Christian Ministry, Free Course, Lesson 005
Ministry in Contemporary Society
Ministry in the context of missionary activity exists for a reason. It does not exist for its own ends. Neither does it justify its own existence. Both missions and ministry arise out of the acts of God and serve his ends. Through the proclamation of the gospel, God’s will is made known. Through the compassionate touch of human ministry, God’s love is demonstrated to the world.
The divine quality that underlies missions is compassion. Out of compassion flows the passion that produces witnesses, who sometimes are called upon to lay down their lives for their cause. The task of the missionary is actually to fulfill God’s mission. God’s mission involves an extension of the ministry of Jesus. That is, the message of Jesus is to be preached to the entire world in perpetuity.
Theological foundations are those propositions which define one’s faith. They under gird both missions and ministry. This is why it is important for us to understand the Bible correctly. How we understand the task of missions and the function of ministry will define our goals for a particular activity. Fidelity to the task properly understood will render faithful ministry. That task is defined by the biblical text. Our own ministerial involvement grows out of that understanding.
No matter how well read or skilled we may be, unless we are equipped spiritually, out ministry will be flawed. The modern world presents strong challenges to spiritual formation. On the one hand, the allurements of the world provide distractions and on the other hand, the call for righteousness makes the unrighteous uncomfortable. Satan will find out weak spots and exploits them so the desire to engage in missions must be accompanied by prayer, concentration, and perseverance. Wherever we choose to live, the constancy of temptation will require vigilance.
Mission strategies are a combination of divine and human plans. The gospel itself contains a framework for Christian work. The essential message of the gospel and the nature of the church broadly define ministry strategies. There may even be a sense in which the Scriptures provide a pattern for the church to perform its mission. However, within the divine limitations of Scripture exists the place for human schemes and plans.
The work of missions belong to God and people are his instruments and bear responsibility for mission activity. Good stewardship means that believers develop strategies and execute them and God chooses how to bless those efforts. More often than not, mission strategy is culturally and historically conditioned. We need to review those strategies in light of the gospel and in view of desired objectives.
Human plans and strategies must remain true to guiding principles. Any mission strategy should include: a plan for identifying people for evangelization, a plan for presenting the gospel to these people, a plan for baptizing them, a plan for bringing them into community with other believers, a plan for maturing them spiritually, a plan for helping them develop as a church that is a believing, proclaiming, worshiping, holy, encouraging, and compassionate community. We need to think biblically and think strategically.
As a part of strategy the missionary must make an initial commitment, get general training, go through a process of field selection, receive focused training, make initial adjustments, and put in long-term missionary service. The omission of one or more of these steps can hinder the mission and inflict unnecessary financial costs. Yet, even with the best training and intentions, health problems, politics, change in the support base, and other unexpected developments can still disrupt the mission effort.