Recently I have been posting entries that show a leaning toward or concern for the styles of ministry that have very poor results or fruit. It may even be read as I am being over critical of ministry or the church in general.
For those of you who know me personally you know that I am not much of a stone thrower but I never shy away from asking questions that I believe need to be brought up. We may need to just STOP and THINK!
The task before us is enormous. We need to change the way we pass the faith to the next generation. Believing in the sufficiency of Scripture, we must turn to the Bible to teach us how to do ministry (rather than just what to teach). We need gospel-centered ministries grounded in the Word of God- David Wright.
This is a problem across the ministry landscape. It’s not because we have misunderstood the church’s teaching of historical-confessional, gospel-infused Christianity. It’s a problem in ministry wherever the American church has not preached Christ crucified and has catered to a pragmatic, entertainment-driven, and numbers-oriented model of church growth.
Counter to the Gospel
Think about those three words, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. They run counter to the gospel of Jesus Christ in every way. We are not saved by earning our way up the good-works ladder, nor is God the divine genie dispensing wishes at command. He’s not a distant “clock-maker,” sitting back to watch it all play out, but the personal Immanuel who became man to seek and save his bride. The gospel says that Jesus has accomplished for you—through his life, death, and resurrection—everything that God has required of you; thereby, securing eternal life for all God’s people, and received by faith alone.
This is where the importance of method comes to the forefront, which (unfortunately) is often disassociated with theology. While our theology of the gospel should inform our method, the American church—to a large extent—has practiced just the reverse. The question on many leaders’ minds is, “How do we get bored people into the church?” The question should be, “How are we to faithfully plant and water the gospel of Jesus Christ for his glory and our joy in him?”
Many ministries have engaged in direct competition with the world to woo and attract people by all sorts of gimmicks and giveaways. In fact, a large church in the Atlanta area recently gave away iPods to the first 100 youth at a lock-in! But is that the method God has given us to draw young people into a deeper, richer, more meaningful relationship with Christ?
There Is Hope
There is hope, however, because Jesus will build his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. There is hope because God is in the business of saving and sanctifying us through the ministry of Word, prayer, and sacrament. God has given us means of grace—not just to reap the benefits of their content and application—but as the way in which we plant and water the gospel, looking to God to provide the growth. These means of grace should inform how young men and women are drawn into the church—youth who are disillusioned by the gimmicks and fog of an entertainment-driven world of empty pleasure.
Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias has said, “The loneliest moment in life is when you have just experienced the ultimate, and it has let you down.” Like a political pendulum, the experienced “high” from self-centered experience and rampant consumerism fails to provide rest for the restless soul. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can call the prodigal out of the trough and satisfy his longing heart.-B Cosby
So what do you think? What method? Who? When? Where?……But the real question may be WHY?