becoming a church of irresistible influence (3)

At least part of what’s opened up the chasm between local churches and their communities has got to be our overwhelming focus on church activities. This is not just a matter of social events steamrolling gospel-driven programmes. It’s as much a matter of what we consider worthwhile investments of personnel, training and resources.

Utkin Bridge, St Petersberg (No, I haven't been there!)

Utkin Bridge, St Petersberg (No, I haven't been there!)

Unfortunately, I suspect it’s symptomatic of a degree of tunnel vision about what Christian ministry is.

Take the whole issue of training, for example. What are you training people for? Cast your mind back over the training programmes you’ve offered over the last two or three years. Be honest. What have they prepared people for? Where’s the emphasis been?

I’d put money on the fact that you’ve probably mainly prepared people for ‘word ministry’ — leading Bible studies, personal evangelism, answering tough questions, etc. Which is all good. But is that what Paul means when he fleshes out the job description of the apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor-teachers in terms of equipping the saints for works of service (Eph 4.11-13)?

Whatever we may have to say about the significance of the word ministries for building the body, nowhere does Paul imply they’re the only worthwhile form of ministry or service. God is honoured as we bear spiritual fruit in transformed characters and faith working itself out in love. And that will no doubt take a variety of forms.

Which leads me to wonder … what structures would we have to put in place in our churches if we were took seriously training people for this rather than exclusively for word ministry?



  1. Chris!

    As far as I can determine you are the first and only other blog to be referenced on The Rector’s blog, yet I come here and find that nobody is commenting!

    I think blogs should have an “i like this” button for quick feedback, like facebook – it would make it easier than coming up with a witty paragraph like this one.

    Amen re training members for wider-than-word ministry.

  2. Or would such training programs violate ‘simple church’ principles, and therefore best be done on the job, as part of the team that is actually doing the ministry?

    Or perhaps, most of this sort of stuff doesn’t actually require training?

    Of course, I am totally on board with the drive of this!

  3. Simple churches are definitely the best churches 🙂

    But given that some (many?) “works of service” are inherently solo, there won’t always be a team context in which training/equipping can be done.

    1. I guess talking about ‘training’ is just the hook to catch my target audience. Perhaps ‘resourcing’ or ‘providing tools for your toolkit’ or (to put it bluntly) ‘funding’ might have been the better term?

  4. My friend and fellow servant,

    I just recently happened upon your challenging but grace”full” blog. I am honored and humbled that you share you heart and mind with the world via “standing & waiting”.

    My wife and I recently joined a church that has the mindset you speak of. The church itself is focused on being more than just a “word ministry” but a whole ministry church. Our desire is to connect our City to Christ… one person at a time. Investing our time and life into other people not just money and buildings. It’s refreshing to know that we are not alone in our vision and work. Grace and peace to you and keep up the sound blogging.

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