The spiritual nurture and edification of the flock is a very important aspect of Christian service which was ordained by Christ Himself and will eventually be rewarded by Him: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for [dishonest gain], but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over Gods 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 (1 Pet. 5:2-4).
The pastoral aspect is sometimes undervalued by evangelists and others who tend to measure the results of preaching only in terms of the number of decisions that were made for Christ. It is true that this first step of salvation is very important, but the Bible also teaches that second-phase work demands even more time and commitment. While people are born again immediately upon receiving the Lord Jesus as Saviour, years of spiritual edification and development are needed before they would be reliable members of the local assembly or teachers with a wider ministry. Spiritual edification is clearly and essential follow-on from first phase evangelism: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you (Mt. 28:19-20).
Paul stayed in Corinth for eighteen months to provide new converts there with more advanced training in the Word of God (Acts 18:11). Peter, who received the emphatic order to tend the flock of the Lord (Jn. 21:15-17), devoted much time and care to the spiritual maintenance of converts by regular house visits and temple service (Acts 2:37-47).
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods (Mt. 24:45-47).