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).
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- We’ve got to work within the framework of complete submission to God’s Word in those matters which He has clearly laid out.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Whether Bob the Fundamentalist pastor down the road likes our methods.
- Whether we get rave reviews from the Biblical Builder.
- Whether our methods are similar in some ways to xyz Charismatic church down the road.
- Whether it’s ever been done before.
- 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.
- I found the quote in the second half of this post by Andy Naselli helpful.
- Josh Mitchell had some good thoughts this week on Christian liberty.
- He also pointed out that even old theologians can look cool sometimes.
Grace to you.