Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Is Jesus Dead?

Much of what happens in churches today is little more than what you might get if you combined an AA group, a Rotary Club, and a positive-thinking seminar.

Jesus is important, but he is important mostly as an idea.

Even in very conservative churches, Jesus is little more than a person who once did something that benefits his followers today. The really important event was his crucifixion. The Resurrection was a nice bonus, sort of an "in-your-face" to Satan. And the Ascension is virtually ignored.

Of course, if you asked these people they would say that they believe Jesus lives in heaven.

But it is well established that what people say they believe is often very different than what they actually believe.

Let's face it, most of what happens in churches doesn't need Jesus to be alive.

The worst offenders are pastors.

We act as if everything depends upon us. We want God to bless our work, but it is our work. We may ask God for advice from time to time, but it is up to us to perform our ministry with faithfulness and to produce results for the kingdom.

  • We go to school to be trained how to be effective ministers.
  • We read books about becoming better leaders.
  • We go to seminars to learn how to cast our vision.
  • We develop goals and plans to make the most use of our time and our abilities.
  • We may even go to retreats to learn how to depend more upon God in what we do.

But in the end, it is our work and our ministry.

In effect, we have killed Jesus all over again.

This is not our church, our work, our ministry. It is his Church and his ministry.

The issue is not How does Jesus get in on our ministries? Instead, because he is the living and reigning Lord, the issue is now What is he up to, and how do I hitch a ride on whatever he is up to?

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 12

What we do as pastors is not determined by a market survey. It is not determined by a skills assessment. It is not determined by an oversight board's idea of what should be done.

The first and central question in thinking about ministry is Who is Jesus Christ and what is he up to?

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 13

Our normal approach to ministry is the problem.

All that we think we should do and can do and are doing in ministry must be put to death.

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 13

Everything we "know" about pastoral ministry is wrong:

Ministry is not a matter of a minister working hard, preaching relevant sermons, being a super-efficient congregational administrator, attending those who are sick, downcast, grieving and lonely, all the while growing the congregation and charming the people with a winsome and attractive ability to relate warmly.

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 119

This is the primary purpose of pastoral ministry:

At its core, pastoral work involves bearing witness to the joining of two stories, the parishioner's and God's. Who is Jesus Christ specifically for this person amid the particularities and exigencies of her current life experience?

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 128

Pastoral care is not primarily about the minister's care. Neither is the minister a professional for hire who is paid to care. His or her primary mission is to bear witness to Jesus Christ. The specific skill that is brought is theological rather than functional.

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, p. 144

The thing we must do is bear witness to the Lord who always gets there, wherever there is, ahead of us with his healing, saving, blessing, renewing, restoring, raising, forgiving, comforting and kingdom-bringing ministry of God's grace, love and communion.

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry, pp. 133

Go to Amazon now and buy The Crucifixion of Ministry.

Jesus is Lord. Act like it.

Pastor Rod

"Helping You Become the Person God Created You to Be"


4 comments:

Stevie B said...

Pastor Rod
I really really really appreciated this post. It stirs me up and gives me great satisfaction (in that "hurts so good" kind of way) to read this post
Good job and don't hold back. The tide of modern churchianity needs to be rolled back with no compromise such as yours.

Keep honoring HIM.

Steve

Pastor Rod said...

Stevie,

Thanks for the kind words and the encouragement. I'm glad you found this post helpful.

God Bless,

Rod

Uncle Ben said...

You must get tired of all of the positive comments that you get! That said (friendly wink included for free) I really do appreciate your posts, this one definitely included. It reminds me of an entry in Oswald Chamber's "My Utmost for his Highest" that I read while watching a Twins game a couple of years ago (we lost). He tore apart the notion of working for God. It's hard to come to grips with the notion that we're not supposed to God's work (with his blessing of course.) As I read recently, our old self is drowned in baptism, but he's a remarkably good underwater swimmer.

Pastor Rod said...

Ben,

There is no such thing as too much encouragement. It means a lot that you find my posts helpful.

It's hard to grasp how we can do God's work without "doing God's work." But it seems to be easier to process as you get older and experience more frustration in ministry.

It also helps to come clean as a failure: "Hi, my name is Rod and I'm a failure." That's when God can really use us ego-plagued ministers.

Thanks for adding your comments.

God Bless,
Rod