 15:20)

What about Today?

It seems to me that we should continually make it our aim to make a clean start, unfettered by tradition, whether recent or ancient, except where those traditions are plainly in obedience to Scripture, or where they are harmless, and in an area in which we have freedom to choose, anyway. (Church potlucks, Bible Studies, etc.)

It further seems to me that we should make every effort to not carry “baggage” from our former church or churches, but focus our attention on “What does God’s Word actually say?” and “How can I rightly apply it to my life?” We need to step away from the old baggage and move forward, not be constantly looking back.

When Paul went into a new area, he went to the local gathering-places (the marketplace, waterhole or well, the synagogue, etc.), and he preached. When some responded positively, he spent more time with them, and taught them, confirming them in their new faith. He spent further time, training up leaders, and ordaining them to the work of shepherding the local flock. He gave them two ordinances (Baptism and the Lord’s Table), and adequate instruction, and then he left, and began again elsewhere. Later he sent men to further instruct, train and encourage the new believers, but the fledgling churches were largely left in God’s hands, and, (amazingly!) they mostly flourished!

Is there any real reason the above principles cannot be applied in North America, in the 21st century? I can’t see any. The only thing that has limited the abilityof the Holy Spirit is the availability of Man. When we don’t do what God says, usually it is because we don’t choose to, not because we “don’t understand.” The door to the truth is the will, not the intellect. It is important that we feed the understanding, and we seek to do just that, here at True Hope: but we must also appeal to the will of every believer, to make a decision to walk with Jesus; to attempt obedience to the instructions in the epistles.

When we share the Gospel of Christ with people, we give them information sufficient to make a decision to receive Jesus as their Savior. But we also appeal to the will, asking them to believe. Again, the door to the truth is the will, not the intellect. When Noah was building the Ark, he was a Preacher of Righteousness according to 2nd Peter 2:5. All those around him knew what he was building, and why. But the only ones who were persuaded to believe were his own family, who obeyed by faith, and entered that Ark.

We obey the Gospel by faith, placing our trust in the Blood of Jesus at the Cross, as complete payment for our sins, and as our only hope for eternal salvation.

As believers, we see that two ordinances have been given: Water Baptism, and The Lord’s Table. We explain the nature of the Lord’s Table every month when we take communion, but we haven’t talked much about baptism. Both are an outward testimony of something that has already occurred inwardly, and a physical, visible demonstration of a spiritual, invisible reality. Communion testifies through the symbols of the bread and the cup that “Jesus died for me: His body was torn and broken for me, and His Blood was shed for me!” As believers we take part in communion to testify of His sacrificial death, until He comes: which means we also express our confident assurance that He is indeed returning!

When we celebrate communion, we are testifying that Jesus’s blood was the full payment for our sins. (Remember the Passover Lamb: the people who placed themselves under the blood of that Lamb for protection against the Wrath of God, did not just “stand there and watch:” they each ate of that lamb!) We eat (as we were told to do) as a commemoration of the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the whole world. By faith we are laying our hands upon that sacrifice, and claiming it as the substitute for our own lives. And in doing so, we honor Jesus before the world, proclaiming His death until He comes.

What about Baptism?

There are two types of baptisms taught in the New Testament: one of them is absolutely necessary for salvation, but has nothing to do with water. The other does involve water, and is in no way required for salvation…but it does stand as a matter of obedience, even if we don’t fully understand it.

Baptism by the Holy Spirit

Turn to 1st Corinthians 12:13. This chapter is entirely given to understanding the gifts of the Spirit, and how He, the Holy Spirit, builds the church by giving appropriate gifts to each believer. He makes the choice as to who will do what task, and, just as individual cells in a body are not given the option to choose their individual tasks or locations in the body, believers are given their assignments by God, the Holy Spirit. Without going into a lot of detail about the gifts of the Spirit, this verse, in the midst of the larger passage, tells us a key point: every single believer has been “Baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ.” That fact is what makes you a “Member” of the Body of Christ at large.

When we talk about “Church Membership,” this is the only kind of membership God addresses. Every member of the Body of Christ is expected to find a local assembly of like-minded believers and attach themselves to that assembly and serve there, as a functioning part of the Body of Christ. Every member is to function.

Some churches have a “membership roll,” as if they are a country club, or something. No such idea is suggested in scripture. Some literally require that you be water-baptized (again) into that church, for membership. This also is unbiblical. Some require that you be “vetted” by a governing board, and deemed “worthy” to be a part of their organization. I personally find that to be repugnant. If Jesus’s Blood at the Cross, which made me clean enough to stand before a Holy God, and address Him as Father, is not enough to make me “worthy” to be in some human outfit, then I don’t belong there! (Is there “church discipline” in the Bible? Yes, but it has nothing to do with membership. We will discuss that at another time.)

Baptism by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ is the only kind of baptism necessary for salvation, and it occurs the moment you place your faith in Jesus as your Savior, even if you are unaware that it is happening. So let’s talk about the otherkind of baptism: water baptism.

Water Baptism

First, let’s discuss the actual meaning of the word, “baptize.”

Oddly enough, the Greek word for “baptize” is pretty much just “baptize.” The problem was that when the first English Bibles were being published (particularly the King James Version which was “authorized” by King James, the then monarch of England, who was also the head of the Anglican Church)…since they had to not contradict the Church of England, the translators could not write in the actual meaning of the word for baptism. The Church of England (which was scarcely removed from Catholicism,) was practicing baptism by sprinkling, while the actual meaning is “To Dip!” The Greek word “baptizō”means “immersion!” The intensive verb “baptizō” is most frequent derivative of the root “baptō”, which is translated, and is always translated “Dip.”

In the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words, by Lawrence O. Richards (pp. 100-101,) under Baptizō, it says: “Baptō is the basic verb. It means ‘to dip in’ or ‘to dip under.’ It is often used of dipping fabric in a dye. Baptizō is an intensive form of baptō. From early times it was used in the sense of immersing.”

So… had they consistently translated the word to what it actually means, John the Baptist would have been John the Dipper! But when Jesus “dipped” the sop in the cup, and passed it to Judas, the word “baptō” was actually translated: and no one called that a baptism!

We can see, then, that the concept involved immersion, and that the result of that immersion is to fully identify the thing being dipped, with the substance it was dipped in. The sop Jesus handed to Judas was soaked in whatever was in the cup. Cloth that has been dipped in a certain pot of dye is permanently identified with that specific pot of dye. In fact, all the cloth that came through that specific pot is together identified as a specific “dye-lot.” If you have been born again through faith in the Blood of Jesus, then The Holy Spirit has immersed you into the Body of Christ, according to 1st Corinthians 12:13, and you are permanently identified with Him in every way.

Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized so that He was identified with the message of John: John preached the Gospel of the coming Kingdom—the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the 1000-year reign of Jesus on earth. Jesus is the promised King! So He needed to be identified with the Promised Kingdom.

We practice water Baptism for the same reason as we practice Communion: we were told to do so! It commemorates in the life of each believer the fact that the Holy Spirit has already placed us into the Body of Christ. He has immersed us into Jesus, so that we are fully identified with Him, forever, in every way. We do this once, as a believer, to testify of our new position in Christ. It is not how we “join a church,” or “repent of our sins” or any other such thing. This is a believer’s baptism.

What happens if you don’t get baptized? Nothing, as far as I can see: But Jesus commanded the eleven to go into the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” There is a spiritual “chain reaction,” there, which requires that this command, called the “Great Commission” is our marching orders, just as it was for the eleven. And that includes believer’s baptism. So, even though we may not really be sure how it works as a testimony, we do practice water baptism by immersion. We do not require it of anyone, and only offer it as it is requested.

It is interesting to read in 1st Corinthians 1:10-17, where we can see how the Apostle Paul felt about Baptism. He saw that it had already fostered some divisions among the brethren: (“Paul baptized me!” “Well, Apollos baptized me!” …etc.)

Paul said he was thankful he had only baptized a handful of them, and concluded that “Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the Gospel.” Paul did practice water baptism, but it did not have a very high priority in his mind. The reality (being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ”) came about through the preaching of the Gospel. Water baptism was just a picture of the real thing.

Water baptism does not require any special clothing or ritual, or oath-taking or any other such thing: upon public confession of faith in Jesus and His finished Work at the Cross, a believer is qualified for water baptism, as a step of obedience and a testimony of the new birth.

One person in our fellowship, already a believer, has requested water baptism, so, next week we plan to fulfill that ordinance for that person! If there is anyone else who would also like to be baptized, please let one of us know, and we will extend the offer to all believers. Rick Flemmer and I will serve together to carry out the baptisms.

Next week is also communion Sunday, so we will be observing both ordinances of the church on the same day. That seems pretty special to me!

Lord Jesus, please help us to focus our attention on you, and not the “outward things” that so easily attract our eyes and our minds. Let us learn to walk with You in obedience.

The Work of the Shepherds: Part One

The Work of the Shepherds: Part One

© C. O. Bishop, 7/5/16 THCF 7/17/16 Revised 2021

1st Peter 5:1-4; Ezekiel 34:1-22; Acts 20:17, 28-30;

Introduction:

The next three weeks will lean more heavily toward “teaching” than “preaching,” as we are in a passage that gives some very specific directions, and we need to understand the concepts involved: Teaching is for the purpose of building understanding.

We have been working our way through the book of 1st Peter, and we have finally come to the place where Peter briefly describes the Shepherds, or Elders (also called Bishops or Overseers, in other places.) There are three Greek words applied to this office, all referring to the same individuals, and each translated two different ways, as we will see.

Here in 1st Peter 5:1-4, two of those words are used, and the third is implied:

1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

So, the Chief Shepherd (Jesus) is the one to whom the elders answer, and their primary job, (as under-shepherds) is to Feed the Flock…in this particular passage, the word “feed” is “poimanate,” which is just the verb form of “shepherd,” so, perhaps “tend” is an appropriate understanding of what it implies, in this passage.

Structure and Function of the New Testament Church

We sometimes talk about “New Testament Churches,” and how they are organized, how they function, etc. The primary principle is that Jesus is the Head, and every member is to function.

One critical aspect of the whole picture, though, is how the spiritual leadership of a New Testament Church is supposed to function. We need to know how to identify those leaders, and what they are supposed to be doing. Their various job titles tell us a little about what to expect of them. Those leaders are called by six different words, in the New Testament:

  1. Elders (Presbytery)  
  2. Bishops (Overseers)
  3. Shepherds (Pastors,)


The words “Pastors” and “Presbytery,” in English, are only used once, each: but all six English words are in reference to the same individuals, and all six come from one of three Greek words:

  1. Presbuteros (translated either Elders or Presbytery—it literally means older persons)
  2. Episkopos (translated either Overseers or Bishops—it literally means supervisors)
  3. Poiménes (translated either Pastors or Shepherds—and it literally means shepherds.)

For the sake of this study, I will refer to them all as “shepherds”, mostly, because that is what the Old Testament usually calls them, and, ironically, that is where we will find the most information about their job. You may wonder why we look in the Old Testament to find information about the New Testament job of shepherding: It is because sheep haven’t changed, so the job of shepherding has also not changed. When we read Psalm 23, we can still apply it to our lives, today. Thus, the work of the shepherd as described in Ezekiel 34 is also still valid.

Further, we will break the teaching into three parts: the first (this lesson) will concern itself with the work, or responsibilities, or “job” of the shepherd; the second will begin addressing the qualifications for the job, and the third will complete the qualifications and deal a little with the selection and care of Elders or overseers. We will discuss the job of the Deacons separately, when we come to it, as it is a different job, with a different description, though very similar qualifications.

The Work of the Shepherds

The Work of the Shepherds can be seen in two ways, since, in the New Testament, there are two Greek words used for the task. The most common usage is simply a verb-form (poimainé) of the noun “Shepherd” (poimén), so that doesn’t shed much light, unless we can go and find out what a shepherd actually does…and we will attempt to do just that.

The second word (bosko) however, is a narrower term, meaning, specifically, to “feed.” It is only used eight or nine times in scripture, and always means “to feed,” including when it is applies to animals feeding themselves in a pasture. Jesus used both of these words in the commands he directed to Peter: (John 21:15-17 “If you love me, feed (bosko) my lambs; tend (poimainé) my sheep, feed (bosko) my sheep!”). He used them both in the same conversation, but the two words are not the same, so we have to address both. Let’s look at the “feeding” idea first.

“Feed the Flock”

God commands the Shepherds (in all dispensations) to “feed the flock.” He refers to His Word as the “food” that his sheep need. (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:11-14, etc.) We could say that a person is “feeding the sheep” if all they do is to read the Word in public. And, in fact, that form of “feeding” is commanded. (1st Thessalonians 5:27; 1st Timothy 4:13.)

But teaching and exhortation from the scriptures are also commanded (1st Timothy 4:13; 2nd Timothy 4:2), and exemplified all through the Bible.  There are five ways described in scripture to ingest, or feed upon the Word of God:

  1. Hearing the Word,
  2. Reading the Word,
  3. Studying the Word,
  4. Memorizing the Word, and
  5. Meditating on the Word

Collectively, those five approaches to God’s Word can give us a very solid grasp of its content.

All five are commanded, and the feeding of the flock demands all five in the Shepherds’ lives; this is not supposed to be a “do as I say, not as I do” sort of concept. And Peter specifically commands that the elders serve as examples to the flock, in verse 3.

1st Corinthians 14:3 says that a prophet is to speak, to provide exhortation, edification, and comfort. The person we frequently call a preacher, is what the scripture actually calls a prophet (Greek “prophete:” meaning “one who speaks for God.”) Heis to speak to meet specific needs within the body (exhortation, edification and comfort), as God brings these needs to his attention. (This is slightly different than the Old Testament prophet, mainly because when there was very little of God’s Word in written form, He sent prophets to speak His Word to His people…and often it including “telling the future.” Not so much, in the New Testament.)

The collective leadership of any given body of believers should be closely enough in contact with the members to know what the general need is. And all of the leaders are to be studying and meditating upon God’s word, themselves: feeding themselves, with the intent to meet those needs. That’s all part of feeding the flock.

A teacher (Greek “didaskalos) simply seeks to build accurate understanding of the scripture, including the spiritual truths and potential application to any believer’s life,) in a general or specific sense. This is a specific gift, by the way, not to be confused with preaching, though the two overlap quite a bit. (I am more of a teacher than a preacher, but both gifts are needed.)

The actual word “preacher” (Greek “kerux”), is also sometimes used in scripture, and it has a similar definition: a “declarer,” a “proclaimer,” or an “announcer.” It only occurs as a noun three times in scripture, but, along with the verb-form (“kerusso,” which occurs 60 times; mostly in the Gospels and in the book of Acts) it seems that when it occurs, it is primarily directed to a different audience: A “preacher” in scripture, seems to be one who “declares” the Gospel and the Person of Christ to those who have not heard. (It is not a church office or gift.) That would explain why it is very common in the Gospels and the Acts, but much less common in the epistles. For example, Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and was rejected by his audience.

Because a “prophet” is one who “speaks for God,” his work could include the work of the “preacher;” but the New Testament prophet is specifically called to meet the spiritual needs of the church. In our culture, when we use the word “preacher,” we usually just mean a church-leader: a pastor, regardless of his gifting. So the different words can be a little confusing.

All these ideas are part of “feeding the flock,” and all of them could fall under the definition of the Greek word “bosko.” But what about Shepherding? Shepherding clearly includes “feeding the flock”, but also addresses the rest of the job. Is it really enough to just have “great words of encouragement or explanation” coming from the pulpit and from Bible classes? Evidently it is not, because Jesus said to do both the “feeding” and the “tending” or “shepherding!”

“Shepherd the Flock”

What does the Scripture actually say about Shepherds?Looking at the entirety of God’s word, regarding shepherding, at least six things become clear. We will only address three today:

  1. Sheep need a Shepherd. Sheep without a Shepherd are in immediate and deadly danger, even if no predator seems to be around. And, regarding the human flock of God, the greatest and deadliest predator in the world is around, according to 1st Pet 5:8. (Be sober! Be vigilant; for your enemy the devil walketh about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour!”)
    Even without the threat of predators, though; as sheep, we often don’t know the difference between good pasture and bad, still waters and treacherous, safe paths and dangerous ones, apart from our Great Shepherd leading us—(Psalm 23:2, 3).

    We sing “Savior, like a shepherd, lead us; much we need thy tender care….” This is a direct reflection on God’s determination to be the Shepherd of His Flock (Genesis 49:24, Ezekiel 34:1-10). We need Jesus, the Great Shepherd!
  2. God has assigned human shepherds. These shepherds are “sheep”, too, but they have been assigned the task of performing the work of shepherds. And they cannot do a faithful job apart from the direct leading and control of Jesus Christ, the true Shepherd. (John 15:5; Psalm 127:1) God holds them accountable for his flock. (Ezekiel 34, James 3:1; Hebrews 13:17) This is a huge responsibility: not to be taken lightly or with wrong motives.
  3. The Work of the Shepherd has clear definition:

1st Peter 5:1-4 says that elders (Greek presbuteros) (who are also shepherds and overseers) are to:

  • Feed the flock of God. (KJV): (Here again, the Greek word is the verb poimanate: “to shepherd, or tend:” This would certainly include teaching, but it also includes the full scope of shepherding responsibilities.)
  • Take the oversight thereof (be an overseer) Take responsibility for the well-being of the flock. (Verb-form of episkopos…episkopountes.)
  • Do so willingly, not grudgingly. If you resent the responsibility you are not approaching the job with the attitude God says it requires!
  • Not for the sake of money. This does not mean that elders are not to be supported in their work, but it does meant that money had better not be their motive for serving.
  • Not lording it over the flock, (You aren’t anything “special!” Don’t act as though you are! Don’t be “bossy!”) but instead, to
  • Lead by example. The shepherds are to be living in such a way that the rest of the flock can “do as they do” and be confident that they are doing right (1st Corinthians 11:1.)
  • Expect a reward from Christ, (the “arch-shepherd,” or Chief shepherd) at His coming, for faithful service. (The contrast would be one who expects his reward from humans. Balaam fell into that trap.)

Ezekiel 34:1-16 (Read it!) says the shepherds are assigned seven tasks:

  1. Feed the sheep: (This means a steady provision of nourishment from God’s Word.)
  2. Strengthen those who are diseased: (This may imply corrective teaching, or encouragement and help to change self-destructive patterns.)
  3. Heal those who are sick: (very similar: promoting spiritual healing through Godly counsel. There is no indication that shepherds all have the gift of physical healing.) This could include corrective teaching to overcome previous misconceptions.
  4. Bind up those who are broken: (This may mean promoting forgiveness for past injuries by other believers, or acceptance of God’s Grace to heal those emotional wounds.)
  5. Seek out (and bring back) those who have been driven away: (Sometimes the wounded ones flee the flock, because they are unable to bear the stress of being around the one(s) who hurt them. Or, sometimes they simply are angry, and need to deal with the anger.)
  6. Seek the lost: (refers to both evangelism and reconciliation of the backslidden.)
  7. Prevent them from becoming prey to predators: (Guarding is implied, but not stated in this passage; it is clearly stated in Acts 20:28-30.)

This passage provides a checklist, against which any shepherd can compare himself and see whether he is actually doing the job he was sent to do. It also is a checklist we use when observing whether someone is called to that job: they will begin to do those things, simply because that is their gifting.

Acts 20:17, 28-30: the elders (v.17; also identified as shepherds and overseers) are to:

  • Guard themselves—recognize that they themselves are also in danger,
  • Guard the flock against predators (sometimes coming from among the leaders),
  • ‘Feed’ the flock (KJV), or ‘shepherd’ the flock (the Greek word here is poimainein)
  • Be overseers. (Greek “episkopos bishops…supervisors.)

There are whole books written on the topic of Church leadership, not all of them even close to Biblical in focus, but I am not attempting to replace them today: I am only directing your attention to what the Bible clearly says about them. Some consider these ideas to be outdated, or no longer relevant for one reason or another. The Word of God has to stand as a unit. It is either eternally relevant, or it is not.

We will return to the topic of Church leadership next week:

If you want to study ahead, please read the qualifications for leadership in 1st Timothy 3:1-8, Titus 1:5-9, and re-read today’s scripture in 1st Peter 5:1-4. Remember that theseare not a “smorgasbord,” from which we can select our “favorite character traits,” but a comprehensive prerequisite: things that must all be true before a man is considered for the office of an Elder.

One thing we will see as we study this topic is that the leadership is always to be plural. There is only one example of a “solo” pastor of a church in scripture, and it was a bad example; a man who wanted to “be the star:” he wanted the preeminence. (3rd John 9, 10.) We want to avoid that sort of thing, and the best way to avoid it is to do things the way God says to do them!

Lord Jesus, you encouraged us to “pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest, that he send forth laborers into the harvest.” We echo that prayer, and ask that you also raise up shepherds, and make us a healthy flock, honoring you in every way.