This time last year I was enjoying the Geneva Push In the Chute conference in Melbourne. I gathered with others from all over Australia, young and old, from a range of denominations, to encourage each other in the work of planting new churches. In some ways, I was the middle-aged pinup boy, heading to the Top End to begin all over. It was exhilarating to feel the energy, especially from those who were moving to new places to reach out with the message of Jesus. I had the privilege of teaching on why we need to keep planting new churches, how to build ministry teams, as well as sharing our specific dreams and plans for outreach in the Darwin area. (more…)
Ministry idolatry is becoming increasingly widespread, reaching epidemic proportions. It is showcased at network and denominational gatherings, where the focus and conversation is often not about Jesus, but about us and what we are accomplishing and achieving. Leaders discuss the latest poster children for ministry success and their methods so we can all emulate them, buy their books, and attend their “how we did it” seminars and conferences.
“Idolatry creep” sneaks up on you because you can easily and quickly justify it by saying that everything you do is for the Lord, believing your motives are pure. We recognize this in businessmen who work obscene hours while insisting they do it all to benefit the family, when in reality it’s all about them.
Leaders must guard against ministry becoming a mistress. A mistress is someone who takes the place that only your wife should occupy. Ministry must never take the place of Jesus himself in your heart and in your values. As 1 John 5:21 says, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” The New Living Translation says, “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” Our hearts are idol factories, and ministry, for many leaders, is the king of idols.
In this talk from a Matthias Media conference in 2009, Mark Dever talks about what it means to be a ‘shepherd’ of God’s people, and what a shepherd does. (more…)
I asked this question recently to a bunch of young ministry trainees at a ‘Trellis and Vine’ workshop, and I was delighted at their answer. (more…)
As I said in The Briefing #398, these are some of my reflections on what God has taught me about the ministries of women. Following on from the importance of women in ministry considering themselves to be Bible teachers and of cultivating joy in evangelism, in this article I want to talk about the central place of training, the necessity of teamwork, and the mixed emotions of sending. All of these elements are necessary not only for any woman in ministry to be committed to, but also for any man wanting to encourage women in ministry. (more…)
You know those times when you read a Bible passage so familiar that you barely see it any more? Then a word or phrase jumps out at you, your perspective shifts, and you see it clearly. It’s like those 3D puzzles where the picture suddenly comes into focus.
Our own experiences often affect how we read the Bible. Take Romans 16:7, for example:
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. (Rom 16:7)
There’s something in this verse that often catches the eye of the modern reader: a woman, Junia, is said to be “of note among the apostles.” This means that she was either a person of note to the apostles, or that she was herself “among the apostles.” Either way, the Bible seems to be saying that there was a woman who had a ministry role that was important in the early church. Surely then, as many argue, the example of Junia means that women today, too, can and should have significant ministry roles? At this point, our own experiences can play a big part, particularly our experiences of Christian ministry. (more…)
What follows are some of my personal reflections on the ministries of women, whether they’re staff members in a church or involved in everyday ministry with others. Some of what I have to say is more applicable for women employed as a member of a pastoral staff team, but most of it is also about normal Christian discipleship and ministry in any context. These thoughts are what I’ve come to see as important not only for women in ministry roles, but also for men who wish to support them in their ministry.
On my previous article about gospel speech, Craig made some comments and suggestions that I thought were so good they were worth a whole new post.
As a layman, what encourages me in evangelism, more than anything else, is hearing about other laymen doing it. For example, a while ago I heard a mate at church describe how he was planning to witness to the bloke in the next cubicle. That did more to encourage me than 10 sermons on evangelism would have done.
If you went to a new church and wanted to ensure that your leaders (elders, council, staff, etc.) are on the same page as you, what would you do? (more…)