Friday, August 13, 2010

How Do You Do Ministry?

Jeffrey Collins shares the following story in the Christian Reader (Mar/Apr 1998):
It had been a trying week at our Love & Action office. At five o'clock on a Friday, I was looking forward to having a quiet dinner with friends. Then the phone rang.
"Jeff! It's Jimmy!" I heard a quivering voice say.
Jimmy, who suffered from several AIDS-related illnesses, was one of our regular clients. "I'm really sick, Jeff. I've got a fever. Please help me."
I was angry. After a sixty-hour work week, I didn't want to hear about Jimmy. But I promised to be right over. Still, during the drive over, I complained to God about the inconvenience.
The moment I walked in the door, I could smell the vomit. Jimmy was on the sofa, shivering and in distress. I wiped his forehead, then got a bucket of soapy water to clean up the mess. I managed to maintain a facade of concern, even though I was raging inside.
A friend, Russ, who also had AIDS, came down the stairs. The odor made Russ sick, too.
As I cleaned the carpet around Russ's chair, I was ready to explode inside. Then Russ startled me. "I understand! I understand!"
"What, Russ?" Jimmy asked weakly.
"I understand who Jesus is," Russ said through tears. "He's like Jeff!"
Weeping, I hugged Russ and prayed with him. That night Russ trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior--a God who had used me to show his love in spite of myself.
What does it look like to do Christian ministry? Jesus makes it simple.
As Jesus sent out the Twelve on their first mission, He told them to concentrate on doing only two things. He told them to heal sick people and to preach the Good News. Jesus was simply telling them to do what they had seen Him doing. He had been going to where the people were and was touching them and teaching them. Here’s what Jesus had been doing:
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. (Matthew 9:35).
Jesus went about preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing hurting people. Now Jesus wants His followers to do the same kind of ministry that He does. Go preach and heal. He sends them to help hurting people and to proclaim the good news.
That’s our ministry as well. We must go preach and heal. Jesus never set up a ministry campus and required all the people to come to where He was. Jesus did not have a “Field of Dreams” mentality: “Build it and they will come.” Some think that all we have to do is to build a church building and people will just flock in. But that is not Jesus’ method of ministry. He says go. His ministry was not building-focused, it was people-focused. He was constantly walking around the region going to where the people were.
The Father sent Jesus into this world and Jesus sends us out into the world. The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18).
The twofold task of a disciple is simple, preach and heal. Jesus didn’t give us four laws or twelve steps or eighteen tasks. He simply said, “GO to where the hurting people are and help them and tell them the good news of the Kingdom.” Our mission is to go where the people are, showing them the love of Jesus by what we do and what we say.
That’s not just the preacher’s job, or the deacons’ job or the church staff’s job. It is the JOB #1 for every disciple of Jesus.
How do you do ministry?
(This post is the third in a series called SIMPLIFY. The second was A Simple Authority for Our Mission. Some of the ideas I’m sharing in this series came from a message called “Packing Light for the Journey of Life” by Pastor David Dykes in Texas.).


  1. Simplify! Simplify! Simplify! This is a great post Richard, I really do appreciate it, for all that I'm having trouble digesting it. You've really challenged me on what it means to do ministry, and build the Kingdom. It's something that every time I think I get a handle on it, I find something to shake me up. lol.

    Thanks again, this is a great post.

  2. Seiji, This word is especially needed for those of us who have been in church ministry for a long time. There are a lot of things that vie for our attention and many of them are just "maintenance" things rather than missional things. God is reteaching me this lesson.

    We had a church meeting the other night and most of it was consumed with minutiae. The mission and ministry of the church was overshadowed by the details of just keeping it going. I wept inside. I have made a decision that things must change in my heart and in my church.

  3. Amen Richard!!!

    I was trying to get together a sermon that goes something like this:

    When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain was torn from top to bottom allowing everyone access to God through Jesus. For a long time now, we have been trying to put that curtain back up....we put it on the front doors of our church. "If you want to hear, feel, or experience Jesus, you have to walk through these doors."

    Don't read too much into it...just a thought that ran through my head the other day.

    We must get out of the church building!

  4. Kevin, there may have been a time when the doors of the church building were an inviting place, when people were naturally draw to the church. The church was the center of the community and its activity. But for most of us that time is long past. Some would view those days as "the good old days." And some of our churches are still trying to act like that is their culture. I'm not sure I want to go back there. I see that Jesus modeled the "go and tell" method more than the "come and see."

  5. I really like this post. The focus of Jesus was not a worship band, nor increasing numbers seated in pews, but rather to go out and preach/heal. Like Kevin said above: we must get out of the church building. I love it! "go and tell" vs "come and see". Good post, Richard!

  6. Steve, good to hear from you. I hope the rest of your trip was okay after the Flagler episode.

    I hope this gives you something to think about as you are looking to see what God wants at Calvary. It's made me think and pray a lot about my own life and church.



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