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The biblical pattern for pastoral ministry derives from both testaments of the Bible. Deviations from that pattern crept into the church during the second century A.D., and continued, becoming increasingly severe into the medieval period of the church. Nevertheless, isolated groups continued their efforts to follow the biblical pattern. These included Chrysostom and Augustine in the early church and the Paulicans, Cathari, Albigenses, and Waldenses during the medieval period.

The Reformation period witnessed a broader return to the biblical pattern through the magisterial reformation of Luther, Calvin. Also others and through the Anabaptist reformation. During the Modern period, Puritan leaders such as Baxter, Perkins, and Edwards have led a return to biblical principles in pastoral ministry. Bridges, Morgan, and Allen were nineteenth century examples of biblical ministers.


The late twentieth century has produced others, including Lloyd-Jones, Adams, and MacArthur. The study concluded that pastoral ministry in the early church laid the foundation for the modern pastors in the discharge of their duties as missionaries.




1.1    Background of the Study

In God’s gracious sovereignty, He chose to reconcile believers to Himself through Christ. In His marvelous plan He has committed to them the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18), based upon His Word of reconciliation (5:19). The office and function of the pastor has a key role in this ministry as he proclaims the mystery of godliness. His functions have a close association with the church, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15-16).

The duty and privilege of pastoral ministry has resulted in the development of the discipline of Pastoral Theology within the broader framework of Practical Theology. It has also produced a long procession of individuals who have filled the pages of church history in responding to God’s call to be faithful pastors and ministers of the truth. The pastoral ministry in the early churches a legacy for the modern pastors.


Sadly, traditions not measuring up to the standards of biblical scrutiny have skewed and embellished much of what has been called ministry. Thomas C. Oden notes, “Pastoral theology is a special form of practical theology because it focuses on the practice of ministry. With particular attention to the systematic definition of the pastoral office and its function” In early church history Christians understood “tradition” as “revelation made by God and delivered by Him to His faithful people through the mouth of His prophets and apostles.” It was something handed over, not something handed down, and was thus in accord with divine revelation.


In the period since the early church, “tradition means the continuous stream of explanation and elucidation of the primitive faith. Illustrating the way in which Christianity has been presented and understood in past ages. It is, that is, the accumulated wisdom of the past”. The latter approach to tradition has allowed much deflection from simple, primitive, biblical ministry. The pastoral ministry in the early churches a legacy for the modern pastors.

The author delineates at least six basic principles or marks of the “Believer’s Church”. Which represent common themes in various churches. They include (1) the Believers’ Church, although outwardly constituted by volunteers, is Christ’s church and not theirs. (2) membership in the Believers’ Church is voluntary and witting (done deliberately). (3) the principle of separation from “the world” is basic. Although it has often been misinterpreted. (4) mission and witness are key concepts for the Believer’s Church, and all members are involved. (5) internal integrity and church discipline are stressed; and (6) the proper concept of the secular in relationship to the sacred.


The primary example of an application of this last theme is to a state church in which a plethora of mind-sets and often conflicting traditions emerge in a study of pastoral ministry in history, though all traditions claim a lineage going back to the apostolic age. In every generation some have sought to return to the basic fundamentals of primitive biblical ministry. This pursuit of the “true church” or primitivism has led Littell and others to speak of the concept of the “Believers’ Church.


1.2    Statement of the Problem

Church included people of various ages and regions who followed the same principles of commitment to apostolic truth. These are believers who “gathered and disciplined a true church’ upon the apostolic pattern as they understood it.” The truth for these people was an ongoing pursuit, not a closed book in a “sectarian” sense. It was one, which “wanted fellowship with all who bore the Name and lived the covenant of a good conscience with God.”

Other committed believers like these within the wider framework of church history have sought above all. Else, the true, pure, primitive church. They have sought a church and a ministry patterned after the theology and practice of the book of Acts and the NT Epistles.


Such individuals and churches have appeared in various forms and have come from various settings. But all display a desire to return to a vibrant, biblical church and ministry. Some have journeyed further in their plans than in their practice. Some have advanced further than others in their quest for biblical ministry.

This work focuses upon a history of those who have sought to teach and practice biblical pastoral ministry. Examinations of efforts to follow biblical ministry patterns rather than accepted tradition and recurring ministry practices can serve as a helpful guide to a future generation with the same goals. Such historical study provides valuable insights through enabling Christians and churches to learn from the past.

Though history is not the unfolding of an unalterable tradition or a hermeneutical principle for interpreting ministry. “The flow of time bears divine sovereignty and providence on its wings and constitutes a general, not special, revelation of God himself.” Only the Bible can teach the true theology of pastoral ministry. But the working of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of church leaders through the centuries.


1.3    Objectives of the Study

The general purpose of this study was to examine the pastoral ministry in the early churches a legacy for the modern pastors.

The specific objectives of the study includes the following:

  1. To examine pastoral ministry in the early church legacy for the modern pastors.
  2. To investigate the challenges faced in pastoral ministry by pastors
  3. To proffer solutions to the problems encountered by pastors in the ministry from Biblical reference
  4. To highlight the role of the early church in pastoral ministry


1.4    Significance of the Study

The significance of the study includes the following:

First, the significance of the study rests on its effort to evaluate, and to expand the existing knowledge about pastoral ministry in the early church period.

Secondly, the study will serve as a educational tool in helping your pastors in their pastoral ministry and duties as well as to create awareness on the need for pastor to dedicate their duty, time and heart for God.


Thirdly, the work will be useful for further research purposes for religious scholars, theologians and students. To religion-church historians, pastors and the general public who may wish to conduct further research on pastoral ministry.

Finally, the study is very significant because of its contribution to knowledge, spreading of the Goodnews, growth and development of the pastoral ministry.


1.5    Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study of early church is complex and cumbersome since it is historical in nature. Based on this explanation, the study focused its attention on the study of pastoral ministry in the early church: a legacy for modern pastors. In the course of this study, the researcher encountered some challenges and problems in the field of study. Some of the challenges include the following:

  1. Frequent disappointment by respondents who are in position to give out information related to the topic
  2. The culture of silence and secrecy about pastoral ministry. Nobody wants to be open about the true nature of things in the ministry and as a result, vital information that would have been useful are not made available for the study. This greatly affected the study to some extent.
  3. Financial problem and time invariably attracted the timely completion of the work but all these factors notwithstanding, the work was interesting.


1.6    Methodology

The basic methodology used for the study is historical method. The method was useful because if systematically approached the matter by tracing the historical origin of early church and pastoral ministry.

The study make use of both primary and secondary sources of date collection namely: oral interview, observation, library books, magazines, journals, church bulletin, synod reports, internet source and some unpublished materials.


1.7    Organization of the Study

This study organized into four chapters

  1. Chapter one: This chapter examines the introductory aspect of the work
  2. Chapter two: This chapter examines the literature review of the project
  3. Chapter Three: Has to do with the pastor and the role of the early church in pastoral ministry.
  4. Chapter Four: Takes a look at the summary, conclusion and recommendation of the study.


1.8    Definition of Terms

PASTORAL THEOLOGY: Many have noted the elusive and complex nature of pastoral theology that makes the discipline hard to define. As Tidball points out, part of this “elusiveness stems from the multitude of labels which exist in this area and which seem to be used without any agreement as to their exact meaning or relationship.” As a further reason, he points out that the difficulty “stems from the fact that so many sub-disciplines of practical theology are spoken of as if they are pastoral theology.”


Summary and Conclusion

The church of Christ has always been, since its inception, a community of believers, sharing the Christian values of love, peace and goodwill to all mankind. It is important to remind ourselves that Christianity did not exist before Christ. With the advent of Christ, the Christian religion, different from all other forms of religions, came into existence. The pastoral ministry in the early churches a legacy for the modern pastors.

Christ is the Word made flesh, the source of man’s reintegration with God the Creator; after he had fallen out of grace as a result of sin. God’s reunion with man arises out of LOVE-not force. Thus the Christian religion is a religion of peace, a religion of choice. This, therefore, constitute the basic reason for Christian Evangelism and Discipleship.


The GOOD NEWS is that we must take this message of love to all mankind and through voluntary discipleship, re-intimate the world about the Love of God and His gift of Christ to the world. This is the only way to build the CHURCH-the Community of LOVE, the Community of BELIEVERS in God through Christ, the Community of the saved of mankind through Jesus our Lords. Christians must be always involved in socializing humanity to God, through Christian Evangelism.


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Joselyn Nya

My Name is Joselyn Nya A Publisher in Project Boss Team. I'm a Nigerian I'm a graduate/Educational Researcher. Project Boss Team. We are the best for Project materials and project writing services. Email:

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