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Paul, the Areopagus & the Why of evangelism

We all find evangelism hard. Admitting that is the first step to dealing with it. But what’s the second step? What gets in the way of people taking the next step with their acquaintances, friends and family?

Our Mission Pastor, Sam Hilton recently gave an excellent talk from Acts 17 that highlighted 3 big reasons. I’d recommend you listen to it. If you’re training an MTSer, it would be a great resource to listen and review together.

  1. We don’t understand the non-Christian world-view enough
  2. We don’t get distressed about people’s idolatry enough
  3. We get caught in the same idolatry, and don’t long for God’s glory enough

Have a listen here.

 

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.

Learn by preaching small passages or massive passages… but not medium

A common trap for young preachers is the medium length passage… its like 15-30 verses.

See, you can get your head around it. You can spend 10hrs preparing it and exegeting it and know what it says. But you’ll want to preach all of it. You’ll drag your listeners through all the ins and outs of the passage, and you won’t be able to hold them.

See, if you tried to preach 100 verses, no-one would expect you to touch on all of them… not even you! You’d be okay with letting some ideas through to the keeper. And if you preach 5-10 verses, you’d have the time to unpack everything properly, while still being able to apply it and think about your audience and presentation.

So, until you’ve learned to be okay with skipping bits, avoid the middle-sized passages.

This is all part of why we give our MTS Apprentices middle-sized passages! ;)

When they say, “Church needs some people to NOT do full-time ministry”…

It seems like a sound argument… If 100% of Christians tried to do paid-ministry, there’d be no-one to pay them. Therefore the church needs people who will faithfully decide to not do paid-ministry. Right?

Even though the statement is “true” it fails on three counts.

  1. It’s putting the cart before the horse. You don’t make a decision about entering paid-ministry on the basis of whether other people are doing it. You offer your life to God, you work it out with him – regardless of what other people are doing. What if God actually wants lots of people going into paid ministry!?!?
  2. No-where near 100% of people are going into full-time ministry. In fact, only about 50% of people who start on the road to paid-ministry end up in paid-ministry. Our church has a congregation of uni-students & grads, and only about %4 of them start on the road to full-time paid ministry!
    But think about all the other churches around Australia where students and grads are NOT being challenged to consider paid-ministry!!! That 4% ends up closer to 1%.
    Your church may not need more paid-ministers, but Jesus’ church does. So train at your church and take it to other churches.
  3. The argument implies that people who choose to “stay in the workforce” will be just as helpful to the gospel by being able to pay for others DOING paid-ministry (as compared to going into paid-ministry themselves).
    Anecdotally, this is false. If it were true, wouldn’t these people be making the same financial sacrifices those entering FT ministry make? The average MTS Scholarship is about $25-$30k. If you really believe the argument above, doesn’t that mean you should invest every cent you earn above $25k into gospel workers – people who are doing MTS?

The similarity between Ministry and Magic…

…it’s only cool until you know how its done.

Every kid who’s seen a magic trick starts imagining themselves as a magician. That’s why toy stores sell those starter-magic kits. But if they sold so many, wouldn’t there me so many more magicians?

The reality is, as soon as a kid realises that the magic trick is more trick than magic, they quickly lose interest. Doing magic is only cool when it’s amazing. When you’re just hiding a card in the other hand, it’s boring.

Inviting young men and women to consider a lifetime of gospel ministry is a bit like that. They see you doing “impressive” and “amazing” Christian ministry…. they hear the bible knowledge and wisdom… wow! But when they start doing it, they soon realise that ministry is hard work, taking hours of preparation time, years of just reading the bible one your own and with others. Regurgitating the same wisdom you’ve been given over the years. It loses it’s shine.

Which is sad, because ministry really is the closest thing to real magic in the end. By the grace of God, we see people move from death to life. God uses us to raise the dead, proclaim forgiveness of sins, melt hearts of stone, rejoice for eternity. Amazing.

Reblog: What MTS experience is worth having before college?

After catching up with some Moore College students who just finished first year, I was reminded how the type of MTS experience you get is so important.
College doesn’t teach you how to “do ministry”; it doesn’t teach methods, principles or how to apply God’s word to people’s lives. It doesn’t even teach you “the bible” like a Sunday sermon does. College teaches you to be an expert of the bible, it’s language, it’s doctrine, and supporting disciplines.
That’s why the ideal MTS experience gets you to read the bible (1:1) with as many people as you can. It’s basic ministry; bible, you and someone to love. It’s the best prep for preaching, because you’re learning “how” to teach the bible. It’s the best prep for college, because you spend heaps of time in the bible. It’s the best prep for ministry because you learn how to become dependant on God and his Word and prayer.
The principles and methodologies you take to college will likely not change, college will simply deepen them.

Things you can’t really understand until you’ve been in full-time ministry…

There’s nothing super-godly about being in “paid FT ministry”, but there are some things that you just couldn’t know without experiencing them first-hand…
(This is why MTS is so important!!! No matter how much ministry you’ve been doing, or how you’ve seen your parents be in full-time ministry… It’s not about knowing it, but rather how YOU handle it).

  • Ever organised a wedding? Helpers, cars, equipment, outlines, songs, rsvps, invites… That’s what ppl in FT ministry do every week. Again and again and again. And not just church – It feels like 50% of your effort is just spent convincing people to come to things that you know will help keep them from hell!
  • Being able to devote more time to a ministry doesn’t make it easier, rather it increases your responsibilities. You are held more responsible for more aspects of it.
  • Being more responsible means the buck stops with you… You are the one who makes the decisions, rather than the one who complains about the decisions made. You get criticism and slandered by people you’ve tried to love when you have made decisions that you know are for the good of the gospel. Some people will refuse to listen and understand.
  • Your favourite thing in the world becomes something you’re paid to do and you need to take breaks from. So you have to change how you take time off. Friends become your flock, and your flock can become your friends or your foes.
  • You have to deal with very wrong expectations. On one hand, your love for people is devalued because they think you’re doing it “just because it’s your job”. On the other hand, your love for people is over-valued because they think that their pastor’s attention is more special that their brothers and sisters in Christ. They “need” you when they really don’t, and they claim that “the church” hasn’t loved them if you don’t give them everything they ask for.
  • You know that you’re just another sinful-yet-forgiven member of Christ’s family, but people expect you to be special somehow. You make bad decisions that will hinder growth, that will turn people away, that will get blown out of proportion. You don’t know what’s the best thing to do, but you have to do something.
  • People want you to love them more than you love God. They don’t know they want this, but their actions show they do. Especially when loving God means saying hard things to them and calling for repentance.
  • Bible reading and Prayer becomes your best friend or your source of depression. Keep doing them.
  • You see the gospel in an amazing new light (not different – just fresh). Because you’re totally depending on the gospel to change people and you see people reject the gospel, ignore the gospel, have the gospel explode their world view.