Saturday, June 14, 2008

The shape and pattern of gospel ministry

Here's the intro to my address at the Bala ministers conference:

A friend of mine, who is now a minister, in his student days had a summer job in a builders yard. One of his first tasks was to cut several identical lengths of wood that a customer had ordered. So he measured out the length and cut the first one. Then he took that piece of wood ,lay it along the length he was cutting from, marked it off, and cut the second piece. He then took the second piece, measured the next length and cut it. He then took that third cutting and used it to measure the fourth. He took the fourth and measured the fifth. And on and on he went. Each freshly cut length was used to measure the next. By the end he had eight pieces of wood of different lengths, each one shorter than the other, and one angry boss.

How are you and I measuring out our ministries? How do we determine our priorities? As we think of the pressures on us each week how will be know what really matters in ministry?

One way would be to take our measurements from great ministers in the past; from a George Whitefield, a Spurgeon, a Richard Baxter, a Martyn Lloyd-Jones. And there is much to be gained from learning from men that God raised up and eminently used in the past. Another way would be to look at the ministry of men like John Piper, or Tim Keller, and to see how we can be like them.

But the best thing for us to do as we think of what really matters in ministry is to go to the place where the most accurate measurements are given.

In Acts 20:17-38 we are given the true dimensions that set out the shape and pattern of authentic gospel ministry and pastoral care.

If we have lost our way, or if we have been using the wrong standard, this passage will help us realign our ministry. But this is more than a passage to give us the measurements for ministry. Measurements in themselves are cold and technical. No, this message should stir up our hearts and touch our consciences to preach the gospel, and to devote ourselves afresh to serving Christ and to feeding and protecting his Church.

One writer has said that this is "the most explicit and complete instruction on spiritual leadership given to a New Testament church."

1 comment:

Forrest Schultz said...

The same Irenaeus who wrote Against Heresies also coined the term "Canon of Truth" to refer to the thought-system of Scripture. In Greek a kanon was a measuring instrument used to insure the proper construction of a building, such as, for example, a ruler to insure that the boards are cut to the rigbt length. I was therefore suprised that you did not note this in your remarks.


Forrest Schultz