Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)
Seminars, books, videos, conferences, web sites – everywhere someone is telling us how to do ministry better and be more successful at it. We’ve all tried a number of different approaches with varying degrees of accomplishment. The way the world measures success is different than how God measures it. While there are many good principles we can gleam from the world around us, Christian ministry is very different than anything the world has to offer. The “bottom line” is different and that changes everything.
I am currently in India ministering to pastors and Christians there. In seeking to most effectively train and prepare them I’ve had to think long and hard about what the church and Christianity really is. It’s so easy to get American culture wrapped up with it but I don’t want to waste my time or theirs promoting 21st Century western culture. That’s not what changes lives!
The gospel is transcultural. We must weed out that which is our culture from what is authentic Christianity. Only the true basic elements of Christianity which transcend culture meet human needs. The application of that in a specific society can vary. Fellowship, worship, prayer, learning the Word and outreach are the core ingredients for any ministry (Acts 2:42). How these are carried out can vary from culture to culture but these must be present. I want to let my Indian brethren apply these things as is fitting in their culture. I want to teach them what to do but not how to do it.
That applies to your ministry today as well. Don’t try copying the how of another ministry as if changing programs will somehow improve your ministry. It may become more exciting, and change always seems to bring new life for awhile. But always remember its not the body but the life within that matters. Learn growth principles from the secular world but apply that to the grid of Biblical ministry. When change happens within it is seen from without. However trying to manufacture that external difference by changing cultural forms doesn’t necessarily change hearts or lives. It can just end up in hypocrisy.
Spend much time in prayer. Focus on changing lives, not on building a reputation. Minister to hearts. Don’t just try to impress or entertain numbers of teens. That’s not how Jesus did it and it shouldn’t be how we do it either. Learn from others but stick to the basics. They still bring success in sports and in ministry. Fellowship, teaching, worship/prayer and outreach – these are the key ingredients of any Biblical ministry.
Acts 4:32-35, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”
Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
- How balanced is your ministry between worship/prayer, teaching, fellowship and outreach? Where do you need better balance?
- Ask God to show you where you are guilty of focusing on externals, of looking for a new program to bring life and results?
Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!
Posted on October 26, 2009