Thursday, November 19, 2009

WWJD: Jesus' Vision for Ministry

Remember WWJD? Remember the bracelets, t-shirts, gym bags, and even a board game? I do. In fact, the entire WWJD phenomenon started in Holland, Michigan! I remember hearing about it soon after I came to the area. The premise of the 4 letters was to remind people to ask themselves – “What Would Jesus Do?” A good question, even if it was way over-marketed!

On Sunday, we’ll be asking a similar question. What would Jesus do in Carmel, Indiana? What kind of ministry would he run? What priorities would he have? Again, some important questions. I’m not sure we can ever be 100% sure, but our text on Sunday (Matthew 9:35-10:4) gives us a pretty clear picture of some priorities.

The passage is a bridge between Jesus’ words (chapters 5-7), works (chapters 8-9), and his mission (chapter 10). It is the launch of the disciples’ ministry under Jesus’ authority. Much of chapter 10 will identify the various challenges that they will face, particularly talking about persecution and opposition. But for now, Jesus simply outlines some key elements to his ministry:

There are four key commitments in Jesus’ vision for ministry:
  1. The Word – He proclaimed (heralded) the gospel of the kingdom
  2. Compassion – Jesus saw the crowds as sheep without a shepherd
  3. Prayer – earnestly seek laborers from the Lord of the harvest
  4. Gifts – he empowered his disciples to conquer the devil and cure the world
It’s almost like Ministry 101. We need all four elements/commitments or the church does really function like Jesus intended.

How easy it is to drift from these. A few examples:
  1. Word – The emergent church would say that authority doesn’t come from the Word itself but from the community’s interpretation of the Word. Heralding or preaching is passé, conversation is better.
  2. Compassion – How easy it is to see sinful people through the lens of disgust, rigid justice, and fault-finding. But Jesus saw them through a lens. If there was blame, it needed to be partly laid at the feet of spiritual leaders (read Ezekiel 34 for a blistering word about that!)
  3. Prayer – A commentary I read nailed it: “The demise of the prayer meeting equals the demise of the mission of the church because a church that fails to pray fails to believe.” AMEN!
  4. Gifts – 40% of our congregation doesn’t have any area in which they are using their gifts. I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of guy, but I can’t get past just under ½ of our people sitting on sidelines with atrophic gifts.
So my appeal on Sunday will be for each of us to ask ourselves what kind of role we have in making College Park Church a place that emanates what Jesus would do.

I’ll close with a great quote from Kevin De Young. He wrote a great article on how to reach the next generation. His words are not only true – they describe what we are trying to do at College Park:

Grap them with passion.
Win them with love.
Hold them with holiness.
Challenge them with truth.
Amaze them with God.

Oh yeah!

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