I know you’ve been dying to know who said it. Well, it was Jim Elliot, modern missionary martyr who said:
It is not the winning of souls nor the spreading of missions that should inflame me. Paul said “I count all loss that I may win (not souls) but Christ” (Phil. 3:8). [Taken from The Journals of Jim Elliot, p. 82.]
My churchhas the privilege of hosting the Steve Pettit Evangelistic Team for outreach meetings in less than two weeks time. Our advertising for the meetings has centred around the theme “Discover the Real Jesus.” We knew that we would spend thousands of dollars advertising and yet only a fraction of those who saw the ad would attend the meetings, so we wanted the ad itself to be confronting. Check out the website.
Of course we’ve gotten plenty of negative feedback. Mostly from Christians. And then News Digital Media refused to publish our ad campaign on The Cairns Post because it was deemed “offensive.” If that’s not religious discrimination, I don’t know what is. (Note: The Cairns Post had no problem with the ad and has been very helpful throughout this process. NDM is the parent company in Sydney).
Anyway, we would appreciate your prayers as we passionately pursue the glory of Christ and the souls of men through these meetings.
Now to our regularly scheduled programme…
Ok. So, carrying on from where we left off, when it comes to methods in the local church, the most important thing to realise is that the people are the local church. Ministries should be nothing more than structures that allow the body to be the body.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. -1 Corinthians 12:27
Chapter 12 makes a prolonged arguement that every body part is different, designed for different functions in the body, but all have the same head and all seek the good of the body as a whole. So if every body part has a different gift, a different function, a different focus, then we’ve got to make sure we don’t hinder the body parts from doing their part. In other words, the primary purpose of a programme is to facilitate the proper functioning of the body. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Programmes should never drive ministry
If our programmes are “worker hungry” (always looking for more workers), then they are out of place. Have you ever visited a church and even before you had a chance to evaluate the place you were being told how much of a help you could be to them? That’s evidence that the programmes are driving the ministry. We’ve got to tear that whole mindset down and build a new one based on a biblical theology of the body.
Build your programmes around your people
What we need to be doing is building people. After all, that’s the great commission. And a growing body part cannot be healthy unless it’s doing what it was put there to do. In other words, we don’t need people. People need us! And the purpose of the programmes is to give them a structure in which to use their gifts and fulfil their purpose in the building up of the body.
So what does this look like practically? Well, it means we’ve got to stop asking “Who can we get to help with Kids Klub?” and start asking “What are Bob’s gifts and passions? Where can we fit Bob in so that he’ll function like he’s supposed to in the body?”
That means we’re going to have to get to know Bob well enough that we understand Bob’s gifts and passions without giving him a seven week course on spiritual gifts and a three hour personal diagnostic questionaire and interview.
It also means we might need to start a new programme for Bob and it might mean we have to close an old programme down when someone leaves the body. Why? Because we’re building our programmes around our people. Not the other way around.
Odds and ends
Grace to you.