In my last writing, I talked about being sensible in your expectations. What follows is what I consider the ‘Hardtack’ of ministry. Hardtack, as some may remember, is basic sustenance that soldiers would carry in case of emergency. While not a gourmet meal, it was useful to sustain life and when survival is the key, it was great to have. If your church is to survive, this ‘hardtack’ had better be available at all times….
For me, the mantra of ministry is to “Love, Serve, & Disciple” other people. The words are organized in an order for a reason. Love should flow from our relationship with Christ. It should permeate all that we do. Even when we’re having a bad day, we can still choose to love others. Every Christian and many non-believers know the verse from John 3:16 about Jesus coming to save us but not as many, including Christians, know the words of 1 John 3:16…
This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for each other as brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:16)
Wow! Did you get that? John 3:16 tells about God giving us his only son to save us and this verse says that we should give our lives for each other. If you do nothing else but live this verse, is it church? However you answer know this, if you DO NOT live this verse, any and everything else you do as a group is NOT church. End of discussion.
As we read God’s Word and allow it to permeate our hearts, the next logical step is to serve others in love. Jesus modeled this for us when he left heaven and His throne to become a servant to each of us. Thus, when we approach God for direction, Jesus reminds us…
“Whoever wants to be the most important must make others more important than themselves. They must serve everyone else.” (Mark 9:35)
Too many churches today serve a system, a building program, or professional staff. How many are serving everyone else? Granted, it’s hard to get everyone on board to do things. Even in large institutional churches we see the “Pareto” principle of 20% doing 80% of the work and vice-versa for the lax attenders. But the goal of leadership is to live these verses. Some do it very well. Others, in my humble opinion, do a great job ‘outsourcing’ this work to others, including government programs, para-church ministries (which are excellent by the way), and someone else.
You might feel you’re not gifted in this area but more likely it’s an excuse to avoid the hard (and necessary) work of ministry. Learning to love, then living it by serving opens the door to where most churches want to start…Discipleship. Many call it evangelism which can be a good term but the two are different. Evangelism is promoting the gospel of Christ…So if that’s what you REALLY want to do go back and re-read this post up to this point because Jesus says this:
“Follow my example: Even the Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. He came to serve others and to give his life to save many people.” (Mark 10:45)
Hmmm…It seems the first two points of my writing are encapsulated in this one verse. He gave his life away (in love) to others and He willingly chose to serve others rather than be served which He was fully entitled to. If that is the case, then to promote THIS message (evangelism) would be to live it out since Jesus did say to follow His example right? Right? To me, this is a non-negotiable. To push it off on others, to delegate it to a ‘program’ (which many pastors do) is SIN. Yes, I called it SIN. It’s being disobedient to God’s call and that my friends is SIN. God will not bless sin. You may think you have a church if you neglect this part of the Christian life but what you really have is a religious social club.
If we now accept the premise that to love and to serve IS evangelism, then it makes sense that out of those actions comes conversions. This is where you must learn to use Scripture to lead someone to faith in Christ. After you’ve loved and served, God will open doors for you to share with others about the Body Life in Christ. Having done this, NOW you can Disciple…This is where the familiar ‘Great Commission’ from Jesus comes in:
So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Living life together as a group, loving and serving each other and people outside of your group, and serving Jesus in all things will bring about new converts. We must be solid handlers of God’s Word and biblical discipleship is a must. In a future series, I will share more about this area but for now let me share with you a life verse for me. It comes from the Apostle Paul:
What you have heard me teach publicly you should teach to others. Share these teachings with people you can trust. Then they will be able to teach others these same things. (2 Timothy 2:2)
THIS to me is discipleship. Allowing others to duplicate what has just happened. New Churches will establish themselves from such a basic execution of this verse. You cannot skip any of the three steps of this process in order to produce body life, all three MUST be there. And I might add, all three must be present in your life if you are truly a Christian. You cannot donate money to an organization to do this work for you. If you’re a pastor, you must model this to your church and expect it from those who you consider your leaders. If it’s not present in them, find new leaders. God will not bless disobedience to what He has made His commandment.
More in my next post…