Published On: 12 November, 2008|By |

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.]

YJDE

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?”

Relationship

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.

About the Author: Jason Harris

Jason loves to communicate God's word both in the local church and at conferences and retreats. Jason has been involved with Worship Music since 1996 and InFocus since 2005. Jason has degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research and is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer in the College of Business, Law, and Governance at James Cook University, Cairns. Jason is also a pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at jason@jasonharris.com.au.

9 Comments

  1. Alen 12 November, 2008 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    “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.”

    This is a very common scenario from what I know in my own experiences and from what others have told me. The mindset is going to be one tough thing to crack though..

  2. Jason 12 November, 2008 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    I agree Alen. I suppose it’s the natural way we think. But I really think it puts the wrong kind of pressure on people by emphasising getting involved in “what we’re doing” instead of getting involved where the Lord has gifted you to minister.

  3. Robert Apps 12 November, 2008 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    Jason, am I the ‘Bob’ you referred to in your article?:)

  4. Jason Harris 12 November, 2008 at 11:12 pm - Reply

    lol! I should have chosen a more veiled character profile!

  5. Robert Apps 14 November, 2008 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Jason,

    I have been thinking about your post for a couple of days now.

    I think we are agreed that people need to serve in ministries that maximise their gifts. There is no point, for a variety of reasons, having people do ministries that they are not equipped or suited to do.

    On the other hand, it takes time for people to discover their blending of spiritual gifts. For example, there are a lot of missionaries and evangelists around who served as pastors for a while until they (and others) saw they were called to a different task.

    So people will often begin in youth or other ministries. Some stay in that ministry or move to other ministries as their gifts become apparent.

    I think the best way to assess gifts is in the context of a ministry. Some people simply will not know if they suited to different tasks until they give them a go.

    To avoid people getting stuck in ministries that don’t suit them, churches needs to have clearly defined terms of service so that people don’t see obligations of service as ’till death do them part’.

    People should be asked on an annual basis about their availability to continue serving so that they have an ‘out’ when it becomes clear that they should be serving elsewhere.

    I think that way we will be better placed to get the right people serving in the right ministries (or programs:))

  6. Jason Harris 14 November, 2008 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    Rob,

    I agree with your point. I think for young people, new church members, and newer believers it is completely appropriate for them to just find a ministry that interests them and get involved. But I do think that we need to see this as a means to getting them in the ideal place, not as the ends.

    I like your idea of an annual opportunity to re-sign-up for ministries, though I would probably prefer to see it done even more often.

  7. […] suppose there’s a lot more that could be said about my topic of the last three weeks. We did get a little interaction happening in the comments which would be […]

  8. My series links » InFocus 31 March, 2012 at 11:33 pm - Reply

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