Prophet, Priest, Sage and King
Course: Theology of Ministry
Lecture: Prophet, Priest, Sage and King
When you teach a course for the first time, you’re doing a lot of formative thinking as you’re going along. In this course I’m doing that and I was thinking about this, this whole missional subject now today that, that really is an important philosophical question for you when you are going to go out there and do ministry, that… what’s going to drive you in terms of your philosophy of mission? Hopefully that’s based on a firm Scriptural foundation, a good theological foundation.
I think in this area in particular, it’s going to be good that you do some really good, fresh thinking. Just as we read from Buce [phonetics] this a moment ago, this pendulum tends to swing between evangelism over here, edification over here, one generation tends to eclipse the one. What I want to do is just to go over some basic theology. Some of it is probably things you already know and understand but it’s just good to underscore this and then let’s talk about it a little bit.
When I think of missional, I think of okay, what’s your theology here in terms of mission? I can’t get pass the word itself. Missional implies that first of all, whatever we do in ministry out there is intentional as opposed to something that is static to say that missional is to imply something, right? Implies movement. In fact missional is I think a fairly popular term right now out there. We’re a missional church versus what? Institutional church which when you hear that on the surface, it implies we’re doing something you’re not. We’re a movement and you’re something else. It underscores that at the heart of ministry is something about purpose, intention. It is saying that we’re to be deliberate. The fact that we are called to mission, as ministers we’ve been given a mission implies this that we are not here to mark time but to be deliberate in everything that we do. It goes back to the fact that we have been called, we have been given a co-mission.
A theologian that used to teach up at Region [phonetics], he died some years ago, Cloud Spockneil [phonetics] has got this little book. He wrote just a couple of little small books. They’re just little weighty gems that I keep in my library and I go back to them from time to time. Here’s a wonderful chapter in one of them and I can’t remember the title. It’s got “Gospel” in the title. It’s a whole chapter devoted to commission, the gift of commission and I liked reading that chapter every now and again cause I liked to remind my people often that I preached to that we all in Christ have been given the gift of salvation but we also, in that act, been given the gift of commission. Gift of commission means that we’ve all been called to a purpose; we’ve all been given in one sense a calling. We have a first calling when we come to Christ and a second calling when Christ calls us to do something with our lives.
So as I was preaching this weekend for example, Nehemiah. It is clear that here is the governmental figure who’s a… who’s out there you know, in secular work. He's not a part of the clergy but he receives a commission of sorts from God and it starts very subtle like it does in all of us here but it builds, it bruise, it forms inside and then it takes shape. It starts with discontent that moves to more and more certainty that God is calling them to something big, something important. It’s that whole thing of mission.
So first of all, when we talk about the mission of ministry, we are reminded that ministry by its very nature is moving. It is not static. I just know that I am not prolonging it but it’s because I want it to etch inside of you because if you’re going into the ministry, it means you’re part of a movement and I’m saying that because a lot of ministries are not movement. They are static; they’re just drifting; they’re just lying there.
In your philosophy of ministry, the first thing you want to say is, “I am part of a movement. I have been called to a mission” and God spells out what that mission is. So therefore it doesn't mean, I just hang around and drift around. Yeah?
Male speaker 2: You said that there are two callings. Do you see that there being overlapping those or you’re saying that they’re distinct?
They’re distinct in the sense that God called me to Himself when I was 16 and whether I realized it or not, I was also called to be a minister in the broad sense. At that time, I was thinking largely about myself and didn't think about that but I began to get that more and more. If there’s a third calling so to speak where we talked a lot, a little bit in courses that maybe that calling actually gave my whole self and my whole life to ministry, one can only think of it as different callings; each distinct in a way. They don't necessarily all happen and converge at once. It might be testimonies to that effect, not my testimony and I suspect it’s not most of ours.
Male Speaker 2: Do you think it would be healthier if we had less gap between calling one and calling two?
You’re right. The church would be a lot healthier if people would see that being called to one is to be called to the other. I just found in my ministry, it’s something that you had to keep reminding people of. They don't get it all at once and they often forget it. And sometimes, they don't get it because they think well, God can’t use me. Instead of realizing No, actually God need you and because he intends to use you. And I didn't mind sometimes being rather blunt with the people I minister to and sometimes I just come out almost like that. Don’t tell me you don't have a call and don’t tell me that you don't have a ministry because if God called you to Himself, He didn't call you just to drift and mark time till you get into heaven.
In fact if you don't have a calling on your life, then I assume it’s because God maybe is taking you home. If you’re still here, you got a calling. I like to tell that to our 8.30 crowd who are 70 cause a lot of them, I just see it in their faces. I see in their faces of older people that go, “Well, that’s nice, honey but I’m retired now. I, I, you know” No. You’re called and if you do not know what that is, you better figure it out really fast cause you may not have much time.
And on the other side, to a younger crowd, I think sometimes they just think, “Well, I don't know if God will use me. If God can use me.” That’s why Botne [phonetics] calls it the gift of commission. It is a gift and it’s a great gift. It’s a wonderful gift. That’s what gives life purpose, meaning, right? It’s when people grab hold of that suddenly then a lot of things make sense. Now they began to discover why they were made, what they were made for. Why God put these particular passions in their lives? And there’s nothing that thrills me more than to help people get there and that’s our ministers task. That’s part of what God’s called you to do which means first of all, you got to figure that out for yourself or you’re just going to be the blind leading the blind. But it all goes back to this word “mission” implies movement; implies intention.
What’s that intention’s all about? Well, you see it’s clear in Scriptures that we’ve been given a mission also of perpetuation. We’re to be intentional about continuing what has already begun. And I’ve said that but I’m saying in a little bit different language but I want to make sure you keep getting this that it is not for us to figure out what the mission is. The mission’s been declared. Our main responsibility is to perpetuate it. We are not called to create a mission or to discover a new mission. We’re clear to get in step with the new mission that’s already there. We are called to continue it. The key verse here is John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you.” That’s the definitive word in this course. John 20:21 “As the Father has sent me, so I’m sending you.”
So Jesus comes, sent as One who comes to be Incarnational. The mission of Jesus is to flash out God. So John Chapter 1, “The Word became flesh”; Philippians 2 “Jesus emptied Himself, taking on the form of a servant” If ministry is perpetuation, then part of our mission is to what? Be incarnational. Be in a certain sense God in the flesh, not making us equal of course, with Jesus but we in a sense, as ministers, are called to flash out Jesus and that also will involve a certain emptying of ourselves. Philippians chapter 2. So we see this and we see Jesus… and again we realized that it’s not just we’re called to do what He’s commanded us to do. Ministry isn’t just about obedience and it’s not about imitation. It’s about something even more. It’s about union. Thank you, yeah, great.
It’s about union we have with Him. In this union then we are perpetuating what Jesus came in the world to do. So Jesus comes and he didn’t stay in the safe community of Heaven but He comes and He comes into a world vulnerable to its temptations and pain. Which therefore say that the key part of my mission as a minister is to be willing to enter into what God puts me in and to lay… leave sometime the safe confines of my heaven wherever that might be, and enter into people’s worlds’. Enter into their thoughts and their work, and their alienation and their pain. I mean, incarnational ministry which is the nature of our mission is big and small things all the time. Somebody who’s there and there’s part of you that goes, “I just don't want to go there cause I know they are just going to suck me into what they are dealing with.” But you realized, no, the nature of ministry in incarnational. I need to enter in to that world. As John Starts [phonetics] puts it “Entering into the doubts of the doubting. The questions of the questioners. The loneliest of those who’ve lost their way.” With a certain amount of wisdom. You can go too far in what I’m talking about and never get out.
I had this woman who called me Friday and I just knew that it’s one of those calls. It went something like this, “Hello, this is… I’m looking for John Collenberg [phonetics]”. “No, I’m, I’m, I’m not that.” “Well, okay, you’ll work.”
“So, I’m just wondering what your view of women is in ministry.” And I’m right in the thick of my sermon, right? And so I said a couple of things and “Well, but, okay but what about” And all of a sudden I realized you know, that’s the kind of incarnation I don't want to get into. I just don't want to enter into those needs at that moment which really was just a need for argument. So sometimes, you realized what are the things that… in this incarnation mission, I’m willing to empty myself, I’m willing to enter into someone's world and you have to navigate, there’s sometimes you would just sense God saying, “Enter into this world.” And sometimes, you realized no, that’s not a world I want to enter into.
Perpetuation includes perpetuating this incarnational ministry that Jesus began and we continue, so now we are in a sense representatives of Him in this world we go into as ministers. And it includes this mission of… also secondly advance God’s Kingdom. We continue this advancing of God’s Kingdom ministry. Jesus comes to bring the Kingdom and the disciple say, “Teach us how to pray” and Jesus says, “Pray this way. Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come” but it’s already here. What was He saying in that prayer? “Thy Kingdom come”. Do we pray everyday, Lord please bring it? If Jesus came and brought the Kingdom, what is it we’re praying for? What are we asking God to do?
Male Speaker 3: Pray in heaven who seems to be here but it’s not yet here…
Yeah, there is a sense of the end and yet the not yet. We are somehow in this perilous middle and I think that is true in the Kingdom. In a sense, this is how, I pray that prayer “Lord, may Your Kingdom advance“. It’s the seed under the ground taking form, germinating, starting small as you said but let it take shape. Let me in my life advance Your Kingdom. Use me to do that in whatever form, whatever small step, whatever big step You want to take. That’s the prayer of a good minister, isn’t it?
And that’s what our mission is. We come to incarnate God; we come to expand His Kingdom. This is all under perpetuating what’s already begun. And we tried to be careful not to get off track as Jesus had to take His disciples, when they almost got off tracked back to Mark chapter 1. You remember? The healing ministry? Everybody was looking for Jesus. Remember that story we talked about it? They come out looking for Jesus and said, “Everybody is waiting”. What did Jesus say? Let’s what?
Male Speaker 4: Go somewhere else.
Go somewhere else for I’ve come for this purpose to heal. Me and Benny Hinn, right there. Doing this together and laying the groundwork. Is that what He said? Come, let’s go to other villages so we can preach what? The Kingdom of God. So this is our task as well. We come to preach the Kingdom, we come to invite people into His Kingdom, we come to lay out what His Kingdom looks like, and Jesus did that. He said here’s what My Kingdom looks like. So he bought everybody up in the Sermon on the Mount. Here's what it looks like. This is a picture of the Kingdom. It’s not just the picture of the future. It’s a picture of also what I want you to aim for in the present.
So this is our ministry, our mission. Our mission largely centered around the Kingdom and so Mark 1:1 says not to get off center but to preach it. We’re to be the presence of the Kingdom. We are if we are pasturing the churches. I take it in one sense, we’re challenging our people to more and more look like the Kingdom of God; to be a foretaste of what’s to come and we pray for the Kingdom to advance and we teach people to pray that same way. Like I liked how Stan Granson [phonetics] says in his book on prayer says here’s what we should pray. I stole his definition of prayer and I used it often in my life and when I preach: that prayer in its essence is laying hold of God’s ableness and God’s willingness to advance His Kingdom. Essence of prayer is laying hold on God’s ableness because He’s able and God’s willingness because He’s willing to advance His Kingdom or he puts it in another way, to bring something of God’s future kingdom into the present. To bring something of God’s future Kingdom into the present.
Sometimes we ‘re praying for healing. In a sense that’s what we’re doing. “Lord, something of the future when we’ll all be healed. Would you bring that into the present.” When we’re praying for insight to understand God’s Word, when one day in heaven we will understand all things is to sometimes say, “Lord, bring something of that into the present today.” You pray like that? That’s a great way to pray, isn’t it? “Lord, one day the Body of Christ will all be there in heaven and all of our glory is the Bride. Would you bring something of that into the present in my church.” Now there’s a prayer that certainly sounds a whole lot better than “Jesus just be with us today, amen.”
That’s what ministry is about. It's about, about advancing the Kingdom, teaching the people to pray that way, encouraging the community mirror God’s Kingdom and I think, maybe I’ll say one other thing about perpetuation. Perpetuation is also about continuing this apostolic sense of ministry. The centeredness [phonetics] we had Jesus who was sent and He says, “Now you go, I’m sending you. My Father has sent Me, I’m sending you.” And He stamped on us: Apostolic. That is our nature.
So what is our mission? Our mission first of all, needs to understand that we are sent ministers. It’s not my idea. I didn't choose this. I’ve been sent. So, what have been sent to do? Here’s the second or the third thing on your notes here. We have this mission of redemption. This is what we’ve been sent to do which goes all the back to Genesis 3:15 with the advent of sin. It set in motion a work of rescue, salvation. So Abraham, Moses, the prophets all are called in their own ways to be agents of reconciliation and you and I are called in the same way. So, Jesus comes to see the lost, Luke 19:10. That was His fundamental mission statement. Remember what he said, “I have come for this purpose”. To seek and save lost people. You look in this text and let’s just look at Scripture for a moment here.
Look at Luke 19 and it comes… in what kind of context. What’s just happened? Where’s Jesus on his way to? He’s gone on His way to Jerusalem and He passes through a little city on the way. A little town. Goes through Jericho and there’s a man there in Jericho, not just any man but he’s kind of an oily, squirmy, little man that could easily dismissed or passed over and so Jesus goes and spends His time with him and when He spends time with him and it’s obvious that this man has been transformed. Verse 8, “Lord, half of my possessions, I’ll give to the poor.” Zaccheus in that sense, is more godly than the people who have been in church for 40 years. He just got saved. So there is a powerful change in his life and Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house because he, too is a son of Abraham for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” So this was why He came. This is His reason. This is His mission.
So Zaccheus is not a detour or delay. He's the reason and the Zaccheus in our lives are the reason. They are not detours or delays. God brings them in our lives and our mission is one of redemption. And so Jesus crossed all kinds of barriers to do this mission. Like Mark 5, the demoniac. That was crossing some more barriers. He went to the Gentile side. He went to the bad side of town so to speak. Luke 15 and the classic illustration is John 4. Woman at the well. He goes to… out of the way places because this is His mission and He gives us therefore His ministry: Ministry of Redemption. And we’re called to participate in the same way redemptive work.
So Acts 1:8 we’re well familiar with. We’re called to be His witnesses. Mark Terier [phonetics] which implies in the term “Someone who takes the stand. Someone willing to put his life on the line.” It’s not a cheap term at all with the emphasis on ‘being’. He didn't say “I call you to do witnessing.” He said, I called you to what? Be My witnesses. It’s about being. Mission is largely about being and preaching the gospel is a lot of time about being. You all have heard that famous statement. It’s been attributed to different people, the last at least, the last I’ve heard is Francis of Assisi “Preach the gospel at all times if necessary use words.” In a sense, this is what Jesus is saying in Acts 1:8.
Some other passages… again to underscore this mission, Second Corinthians 5:18, we’ve been given this ministry of reconciliation. First Peter 2:9, He’s called us, made us a holy people that we might proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us. Paul to Timothy, second Timothy 4:5, Do the work of what? Of an evangelist. It’s interesting in the same statement, caring social level as he is at the eternal level as we need to be. So passages that also we should underscore here are Luke 16:19-31. Lazarus and the story that again reminds us that our ministries are also about the hurdling [phonetics] and caring for them. Isaiah 58:10 where God has to deal with Israel for going through all the religious motions but they don't care about injustice. James 1:27. Go to a lot of passages. They all fall under this mission of redemption. So what it’ll require? It will required that we are willing to get outside of our walls. Acts 1:8 is forcing us out of our walls. It makes it clear that our mission is not about privatization. It’s not about entrenchment. Be sure to write these down. Ministry is not about privatization, not about entrenchment, not about getting safely into our boats. It’s not about creating a Christian subculture; it’s not about creating monuments; it’s about creating a movement and all of the metaphors underscore this when Jesus calls us to be salt, light, images of dispersal.
So we have this work of… this mission of redemption which largely is subversive and communal. It is being in but not of the world. Scott, you had something there?
Scott: Yeah in that same passage where Jesus said salt and light, you use it as a metaphor with what you are talking about. How does that metaphor fit into the mission of the church?
Yeah. That's a good question. You know, maybe it’s a balancer. That there’s to be a subtle side but maybe if I can use the term of attractional side, we got to be subversive and subtle. Eugene Peterson makes the point that the tools of subversive is words and prayer. Those are subversive tools, they are not immediately seen but they are there. They work powerful. People don't realize we’re praying for them maybe but we’re praying and they don't know why they are getting miserable, you know. That’s subversive tools.
But on the other side, there should be something about our lives, our ministries that maybe get the world’s attention. That people look at the light on a hill amidst the darkness and say there is hope somewhere. So that we are not so hidden that people go like “Jeez, I never knew”. We can be found. I haven't thought about it until you’ve asked the question but I wonder if its sort of a both end that Jesus is balancing and maybe we’ll bring it up at the end of the discussion. There is an interesting statement in that, you take a guy like Frost who in his book “Shaping of things to come," really takes the institutional church to task for being largely attractional.
And sometimes again, in this whole pendulum thing, you can throw the baby out with the bath water when there actually can be a place for attractional. There’s sometimes is a place for the church to be there for people to know you’re there and they can find you and they can find God. But then they also has to be this incarnational which is the more subversive, subtle. It’s both end, not ‘either or’. And I fear what we tend to do today is to make it ‘either or’. ‘Either or’ to the point where we’re almost dismissing the place, the function of the role of the local church.
Let’s shift then to then the other mission, the other side of this and that’s the mission of edification. So we build the theology of mission that underscores that as the Father has sent Jesus, He sent us. As Jesus came to seek and save the lost, He’s given us the same mission to seek and save lost people. It’s also clear in our theology of mission that God has given us the mandate to build up one another, to build up the church, to disciple. So Jesus again is our modal. We always start with Jesus. What do we see in Jesus is mission. He came to seek and save lost people. He also came to go deep and build and pour Himself into His disciples.
So it’s not one or the other but its’ both end and He exhorts His disciples to what at the end? To go and go and make disciples. Matthew 28 and if we need anymore convincing, then that’s why God gave us Paul because you see… huge part of Paul’s mission was to bring people to maturity. So we turn again to a great passage like Colossians 1:28 where Paul says, And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom that we may present every man, what? Complete in Christ. This is the goal. So Paul takes his ministry of feeding, caring, equipping to that end and you see this again in different passages to the Thessalonikians. He said his goal was to complete what was lacking in their faith. First Thessalonians 3:10. So Paul’s ministry to them is to complete what’s lacking where there are gaps. This is my mission. This is your mission with people you minister to, is to figure out those gaps and help bring them to completion.
To the Romans, Paul exhorted them to live out the implications of Romans 1 through 11. So he spends Romans 12 through 15 saying now, this is how you live it. He understood, this is his mission. He’s writing these letters. He wants the church to be mature and he’s telling us as ministers that this is also our mission. To the Ephesians, perhaps one of the most best letters of all in this regard where he invested several years of intense discipleship with the school there, he writes these great words in Ephesians chapter 4 that God has given gifted people. He's given leaders reflecting an apostolic card and a prophetic voice and an evangelistic sprit and a nurturing ministry of teaching, to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry. God brings all of those voices in for the purpose of equipping saints. Ephesians 4:12. So he’s telling us that fundamental mission of us who do ministry in people’s lives. We’re doing this work of Katartizō. You always have to have one Greek word in each lecture so you get your money’s worth. So what is Katartizō about? God has given gifted people you, me, He has called us to this task of equipping saints. Equipping Katartizō which is a word that goes back to mending nets, setting broken bones. This is how the Greek word was used in the secular world of its day and in a sense, he gives a beautiful picture of you and me.
Our mission in ministry is to see people come to Christ and then to begin to do work of Katartizō, putting them back together and that involves giving attention to their lives; It involves envisioning. This is a big part of it, isn’t it? It involves at times envisioning what the Spirit has designed this person to become. You do that sometimes? You see someone that you just have a burden for? You look into their lives and you go, man I can see what you can be for God. They can’t see it yet but God gives you a sense of that and therein God begin to just put a burden in your life to just pour into this person. That’s all part of this Katartizō, helping people discover who they are, what their gifts are. He gives gifted people for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service which I take it means, helping them come to grips with the measure of Grace that God has given him. That’s how he describes it in other passages.
We all have a measure of grace. It's another way of saying that God’s grace takes different shape in everybody. We all have something of grace, this measure of grace in our lives and it takes distinct unique form. I have my shape, you have your shape and the ministers mission is to come along and try to help give shape to that shape. So we all had different gifts according to the grace given us. That’s how the Word puts it, right?
We all have different gifts according to the grace given us because maybe you already know this. The very nature of Kharesmata goes back to the fundamental root of Kharesmata which is what? Khares which is the word for grace. The very essence of spiritual gift is the measure of grace. I like to think of it this way. Our task as ministers is to help people come to grips with that measure of grace in their lives because that measure of grace, that giftedness that Kharesmata simply an instrument for the Khares.
So, that when you share your Kharesmata with someone, let’s say whether it be mercy, helps whatever it is, that is when grace, then Khares flows through you. That measure of grace was not given to any of us to be bottled up and held within. It’s to be released through the Kharesmata. What do ministers do? They come along and help people figure that out cause most people don't know what that is and then they encourage them to release it. So that what you have one day in a prefect world, which we don't live in but nonetheless, every now and then, we like to put something like this before our people and say you know what? Here’s what I love to see one day. I love to see church that looks like this, we’re all walkin’ here we are and what’s happening is that God’s Grace is flowing everywhere and His Grace is flowing through your… your gift. So that I, let’s say, if I’m a teacher or whatever and maybe I’m speaking over here, I’m no different than anybody else in this task. We all come together. God pours His Grace out though me, through my Kharesmata. If this is to work, I need grace too. We all need grace, don’t we? We’re all desperate for grace. How many people on a given weekend, let’s say in church sits there with this measure of grace in them and it never gets released. And therefore it’s no wonder many churches are graceless communities. Ever think sometimes why is the church so graceless? I wonder if a lot of that is because we got a lot of people sitting on their grace? Whose fault is that? To a certain extent, it’s ours. Its ministers. Ephesians 4, He gave gifted people to equip the saints to do the work of ministry.
What does it mean to equip? It doesn't mean we’re giving them something, you know like a car that is fully equipped. We tend to use that word think that oh, it’s got all that add up luxurious equipment they put in there. Well, we don't put anything in people. To equip mean we mend, we help get them back together and a big part of back together is they discover why God made them. They discovered that second calling, that commission if you will. And once they grab hold of that, I have been made for a purpose. I do see this gift that is in me and they come and they release that grace through them and it becomes a kind of, dialogical experience. What happens to them then? Do they stay flat? No, then they blossom and they grow.
And that’s why Paul says here, He says “For the equipping of the saints, for the work of service to the what? Building up of the Body which happens when Grace is dispensed until we’re come into the unity of the faith and into the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man. This is our mission. It is a mission of bringing people ultimately to Christ likeness. To the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. That’s the endpoint, verse 13. If you want to know your mission, your missional endpoint is to bring people to that place. Mark that down because you read guys like George Barnett today that say what’s wrong with the church, I can’t measure transformation. People don't change, they stay the same.
Well, what’s behind that? People are not changing, they are not transforming and so they are not moving to the stature of the fullness of Christ and it might go all the way back to this because gifted people are not equipping them to do the work of ministry which leads to moving to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ so it’s being destinational in this passage Ephesians 4: 11 through 13. He’s being destination. He's got an endpoint in mind because he’s missional.
For us, creating a theology of mission is ultimately about a destination. This is where we’re going. There's a book coming out. I just got a kind of pre-copy of it by a guy name Thompson that’s writing… the title is “Pastoral ministry according to Paul”. So what’s he’s done is that he’s studied all the letters and he’s tried to assess Paul’s ministry. He's trying to figure out a theology of ministry. What is Paul’s theology of ministry? This is what he says. This is Paul's’ definition. Ministry is participation, sound familiar? Ministry is participation in God’s work, worth writing down here. Ministry is participation in God’s work transforming the community of faith until it is blameless at the coming of Christ. “Ministry is participation in God’s work of transforming the community of faith until it is blameless at the coming of Christ.”
So when does our work end? Maybe today, maybe 40 years. In our theology of mission, what is our mission? Our mission is what we say. First of all, it is what? It is to be intentional. Secondly, ministry by its very nature mission. The mission is on of perpetuation in the broad sense. Thirdly, our ministry is about redemption. With fundamental to our mission is we are reaching lost people. It’s not just something we preach. We got to really fundamentally believe that, feel that inside. Have a list of people we daily pray for that need Jesus and I hope that you all have people like that and that you have a part of your life marked out where you enter into that world, hopefully on a regular basis with on say [phonetics] people and you enter that world with this purpose, intention to reach them for the gospel.
If we don't have that going in our life, no one’s going to listen to us preach that and we won't preach it with much power. So redemption and then edification and what’s edification? It’s not just about giving people lots of information. It’s about saying, Look, I’m not interested if you could memorize all the books of the bible, what I want to know is are you becoming more and more like Jesus? Because Paul says in Ephesians 4:13 this is the destination that we’re all aiming for. So where are we at today?
It’s purpose to talk about this two-fold mission. Sometimes one eclipses the other. Where are we at today? Nice balance? We will evaluate ministry right now and the mission. Where do we see it?
Male Speaker 4: When you’re talking about the goal of the full measure of Christ, I think we have set our bar a little bit lower than the disciple is until we reach that level mark…
There’s a tendency I think at times I’ve seen this over the years in ministry for us to kind of move over here and then we move back over here. I remember when I was in a seminary, kind of a big statement was something like this, “You know the church gathers to scatter”. In other words, the purpose of the church, the mission, if you will in ministry is to pour yourself, preach the Word, teach the Word. People go out and from the church and scatter and reach… touch lives. But what we’ve discovered is that a lot of churches ended up being just kind of holding tanks where people got edificated out. If that makes any sense because we so wrap people around the church that they no longer had relationships beyond church so that missional part got sort of missed.
We could be in a sort of pendulum that’s gone back a little bit more over here of saying you know, the important thing is to be incarnational, to get out of the institutional church to get out there in the community, touch lives, reach people for Jesus and we could take that almost so far that we no longer see the role or the place or the church over here. The main thing is that we’re reaching people over for Jesus and we may end up in that missional approach with a lot of thin layered people who may not survive out there very well in the real world when they try to define and defend their world view or live in a mature way because they are not grounded.
It’s easy for the pendulum to go both ways. What I’m suggesting here is that what we have to do is that we have to be careful to stay somewhere in the middle of all of that, yeah.
Heather: In the book of Acts you see really a perfect modal of the church, of living a certain lifestyle amidst of the culture. We all know that you need to be a sort of institution to form and if we could balance it…
Yeah, I think, Heather, that’s a good way to put it. I guess I would throw out to you that in all of this dialogue that’s going on today, my encouragement to you is to realize that there’s not only room but there has to be room at the table for both end. It’s not ‘either or’. Everything ultimately is institutional if you think about it. Even the most spontaneous and prophetic movement are institutional in a certain sense. Everything has to take some kind of form or you can’t even recognize it. Missional and institutional are not antithetical terms that they are not ‘either or’ as they are often used in language today.
I wouldn't want to be missional at the expense of being institutional. It’s the structure that is going to get us somewhere. At the same time I don't want to be institutional at the expense of missional. Some of you are going to graduate and you’re going to say, you know what, I, I don't wanna do this institutional church thing, I’m starting something new, I’m going to be part of an emergent thing and that’s good. There is nothing wrong with that. Some of you are going to feel perhaps a calling and God will say, “I want you to go to this institution.” Your mind will go kicking and screaming like I did.
My first church was an 80-year old institutional churches I’ve shared with you and there’s part of me that wouldn't wished that on anybody because there were so much of layers of institution that the mission had long been lost. It was sort of like that passage where in Acts 19 where they dragged Paul to the theatre in Ephesus and the town is in an uproar but then they didn't know why they are there.
One of my first sermons I preached that day to this church, my first church. It's amazing I lasted 10 years because somewhere early on, I got the boldness and I preached this passage out of Acts and I said, ‘And that sounds a lot like this place. You’re here but you don't know why you’re here.” But it was true. It was true. They had gotten so comfortable in their institution, they forgot their mission. And what I see to day is a lot of guys that are saying, “We’re missional. We’re not institutional.” Well, that is a ridiculous statement because if you’ve got some form at all, a time you meet; if you’re kind of the leader of this thing, you’re an institution whether you like it or not.
The key is how do you make the institutional work to your advantage. Now this is what I like to say to your advantage. I want to say, you know, guys, if you’re really smart, if you’re really, really smart, so It ell my elders sometime, if you’re really smart, we will use our institution to the advantage of highly missional. We got a building; we got structure; we got staff; we got all these things. I don't have to start from ground zero. Isn't that great? And it is but we also got these potential layers of form that can constrict us. It’s a matter of what’s going to be the drive: the institution or the mission? It’s sort of like Jesus you know, when He said “you can’t put new wine in old wineskins.” He wasn't saying so… therefore let’s get rid of old wineskins. Well, does that make any sense? You got to have something to put the wine into. The important thing is make sure that the wineskins are wet, are able to adapt to the fermenting Jesus who never stays the same. He’s always moving and so the key is in the institution you’re in is you just got to keep saying, we’ve got to change the wineskin so they are starting to get a little musty smell, they’re getting a little bit hard, starting to crack a little bit and you know what, Jesus can’t stay in this here. We’re not going to be able to accommodate Him.
That all goes back to your theology of mission. You get your mission right and you preach this mission constantly to yourself and to your people. Folks, we’re here to reach lost people; we’re here to reach incarnation; we’re here to advance the Kingdom of God; we’re here to grow people to become just like Jesus. If we could keep our eyes in a very kind of balanced way, neither one eclipsing the other, does that make sense? But both end paralleling, I think we’ll have ministry. I think we’ll have good ministry. If your philosophy drives you that way, I think you’re going to be on good ground. What a great way to stop.
Okay. See you next week.