Questions on the Meaning of “Ministry”

A matter of point of view

Last week, Kurt was kind enough to host me on his blog with an article I contributed. On of the things that I mused in that post was the way Christians in general have understood ministry. This is usually the general consensus among Christians when they understand ministry, “Real ministry is said to only happen in a church setting. Whatever that is outside is not.”

Scot McKnight recently posted a discussion that started from a question by one of his readers concerning “ministry.” It’s worth reading the comments of people on that very post.

On a general observation of the comments on that post, I think more and more are taking the word “ministry” to mean something more than just what we do in “church.” It’s a good sign that we’re moving on from a reductionist position on that word. But I do wish some of our leaders would know that ‘ministry’ has with it a broader meaning. Not just “church” stuff.

Loving God, Giving Away our Possessions for the Other

Photos from the Scot McKnight Seminar at GFES ...

Here is a quote by Scot McKnight, reflecting on Keller’s explanation on his encounter with the rich young ruler (read the rest of the post here):

I’ll give you my take: I think Jesus showed the man that he didn’t follow the second table of the Ten Commandments because Jesus adds Lev 19:18, love your neighbor, as the way to read the second table, and Jesus reveals to the man that he really doesn’t love others because true love for neighbor is to surrender possessions for the poor. I see here a radical kingdom vision wherein Jesus is Lord (where I see the gravity of this passage), where fellowship with others (all) shapes what we do with what we have, and wherein Jesus as Lord (the cross-shaped life to be sure) means we undertake to live what he calls us to do.

In this post, McKnight sees Keller’s explanation as “vintage Keller” reading from a view that is derived “from his Augustinian anthropology and Reformation lens of soteriology.” But in McKnight’s take on Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler, I have to say this is vintage McKnight. If you’ve read Jesus Creed then you’d know what I mean. Because for McKnight, our love for God should spill out to reflect our love for others. In this case, the real test for the rich young ruler to really show his devotion to God is by giving away all his possession. I think McKnight gets the broader picture here, although not undermining Keller’s take that the young ruler was in fact holding tight on his reliance on his riches as a means for security.

It’s quite a call as well as demand but initially it will eventually reflect where our devotion to God lies.

Jesus Creed for Students

Ever since I read “Jesus Creed” by Scot McKnight, I’ve been a fan of his writings ever since. But “Jesus Creed” has been a revolutionary book in my Christian faith development. That’s why I’m exited about the new student edition of the book, “Jesus Creed for Students.” McKnight states that

This is a completely new book from anything I’ve written. It has been edited and edited to make it understandable and useful for students. (Read about how to get it free here!)

It looks good.

Stanley Hauerwas Interviewed

I haven’t really read anything by Stanley Hauerwas yet but I bought a second hand book by him entitled “The Peaceable Kingdom” somewhere last month (it was a steal really at RM 10.00!!!). I also saw his theological memoir at a local christian bookstore which was quite pricey and I didn’t have money to afford it. The book is called “Hanna’s Child.” Now that I have some cash to spare, the book has been out of stock. A major bummer.

A bummer because, I read this post by Scot McKnight about the book and he mentioned a lot of interesting things about the general content of the book, which made me “want it.” Yeah, it’s making me have these cravings which seems to be nearing sin level. But when it comes I’ll probably pick it up for sure. McKnight also posted his favorite quotations from the book.

But, to get a feel of this Hauerwas guy, apart from finding it hard to pronounce the name just by reading it (like me), you can watch this interview of the man himself talking about the book, talking about church and answering questions. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the video.

Discipleship “Methods” of the Organic Church

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...
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I read this over at Jesus Creed. Scot McKnight recently highlighted this article by Frank Viola who is a proponent of what is called the “Organic Church.” Viola is a critic of organized religion or for that matter the institutionalized church. For him a better fit of doing ministry and church is to model it after the biblical perspective, or should I say a more historically directed approach to doing church.

He says a lot of good things in his proposal. Most of which must be commended. But I think he is far to harsh in his criticism and proposal. Here is the comment that I posted regarding the article by Viola on the Jesus Creed blog (you can read other comments as well):

Although what Viola proposes is commendable and in some ways biblical, my only question is, “what authenticity are we seeking really? Is it simply being confined to the way things were back in the biblical days or are we to simply fill in the blanks where the bible seems silent, by that I mean in how we do discipleship?” I think we cannot restrict ourselves to the age old model but seek ways to enhance our understanding of changing times or context and seek biblical wisdom to ground how we do things. To me we have to be open. Although Viola proposes we conform just to the “biblical” pattern, how would we really know how they actually did discipleship? All we have are patterns not constriction. The bible is more open than the vision of the organic Church. In a way, the organic church is advocating their own brand of “institution.”

Deconstructing Popular Raves on Leadership

Christ and The Pharisees
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Leadership is important. And indeed it is. Without capable leaders things wouldn’t move or go anywhere or simply nothing will happen. Leaders set the tempo, gather a team of people, and points to the next level. Well, it all boils down to; leadership is something important.

But sometimes too much emphasis on leadership makes people want fame, status and power. Too bad that this sort of thing happens in the church. A distorted emphasis on leadership leads to these bad behaviors.

David Fitch has a blog post deconstructing the notion of leadership or rather the understanding of leadership on his blog. It’s not that long but if you are looking for a shorter treatment to the same subject read Scot McKnight‘s article.

Well here’s a snippet of what McKnight wrote that is from that article;

So I want to put my idea on the line and see where it leads us. We have one leader, and his name is Jesus. I want to bang this home with a quotation from Jesus from Matthew 23, where he seems to be staring at the glow of leadership in the eyes of his disciples, and he does nothing short of deconstructing the glow:

But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth “father,” for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Instead of seeing myself as a leader, I see myself as a follower. Instead of plotting how to lead, I plot how to follow Jesus with others. Instead of seeing myself at the helm of some boat—and mine is small compared to many others—I see myself inthe boat, with Jesus at the helm.

Well, not to say that leadership is not biblical. That’s too extreme for me. It’s the distorted emphasis by people that is that makes leadership a bad thing. Anyways, I like what both McKnight and Fitch are saying.

The Jesus and Paul Question

Photos from the Scot McKnight Seminar at GFES ...

I’ve often mulled around trying to understand how Jesus‘ emphasis of the kingdom is something connected to the message that Paul himself preached, things to do with justification and salvation. Ever since reading Brian McLaren and the emerging movement, my awareness of this chasm has increased. Before, questioning these things did not matter. But now they really do. How could I have neglected such detail.

I’ve heard and read lectures that simply said that simply said that Jesus and Paul spoke about the same thing. Jesus talked about the kingdom of God and so did Paul. One can see Paul being connected to the kingdom message by reading the end of the Acts narrative. Well, that’s a good way of putting it. But actually that doesn’t really answer the question.

But this article by Scot McKnight answers this particular question concerning the Jesus and Paul question. It’s a brilliant article, one I wished I read before writing anything on the subject. McKnight doesn’t just fit Jesus and Paul as saying the same thing but he connects their message by looking at what is the gospel. McKnight states that in order to see or merge the connection of what ?Jesus and Paul taught or preached, one has to start with, “What is Gospel?” Read the article to see how he explains this.

Here’s an excerpt of the end of the article that sums up the findings in a concise manner

My contention, then, is simple: If we begin with kingdom, we have to twist Paul into shape to fit a kingdom vision. If we begin with justification, we have to twist Jesus into shape to fit justification. But if we begin with gospel, and if we understand gospel as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, then we will find what unifies Jesus and Paul—that both witness to Jesus as the center of God’s story. The gospel is the core of the Bible, and the gospel is the story of Jesus. (video) Every time we talk about Jesus, we are gospeling. Telling others about Jesus leads to both the kingdom and—but only if we begin with Jesus.