Thinking Out Loud

August 8, 2013

Ministry Motivation: A Confession

Filed under: ministry — Tags: , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:20 am

Sometimes, if I am being really honest with myself, I have to concede that my interactions with seekers and skeptics are often about getting the presentation right more than they are about the individual. Yes, I listen; but I only listen for so long, and then launch into presentation (a), (b), or (c) trying to better streamline it each time for greater impact. The problem is, then it becomes all about me instead of being about them.

Other times, if I am being even more honest with myself, I realize that the various opportunities I get to share the basics of Christian faith and/or my own personal journey are about registering these exchanges as a way of charting my own ministry legitimacy. I don’t keep statistics or publish prayer letters with names of contacts, but I do want to think that my efforts partner hand-in-hand with the clergy class. Again, the problem is, it can become all about me instead of about the lost people who I am interacting with.

At other times, if I am really willing to dig deep, I recognize my own sinfulness and my propensity to sin, particularly in the area of my thought life; so ministry opportunities keep me focused on higher things and serve as a block or barrier to allowing my mind to go down some lesser roads. These parts of a typical day provide a natural environment in which to pursue purity of thought. But again, the problem is, I’ve turned it all around to being all about my spiritual state instead of the eternal state of the person who hasn’t yet crossed the line of faith.

The Apostle Paul said:

Phil. 1:18 (excerpt)(NIV)…But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice…

But in so saying, his focus is on the lost people who matter to God. But on the other side of the conversation, my efforts need to be a whole lot less about me.

April 15, 2012

Brandon Cox: Five Cautions

Brandon Cox is a Pastor, planting Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas. He also manages Pastors.com and Rick Warren’s Pastor’s Toolbox newsletter. Grace Hills Church is only eleven weeks old but Brandon has some cautions he wants to share.

If you read what follows, you’re joining the article in the middle, so I suggest you read this at Brandon’s blog, where it appeared under the title, Why Grace Hills Church is in Jeopardy.

If we fail to intentionally be the church, we will unintentionally just do church. And that’s true, no matter how much we say we’re going to “be the church.” Doing the Sunday gathering thing is what we’re good at, and even though we spend a lot of time and money on it, it’s still easier than scattering to be the church in our community.

If we fail to intentionally make disciples, we will unintentionally just make fans. I believe in making Jesus famous and bringing people into the enjoyment of His glory, but our mission is more than increasing the popularity of the church. The mission is to help people become reproducing, sold out Jesus-followers.

If we fail to intentionally be authentic, we will unintentionally just perform. I’ve performed before. In fact, I’m a recovering performer and have struggled with an addiction to the approval of others, so admitting my weaknesses is tough, but essential. I no longer trust my autopilot to lead me into genuine authenticity. Being real takes effort, and if we aren’t real, nobody heals.

If we fail to intentionally embrace all people, we will unintentionally play favorites. And the apostle James warned us about the danger of insulting the cross by picking and choosing those with whom we want to do ministry. Rather than hanging out with only the “churchy” people, of our color, of our political persuasion, of our cultural background etc., the gospel itself demands that we purposely break free and seek out new friendships for the gospel’s sake.

If we fail to intentionally be generous, we will unintentionally consume everything. By default, we spend it all, and we tend to spend pretty much all of our resources on ourselves. Churches tend to fall into the trap of sustaining their institutional machinery, maintaining their buildings and budgets, and begging for more volunteers and bigger offerings to keep the snowball rolling. Generosity requires purposeful sacrifice (if we can even use that word in light of the cross).

~Brandon Cox

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