Wednesday, 27 February 2008

What is ministry all about?

Over on Nothing New under the Sun Byron has been asking some pertinent questions regarding the overall ministry of the church in the way that Jesus was a friend of sinners. He then asks some questions regarding the way ministry students think about where they will minister and how that will effect their future standing among their peers.

Tim Keller is interviewed by Anthony Sacramone about his book and during his interview Tim says

I think the most important sentence in the book on that subject was, “All Christians believe all these things, but no Christian believes just these things.” So I said, “Here’s the Apostles Creed, and the Trinity, the deity of Christ, he died for our sins, saved by grace, you’ve got to be a part of the Church”—right? OK. I said, “All Christians believe all these things. If you don’t believe all these things, you’re not a Christian: You’re in a cult, you’re a member of another religion, or you’re a secular person.”
Anthony then asks him about his generous support and giving towards church planting.

Yes, because I don’t believe you can reach New York with the gospel if you only plant Presbyterian churches. There are all kinds of people who’ll never be Presbyterians. It just doesn’t appeal to them. Some people are going to be Pentecostals, some people are going to be Catholics. I mean, I know that sounds—I’m not talking about that certain cultures reach certain people. It’s much more complicated than that. Even though there’s something to that. We all know that certain cultures seem to have more of an affinity toward a certain kind of Christian tradition than others, but I wouldn’t want to reduce it to that at all. I would just say that I only know that God seems to use all these kinds of churches to reach the whole breadth of humanity, and so that’s why we give money to start churches of other denominations, and give free training to it. And we’ve done about a hundred in the New York area, where we’ve helped people. It’s very important to us.

David McKay links to Craig Johnson's blog bloggledegook and observes what a name. Craig wrote a good post regarding a book by Iain Murray on what Presbyterians can learn from John Wesley.

"The system Wesley inaugurated, instead of reviving debate on whether churches should be Episcopal, Independent, Presbyterian or whatever, aimed first at spreading the gospel by every available means. And the Methodist structure was flexible enough to operate effectively across the world - whether in England, or among the black slaves of the American South, or in Fiji, Tonga and other islands of the Pacific. What is beyond dispute is that in gospel effectiveness Wesleyan Methodism often outstripped other bodies; it reached slaves, soldiers, convicts and cannibals; it gave birth to vibrant churches which multiplied themselves as missionary agencies. This should at least make us cautious about dismissing the structure in terms of mere expediency...

And indeed much to the disgust of some church people the Gospel was taken out into all the world and even shook up the established church to do likewise.

I think Wesley prompts us to re-examine the relationship between zeal for the salvation of souls and church practices and procedures. We are prone to think that variations and changes in church order means laxity, but could it be that we need to re-examine what is most suited for the advance of the gospel in our generation? Is it not possible we could be in danger of allowing theory to prevent the introduction of changes that could be of blessing to people who are presently lost and far from God?" [pages 148-149]
On another of my favorite blog, Together for the Gospel Mark Dever wrote an article called Togetherness and the Real Front Line. There he says

The real front line is not between Calvinist evangelicals and Arminian evangelicals. It is between those who are lost in their sins and those who have been saved by God's sheer grace in Christ.
He then goes on to say,

The Gospel is clear. Wherever we may mail our checks for missionary support, a Free Methodist evangelist in Brazil, an Assembly of God pastor in the Philippines, an Bible-believing Lutheran pastor in Ethiopia or a conservative Dutch Reformed Christian in South Africa, an evangelical Church of Scotland grandmother, a conservative Anglican in London, and a Southern Baptist deacon in Dallas, when they sit down next to someone on the bus or the plane, and share the Gospel with them, will all share the same Gospel--the good news about the Holy God who sent his Son to die and be raised for the justification of sinners. And that we experience God's forgiveness and new life through faith alone in Christ alone.
This is what the ministry of the Church is all about, perhaps if you are worried about what your peers are going to think and if it will effect your standing amongst them, then perhaps you are not truly called to preach the Gospel.

1 comment:

byron smith said...

Thanks for the links and the other interesting quotes. I particularly enjoyed the Tim Keller comments.