Christian Ministry, Free Course, Lesson 001
Ministry in Contemporary Society
Missions is a modern term used to convey the idea of spreading Christianity but more specifically mission describes the effort to effect passage over the boundary between faith in Jesus Christ and its absence. Mission calls for a personal faith commitment, which grows out of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. It begins with God’s mission; what God wants accomplished. It embraces the different dimensions of church life; faith-building, proclamation, worship, compassion, encouragement, and holiness.
Individual ministries belonging to missions will be shaped through human relationships, personal gifts, need, and occasion. One who engages in ministry may be a servant, a teacher of Scripture, an equipper, and a delegator. The nature and function of the church define missions. In turn, the scope of missions shapes what tasks a missionary undertakes and how they will accomplish these tasks. Any adaptations of the gospel to modern society must be in keeping with the principles of the gospel and teachings of the New Testament.
From the time of the apostles, Christians have struggled with the relationship of the gospel to culture. The Old Testament is filled with examples of how the people of Israel adapted to the culture and were, in turn, taken over by the culture. They accepted the gods of their neighbors and thought like their neighbors. Through the prophets, God continually called them back to covenant loyalty. From time to time, God sent afflictions to induce them to consider the fruits of their faithlessness. Eventually, he executed judgment upon his covenant people by allowing Israel and Judah to fall into the hands of conquerors.
Perhaps church history and missions history should be reviewed in a similar light. We can surmise that God keeps calling his church to covenant loyalty. But the larger questions remain: At what points does the presentation of the gospel assail the culture? At what points does it accommodate itself to the culture? A related issue pertains to cooperation with other Christian communities. The gospel does not obligate us to full cooperation with all groups that call themselves Christian, especially where their theology is out of harmony with that of the Bible.