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Ministry Within The Context Of Culture – A Few Considerations

(Written by Kevin A. Hall       04.30.17)

Gene Getz wrote a fascinating book on “Sharpening the Focus of the Church”. A review of the material suggests that there are some things that we take for granted when it comes to the operation of ministry. According to Getz there are 6 focus areas that church leadership can place an intentional effort in order to achieve their desired purpose and objectives – Evangelism, Edification, Leadership, Communication, Administration and Organization. In all these areas a few key questions should be asked to assess effectiveness: (1) How can biblical principles be translated into purpose? (2)  How can the goals, objectives and standards be formulated for the local church? As we make these assessments in all areas of the ministry, we cannot afford to allow ourselves to be in bondage to the culture and we definitely should not be separated from it. Every consideration we make should be done in light of scripture with the intent to build bridges.

As we consider the impact of culture, the church needs to look at her place within that culture. How does culture impact the worldview of its members? How does the church impact society? We need to provide outlets for the church to be incarnated into the society; adapting yet not compromising. This means ensuring our reach extends beyond the four walls to influence activities within the government, businesses, schools, the arts, our church programs and especially our homes.

Regarding Evangelism, we need to consider our role in contributing toward the Great Commission. Does the mission of the church extend into the local community and beyond? Is there an effort to encourage corporate witnessing? Is the church just a “Saving Station” or is it a “Place of Empowerment – A Bridge to the World”? How are we doing in reaching families, households and single individuals? Are we actively seeking to identify, develop and to deploy our members’ gifts? How about our New Convert Care – what happens after we have made converts? Is there a strategy in place to “disciple” our brothers and sisters?

Because Edification is the channel through which we “make mature”, then we should consider the effectiveness of our Bible teaching programs. The strategies we use should develop levels of maturity, spiritual awareness, sensitivity and enlightenment. These programs should help us move beyond the knowledge level to a greater development of relational experiences. It is our responsibility to help families grow so that they have the “spiritual equipment to combat negative secular experiences”. Our goal then should be the equipping of the saints for Christian Service.

Administration plays a most important role in the life and health of the church. It may be something that most people never see, but its effectiveness is exactly what most people see. Administrations helps the church to establish priorities and achieve balance. Effective administration should afford opportunities to creatively solve issues, get organized and provide means for effective communication. We should avoid becoming concerned with “existing” as opposed to “why we exist”; advocating external non-absolutes as opposed to spiritual absolutes; caring more about the process than about the person.

Of course, none of this happens effectively without good leadership. In every group, we will find the innovators, the inhibitors and the ever so faithful conservatives. The teaching of God’s Word is the means to biblical submission. A healthy church cannot be a “one man show”. There needs to be a working of a multiple leader model. This approach will encourage the Pastor/Teacher to not become burnt out and overburdened. And as we select our leaders, attention should be placed on biblical qualifications rather than outward qualities. The Bible does stipulate qualifications for leaders of the church (Ephesians, Titus & Timothy).

As we plan activities, programs, and curriculum, the Bible must remain our normative source for information. We should provide ample opportunities for the study of the Bible, and for the edification and equipping of the saints. We live in a technological age therefore we should use all possible technological means at our disposal for both edification and means of evangelism. Both Jesus and Paul serves as examples in this area. We should be creative and flexible in this postmodern generation. Getz reminds us that “a communications revolution in the culture should also lead to a communications revolution within the church”. Unfortunately, most times the church looks at these advantages with disdain and fear, taking years to catch up. This can make us seem irrelevant to the culture. Much of this I will say is tied to leadership. If we wish to grow, then evaluation of processes and means must be continual. It is biblical to evaluate (2 Cor. 3:15; Gal. 6:4; 1 Thes. 5:21; 1 Thes. 3:5). Our evaluations should be constant (assessing needs, mission, resources, focus, spiritual health). Benefits from evaluation will extend to ensuring that no believer is left behind – Every member will be helped, encouraged and held accountable. It is difficult to grow in isolation. We all need each other, as the goal is spiritual union, the building up of each other into Christ, the maturity of every believer.

Reference:

Getz. G. Sharpening The Focus Of The Church. Victor Books (1984). 9780896933934

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