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Repost: Gospel Ministry is not you speaking truthfully about God

It is that… but “to another human”. Think about that for a moment; it’s an important aspect not to miss. You don’t just “do” ministry, you do ministry “to people”.

God made, became and uses humans. Ignoring the human aspect of ministry is a denial of God’s creation. You’re speaking to God-designed humans; humans who have been made to think, react, feel, engage, etc. Disregard for their humanness when speaking God’s words is a disregard for God’s design.

So how are you thinking about the humans you’re doing ministry to?

#Nexus2015 – Cross Shaped Ministry – What was missing…

(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections – see the previous 4 reflections here.)

I do feel there was an significant theme missing from the conference, and while I understand it’s a day conference and you can’t touch on everything, I think this is important. In fact, when I asked our staff team what ministry implications they think spring from the cross, they answered this one first… evangelism.

5. The cross defines the importance of gospel ministry

If God didn’t spare his only Son… if, when His eternal Son begged him for another way, He answered, “No – There is no other way”… then woe be to those who now suggest there is anything greater than declaring the work of His Son. As there is no other name compares to Jesus’ name to be saved, so there is no other work that compares to Jesus’ work of bringing all things together under himself. And we get to be part of that work!

Or put another way; The cross of Christ is the very heart of God’s message to the world! It’s not a message to the disciples, or to the Jews… its God’s message to the world. God does not put an enormous flaming message in the sky saying “I’m sorry” (as in Douglas Adam’s galaxy). Rather he puts His Son on a cross and says, “It’s done”.

6. The cross defines the extent of gospel ministry

At the cross, Jesus purchased men for God (Rev 5:9), he was the Sovereign Lord who bought people (2Pet 2:1), he reconciled all things in heaven and earth visible and invisible to God (Col 1:20), he was a ransom (Mark 10:45).

Everyone in the world, because of the cross, belongs to Jesus. He bought them. They are his. This means that evangelism is not simply inviting people to consider Jesus (though we rightly want people to do this), rather our driving motivation is the knowledge and conviction that Jesus is already their Lord. We are pleading for people to “Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2).

They are His. We are right to covet what rightly belongs to our Lord. The extent of the cross should make us want more and more and more and more people to bow the knee. The cross should cause in us a holy-discontent with the size of our churches.

7. The cross AND RESURRECTION provides the hope of gospel ministry

I know this might be a fudge, as the focus was really only meant to be on the cross, but when it comes to gospel ministry, the resurrection and the cross need to be held together don’t they?

The resurrected Christ now pours out his Spirit – and that spirit is the ONLY hope we have in gospel ministry. Without the resurrected Christ’s Spirit at work in us and those we serve there is no gospel ministry to speak of.

What’s more, Jesus promises to save people! The resurrected and ascended Christ should give us great hope and enduring confidence to keep praying for more, keep speaking to more, keep running events and courses and calling people to invite their friends… We should be courageous, risky, bold… not in our own strength, but because we believe that Jesus died to save and rose to reign.

The resurrected Christ should keep us from being disheartened, and keep us zealous in prayer and evangelism.

#Nexus2015 – Cross Shaped Ministry – Reflections Part 2

(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections.)

3. The cross sets the terms of gospel ministry

The cross was divine judgement for sin, and Jesus’ resurrection brings the Spiritual renewal and transformation from sin. This lead to one of the most practical comments on the day… we must beware a common shift in our churches where “sin” only refers to “personal brokenness”, where “growth” only refers to “self-improvement” and where “sacrifice” only refers to “the personal circumstances I’m in at the moment”.

No. Sin is the rebellion against God, the defiant disobedience of His commands in heart and actions. Growth is the miraculous spiritual transforming power that allows Christians to say no to sin and obey God in the midst of pain. Sacrifice is giving up things for a better heavenly reality – it hurts and we need to stop fooling ourselves that we’re doing it.

4. The cross shows us the the pattern of gospel ministry

Since we follow a master who was beaten, ridiculed, persecuted… we should expect the same things, and we should call others to follow.

This is similar to the 1st point about our personal motivations, but it must go further. When we call on others to follow and serve in our churches, we must be wary we are not suggesting they do it for their own glory, or in their own strength, or for us – the under-shepherd! Rather the “recruiting conversation” should be a call to serve their master and his plans.

Next post… “Nexus2015 – What was missing…”

#Nexus2015 – Cross Shaped Ministry – Reflections Part 1

(The recent Nexus2015 Conference “A cross shaped ministry” thought through the implications the cross has on how we think about gospel work in our churches. These are some of my personal reflections.)

1. The cross kills our wrong ministry motivations

We don’t do ministry to try to “pay back God”. We don’t do ministry to “stay in God’s good books”. We don’t do ministry because we’re afraid God will be angry with us if we don’t.

The cross of Christ, in our place, purchasing forgiveness and freedom from judgement saves us from all these errors. We are wise to go back to the cross and there remember it is all done, our heavily Father is pleased with us in Christ.

2. The cross kills our wrong worldly motivations

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Gal 6:14

Our union with Jesus, is a union with him in his death and resurrection. So much so that Paul says his relationship with the world is viewed through the lens of being crucified. I think that means the world sees him as good as dead, and he sees the world as good as dead.

In other words, the cross reminds us that this world is moving towards destruction to make way for a new creation to fit Jesus’ resurrected body and Jesus’ resurrected people.

This should affect our concerns, our desires, our goals for life. It should make us pause when thinking about our hopes and dreams – for they should not be filled with this world’s offerings, but with the next world’s promises. The cross means greed and coveting is even more inappropriate – if that were possible.

More to come…

Why most people get the ‘T’ in MTS wrong…

The Ministry Training Strategy (www.mts.com.au) is an awesome and much needed part of the Australian Christian landscape. But… most people think the ‘T’ in MTS is about being a Trainee… they think it’s the Ministry Trainee Strategy… and they’re wrong.

MTS is very keen on young men and women doing a two-year full-time hands-on word-ministry placement before further theological training and/or Pastoral Leadership roles. The MTS Movement wants to see thousands of people do these Traineeships. But MTS is not primarily about Trainees… the ‘T’ is MTS is really the Ministry Trainer Strategy.

MTS is about young men and women becoming Ministry Trainers – for the rest of their life.

Let me put this another way… if you were an MTSer and you’re not currently training (or recruiting) someone into full-time gospel-leadership… you’ve stopped being part of the Strategy, you’ve missed the point of MTS… that you’re never meant to leave, you’re never meant to stop calling others into full-time gospel-leadership. Your MTS involvement was never meant to end.

Are you a trainee who dropped out, or are you a trainer who’s still part of the strategy?

 

p.s. If you do want to get back on the Trainer “horse”, grab some keen Christians from your ministry and come along to the MTS Mission Minded Conference in Sept 11-13 2015.

When choosing your battles becomes laziness

The conventional wisdom is to “choose your battles” and it makes lots of sense. It’s a good application of 1Peter 4:8 “love covers a multitude of sins”. 

But choosing your battles can easily become and excuse for never entering into battles. 

The Lord’s servant should not quarrel, but should correct, rebuke and encourage. These all involve battles of some sort. 

So, as we choose our battles, we should also be aware of our own temptation to avoid entering battles at all. We are, after all, soliders dressed in the Lord’s armour. 

If their “attitude” is poor, should you tell them to just stop serving?

Well yes, it really depends on what you mean by having a “poor attitude”.

But extremes aside, if someone’s attitude is just “off” or “a bit grumpy” about being part of a ministry… what should you do? Tell them to stop serving until their attitude is right? Or, tell them to just righten-up their attitude?

I think there’s two lenses to consider this question… is there a human aspect? Is there a gospel aspect?

It could just be that life is all too much at the moment, and they’re stuffed. They might just be tired. That is, they might have a good gospel attitude (if you asked them) but they’re just not aware of how they are responding or how they’re appearing and speaking to other people. That means you’re in a position to offer wise counsel about how to plan to serve (avoid late night tv the night before, etc.) and how to smile and talk to people while they’re serving. You’re helping them do what they already think is a good thing to do… just better… without the apparent chip on their shoulder.

But, it could be that they don’t want to serve Jesus and his people, or they feel like that role is beneath them. They might think they shouldn’t really have to serve and that Christian service should be like the self-serve check-outs at the shops… sure you have to try a bit hard, but there’s certain perks to it?!? They might not think their life is Jesus’ possession.

Even in many of these circumstances, I’d want to suggest they keep serving while you work through it with them.

Because serving isn’t something Christians choose to do… it’s part of our DNA… we follow a servant king. Telling someone to stop serving is like telling a fish to stop swimming because they find the water too warm.

If possible have them keep on swimming, keep on serving and all the while, keep helping them feel the privilege of serving their saviour.