Published On: 5 November, 2008|By |

Well, by the time you read this, the US elections will be history (God willing) and a lot of people will be very disappointed. I hope I’m not one of them.

Who said it?

Ok. Here’s the game. I give a quote. You guess who said it under comments. One rule. You can’t Google it. Or search it digitally in any way. So here’s the quote.

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).

If you guess it right, I will shout you coffee next time you’re in Cairns (offer expires 1 December, 2009 and is invalid if I go bankrupt before then or if I’m not in the mood).

The dilemma

I ended last weeks’ discussion with the question of which church programmes to cut. The answer to this dilemma is to realise that programmes are methods. Here are some thoughts on methods:

  1. Methods follow philosophy. In other words, get your programmes in line with your theology. Don’t do anything simply because that’s how it’s done. Be deliberate.
  2. Methods are rarely laid out in Scripture. Ok, so some things are laid out. The ordinances, preaching, using music in worship, etc. These things are mandated. But lots of things aren’t. Raising our children for Christ is mandated. Using Kids Klub on Thursday nights to do it is not. Don’t confuse the two.
  3. Methods change. They change with time, location, and culture. A bus ministry is a method that wouldn’t have been real practical for the first century church. So don’t think that just because they do it, we have to do it.

The bottom line

So, to conclude:

  1. We’ve got to work within the framework of complete submission to God’s Word in those matters which He has clearly laid out.
  2. We’ve got to avoid the canonisation of methods into fundamentals of the faith. Bus ministry isn’t a fundamental. It’s not even important. It’s nothing more than a method. A method that has strengths and weaknesses. A method that does some things well and some things poorly. Hymnals, pianos, chairs, and pulpits would all be in the same category.
  3. We’ve got to find programmes that effectively do what we’re trying to do. We’ve got to be creative enough and courageous enough to find the methods that work in our particular time, place, and culture.
  4. We’ve got to be careful that the methods we choose accomplish our biblical goals, not compromise them.

That’s it. Now here’s what doesn’t matter:

  1. Whether Bob the Fundamentalist pastor down the road likes our methods.
  2. Whether we get rave reviews from the Biblical Builder.
  3. Whether our methods are similar in some ways to xyz Charismatic church down the road.
  4. Whether it’s ever been done before.
  5. Whether it’s scary to pursue our methods.

What does matter is that God is honoured by our method and that His Word is reverenced in our methods. That does matter. It always matters.

“Those young radicals”

Every generation of young leaders likes to think of themselves as radical I suspect. But that is probably because choosing the best method to do the job is radical to tradition-bound humans. There’s nothing virtuous about being radical. There is something virtuous in being so committed to the task at hand that you find the best way to accomplish it and courageously move forward. If that’s radical, so be it.

Next Wednesday, God willing, we’ll discuss how important it is to build your ministries around your people.

In ending

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.

6 Comments

  1. Steven Mock 6 November, 2008 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I remember when someone first told me that a ministry was simply a strategy. I felt like a big penny dropped! AWANA, Sunday School, and bus ministry are simply strategies to reach children for Christ. Strategies come and go. Maybe reaching adults (i.e. parents) – in the long run – is a wiser strategy for reaching children for Christ.

  2. Jason 6 November, 2008 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Yeah. I mean, I think it really depends on where a church is at as well as far as size, gifting of the members, location, culture, etc. I can imagine that for some, pursuing children specifically may be the best strategy, at least for a time. But certainly not for all–or even most.

  3. Mel 8 November, 2008 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    For my family it was my brother, sister and I being reached that brought my father to church. I have seen the same thing happen a number of times but I agree that it definitely depends on the area your in and the people in that area.

  4. Jason 8 November, 2008 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    Hey Mel,

    Yeah, your family is an example of a success story in this realm where three children get saved and then the father later gets saved. This is probably the goal of most ministries to children. But I wonder how often it really does happen…

  5. […] 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 […]

  6. LiviaIDarcy 15 July, 2015 at 12:58 am - Reply

    Good post. I will be facing a few of these issues as well..

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