Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

A Statement on Ministry…

The “official” graduation ceremony for my MDIV takes place this Saturday.  I’ve already walked (across our home church stage, to receive my diploma from my wife & children), but I figured this would be a good moment to pause.  Here are a few words I wrote many months ago, toward the end of my MDIV.  These are words I want to look back on and remind myself with, and so I “file them” publicly here – in case they may serve to encourage others.  These are not profoundly unthought of, will not shock the world, or inherently transform someone’s ministry.  But for me – they are important to remember:

PERSONAL MINISTRY STATEMENT
“My life in ministry aims to join the incarnational presence of Jesus by living out the good news of the gospel invitationally in every area of my life toward the New Creation of all things – both now and yet to come.”

Based on the coursework at Wesley Seminary, the reminders and wisdom gained, the time spent in scriptural study, and conversation with others – I can say some foundational things about ministry itself. I would use the word “pastoral” ministry, but this may imply that it is only true when serving as a professional “pastor”. Instead, I would simply use the term “Ministry” itself from the Christian perspective. This implies and includes those descriptions of a pastor but does not limit an understanding to someone who is paid to carry such a title professionally. Such ministry must always be incarnational, invitational, and eschatological.
INCARNATIONAL
In Jesus we see God becoming human to literally make this fleshly world the location of His presence in a way that had never occurred. This was not simply to give us a pattern to emulate, but by his resurrection and Holy Spirit becomes something we’re empowered to participate in. Any effort for ministry must be fed by first feasting at the table set for us by Jesus in prayer, Word, and worship. By receiving New Life in Christ, we are transformed into that New Creation that proclaims Jesus as fully Lord here and now. This means we are not simply incarnational to be among the people God loves, but we are missionally incarnational – infinitely compelled by the Love of God to proclaim, live out, and share the reality of God’s New Creation reality as is arriving “on earth as it is in Heaven.” Christian ministry here will be a response to all of this in the context of bringing healing restoration and redemption to relationships between humanity, God, and creation itself.
INVITATIONAL
In Jesus we see God extending such an invitation not only during a worshipful moment in the temple but as he walked along the road. We see Jesus extending the invitation to not only hear the objective truth, but to live in the new reality of all things transformed by Christ – set free from both sin, and the death it brings about. Christian ministry contains all of the amazing “Means of Grace” talked about by John Wesley, along with the “Method-ism” he espoused but is so much more than these things. It happens as Deuteronomy 6 proclaims, “When you sit at home, and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up.” Because of Jesus Christ, there is no person, no group, no location, no family, and no brokenness that is beyond the invitation of God to experience freedom and redemption in His Love. Christian ministry here is empowered by the Holy Spirit to extend that invitation in life and word.
ESCHATOLOGICAL
In Jesus, we see a life and ministry that joins the flow of God from something toward all things being made new. Even as important things happen, especially in the context of individuals and communities, it is always within the larger context of the Kingdom coming fully that these things are located. The word here is generally used for “last/final things”, but in this case, we really view the coming “completion of all things” as a New beginning that is forever located fully within the reign and rule of Christ. Christian ministry here recognizes with both hope and humility that everything we do, say, and any bit of our “being” is to be discovered and understood within those purposes and activities of God toward what will be. That is not to say our eyes are completely turned toward the “final days”, or even to a contemporary understanding, as we believe God has been speaking and revealing His final purposes actively as His Love has been transforming all things since creation itself.
CONCLUSION
There are libraries filled with books about how these things find themselves happening and “fleshed out” in the midst of individuals, families, and communities shaped by the loving presence of Jesus Christ. It involves worship services, small groups, proclamation, Bible studies, accountability, prayer, fasting, baptism, teaching, and more. Depending on the particular situation, season, and lives involved, it may take different shapes. But at the core, Christian ministry is always about joining the work and life of the Triune God who has invited us to do so in ways that transform us for the sake of all creation. We do this in fear and trembling, with excitement and joy, and mostly with a whole lot of grace – offered first on our behalf, so that we might begin to respond as He calls.

img_8738

Advertisements

need for confession and repentence…

Today’s an important day.  “Midterm Elections” are happening all over the US.  Here in our state, I’ve done the research.  A while back, I downloaded my county ballot, and began sifting through all of our choices.  Most cases that have two opponents seem to be “Choose the Candidate Who Makes You Gag Less Than the Other”.  It’s a very narrow margin of gag reflex, for the most part.  People who’ve been in power for many years, or people who have ridiculous amounts of money to spend.  Not that money or power equals corruption, but in our cultural context it certainly doesn’t help gain my support.  After all, the man I call Lord and Savior, as he was heading into his final “push”, seemed to be letting go of as much power/resources as possible.cost20141

So I think it’s important for us to collectively confess, we are a part of this brokenness.  That as much as we love our country, and value the freedoms that others gave their lives for us to enjoy, we have not created something inherently “Holy” out of it.  We never could.  Claiming Jesus in national documents, and even attempts to legislate morality will never make us a Christ-centered nation.

This was not even the “big” election, yet rough estimates show that over $4 BILLION was spent on campaigning this year.  Only slightly over the amount spent in 2010, we see that this is not unusual.  In 2012, the same amount was spent, PLUS another almost $3 Billion in presidential campaigning.  That means every four years, we see about $7 Billion being spent on parties fighting & arguing over who gets the votes.  To what end?  A few more years of having slightly more influence before having to spend billions of dollars once again to either stay, or get, in power.

What could be done with this much money in other areas of need?  CNN says $4 Billion alone could pay for 12,000 students to be educated from K-12th grades, with millions leftover for a graduation party.  Obviously there are a lot more children than that, and even needs like poverty, hunger, and disease are far too large for a few billion dollars to wipe out.  But it can still be said, as a country we are spending FAR too much money on political campaigning.  Even where there are laws to safeguard against special interest groups, donors and powers are finding ways to connect the dots.  We must confess that we are a country with selfishness and ego, and are collectively making a statement that politics and attempts to control/influence power are more important to us than serving the poor and powerless.  Even those who might take a stand, saying that millions of dollars are going to advocate for a candidate who might eventually be able to take a stand for the oppressed – must admit, this is not the best path to such transformation.

So what do most of us do?  We see a broken system, but most of us aren’t connected to the actual brokenness of it all.  Hearing the ads, maybe putting a sign in our lawn, and casting a vote is the most many of us might do.  (Predictions say around 40% will even vote.)  Less than 0.2% of the 310 Million Americans give more than $200 to any campaign.  That’s 620,000 people.  But over 66% of what has been given comes from sources that give more than this.  The maximum one person can give is (officially) $2,600.  How many people gave at least that?  93,000 people.  The percentages certainly make it seem smaller than it is, as 700,000 people giving large amounts is still a pretty good group of contributors.  The largest numbers come from the top, of course, where donations come in the form of Millions of dollars.  The top 20 contributors alone gave about $169 Million.  Sigh.  this is actually a long road to travel, and I think I’ve lost myself even if I have any readers left…

Kinda makes you frustrated, eh?  Gets your blood boiling?  That a country with so much need could throw away so much money on something so fleeting as the next election?  Good thing we’re not a part of anything that puts giant financial contributions above the needs of the poor and powerless…..right?

Oh wait…(NFL makes over $10 Billion annually)

So yeah….we have a need for a National outpouring of confession.  We need to repent (turn away from) these things, and turn toward God.  Not only in heart, but in what we give our time and resources to…

What does that look like?

 

 

%d bloggers like this: