Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak; because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose; because Jesus is someone, I am free to be no one; because Jesus is extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary; because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail; because Jesus is the way, the life and the truth, I don’t have to come up with my own walk of life or purpose for that matter. This truth I read somewhere defines my life and informs my ministry.
Mission/Purpose of the ChurchWhat is Christianity? It is at its heart Christ. Christianity is not an ideology or a philosophy. Neither is it a type of morality, social ethic or worldview that differs from others. Christianity is not even about following Jesus as if he was a worthy human whose footstep to imitate. Christianity at its heart is the life that Jesus lived in the past, lived out in those who believe in the presents. Hence it is in Him that true humanity is found. Therefore the purpose of the church, to be a living link between God and His creation today, is unique to us who are the church.
We are this link by being a healthy church within the reach of all people of all cultures
- in the course of intentionally living a life of unconditional love and reconciliation,
- as the result of interpreting life biblically through deliberate and ongoing reflection,
- through maturing congregants from first to last,
- by way of accepting individual responsibility for the overall health of the church,
- commissioning prepared people for purposeful service,
- investing human and financial resources with this in mind and
- finding continuously new ways to connect unreached people with the gospel and us.
- The Church as the family of God is the foundation for the growth of the Kingdom of God on earth.
- The Church as the family of God is the primary context for developing believers.
- The Church as the family of God is to minister on behalf of Christ to all people.
- The Church as the family of God is to worship and serve God.
- The Church as the family of God in loving relationship to one another is a witness of the loving relationship within the Trinitarian God to the world.
The Spirit of God unites our lives with other believers so that we continue to grow in our faith. This is not an accident or a decision from the hearts of believers; it is according to the divine purpose of God. God has a purpose for every person in the family. This purpose, however, is never in isolation but has always a corporate dimension. The purpose of discipleship/mentorship to help the individual to make a transition from knowing and doing the will of God as an individual to knowing and doing the will of God within a cooperate body of believers.
- All persons are made uniquely in the image of God and possess intrinsic worth.
- All persons have a need to know Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord.
- All persons can be saved and begin a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
- All persons have unique gifts to contribute to the Kingdom of God and therefore to the church.
Pastoral leadership;Pastoral leadership is the process of allowing the people to take part in the message of belonging to God and one another through the cross. Every group of people has a particular work environment, brought about by its heritage of past leaders and its present leaders, which dictates to a considerable degree how its leaders respond to problems and opportunities. The development of trust and friendship, therefore, within the team of leaders is an important aspect of pastoral leadership as there might be times where Paul’s warnings to the Ephesians rings all too true “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Practicing;The pastoral role must be seen in terms of reproducing the character of Jesus through the help and empowerment of the Holy Spirit. “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” 1 Cor11:1 is the method of training. One of the challenges facing the body of Christ is that although we are prepared for worship, to study, to plan and to work for Christ, we lack the conviction that it is possible to follow Him, or any of the deeply flawed disciples, including Paul in today’s world. Jesus is divine, the disciples were handpicked, but we are humans. Jesus is perfect, the disciples had seen and touched Him, but we are flawed. The New Testament in particular labours under the expectation that those who come to would find themselves changed into the likeness of Christ, but not only the individual but also the cooperate body, aka the church. The central problem for an intentional effort within the church is our unspoken view of “Jesus as the Impossible Mentor.” Scripture nonetheless encourages those who follow Christ to live in a tangible visible manner different from the rest of the world, the “old creation.” The issue in discipleship is less about failed perfection (cf. Matt 5:48) as the application of the faith in a manner that brings visible results, the kind of results that would give hope the watching world. Our enlightenment mindset, however, reinforces the notion of intellectual learning as the highest good. Discipleship is much less about learning about Him as it is to be conformed to His purpose. Discipleship begins when we acknowledge that Jesus chose deeply flawed individuals as His followers, and prepared these together to be discipleship makers in His absence. The reality that these men were something less than the perfect Son of God did not disqualify them from making disciples. In our frame of reference, however, when we see character flaws in others, and we will, we tend to reject them as worthy mentors. When we realize our own weaknesses we consider ourselves disqualified from making disciples. This has bled over into a reluctance to follow others, reinforced by our tendency of individualism, precisely because no one is perfect.
Ministry of the Word
When I am talking about weakness I am not talking about sins of any kind – like greed, overeating, or laziness. Rather, I am speaking of authenticity, accepting any limitation in our life or ministry that we’ve inherited and can’t necessarily change, as something God will use for His glory. Usually we resist or resent any limitation that we have in our ministry. We even ask God to remove them, Paul did, but look how that went. Or we use them to excuse our hesitation, Moses tried and got Aaron. But if God shows himself strong in these limitations, then why should he take them away? The fact is God works through our human weaknesses rather than eliminating them.
Remembering our weakness, shortcomings and pains keeps us open to the hurts and needs of others. If we never struggled with any weaknesses, perhaps even struggling with temptation, ministry is out of touch with true life. Leaders who hide any struggles, and deny that they’ve had any pain are difficult to follow. Perhaps for that reason only few leaders of God’s people are mentioned in Scripture with little or no obvious struggle with sin. Somewhat our weakness and struggles will be used to expand our capacity to minister to others if we have handed them to God. Just as God comforted and strengthened us in times of doubt, struggle and pain, just as God loved us while we were still sinners, we can comfort others with the same comfort we’ve been given, we can love them with the same love that we are loved with.
Further, uncovered limitations of any kind prevent pride, something leaders will wrestle with perhaps more than others. Paul for example had a thorn. We don’t know what that thorn was, but we know he was aware of it, did not like it, had difficulties to embrace it and yet we know it kept Paul humble for his and our good (cf. 2 Cor 12:7f).
This is a long way to explain why I tend to favour preaching, where the primary task on Sunday morning is "proclaiming" the reality of the world as it is under the Good News of Christ that renders all things new. This means that my first task is to describe the world as it is via the person and work of Jesus Christ, then invite the hearers into this reality by calling for submission, confession, obedience, or the affirmation of the truth. I believe that in Christ, by the Holy Spirit, "the eyes of our thinking are opened, and we receive a new dream," and over time, through the working of the Holy Spirit our character changes, our view of the world changes, the way we see the poor, our money, our children, ourselves - everything changes because Scripture is alive, is real accounts, testimonies, and witnesses of God's people.
Outside voicesIt is easy to listen to one-self and to agree with one-self, even as a local church. At the same time, we are confronted with a diversity of diversities like never before and we are often ill-prepared to engage it as our immediate surrounding is becoming more global every day. Engaging diversity of thoughts and culture is something that cannot be ignored any longer. In a world that does not know how to reconcile, even less how to reconcile the paradox of diversity and unity in the multitude of ways it manifests, the body of Christ has a responsibility of engaging diversity of all forms since it is inherit in our faith. Although the natural response is to discourage or condemn that which is different from one's norm and the idea of embracing that which his different is unintuitive and alarming to us, we are called to seek those who are lost and who naturally will differ from us. Culturally diverse is how the church exists as a diverse body amongst the tribes, tongues and nations of this world. That does not however mean that we conform to this world in its behaviour, but rather that we continue to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, testing in order to discern what is good and acceptable and perfect as we have diversity and unity in the Triune God Himself, the first cause of everything. Therefor a leader needs to listen to others intentionally and purposefully, through mentorship, listening to other pastors, reading books (not just those he likes), conferences and pastor retreats to name a few. What is important as well is that I am listening to my wife for she is given to me for that purpose, to be my sounding board and co-worker of the gospel.
Some of my thinking has been greatly influenced by authors such as Timothy Keller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr, Ronald Sider and JR Woodward. I continue to read broadly and would say that the sentiment displayed by Paul in Phil 3:12-13 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” describes me best.
I hope this gives you a sneak peek of some of my thoughts and what God has done and is doing in my life.