Monday 22 January 2018

Pastoral Repentance from "Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom"

Challenging existing structures and paradigms for how church is run, Rob Rienow in Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom:
For the first decade of my pastoral life, I had little to no understanding about the sufficiency of Scripture as it related to my leadership in the church. During those years, I was a youth pastor, and one of my favourite principles was, "I have an unchanging message in a constantly changing package." In other words, the message of the Gospel is unchanging, but my ministry methods will be constantly changing to meet the changing needs of youth culture. I was quite proud of how missiological this sounded! I felt I could and should do anything to evangelize and disciple the teens in my community.
But there was a terrible problem with this philosophy. When it comes to ministry in the local church, God is not silent on the method. The Bible doesn't say, "Here is the Gospel, get it to children however you want to," Instead, God's Word is filled with His ends and His means. He tells us what He wants and how He wants it done.
Remember that God has spoken to us on four levels in the Bible. I only saw the first two levels of "God's truth" and "God's will." I believed and embraced that the Bible taught God's love and heart for children (God's truth). I believed and embraced that in the Bible God expresses His will that children are to be evangelized and discipled (God's will). But, that was as far as I went. I completely missed His methods and His jurisdictions. I embraced God's ends, but not God's means. I did not understand that He had given the local church responsibility and authority to nurture, bless, and equip the Christian family for spiritual success.
In the Bible God not only tells us His heart to reach children for Christ, but he tells us how He wants it done. If you locked yourself in a room with the Bible and you asked the question, "God, how do you want young people to be evangelized and discipled?" what do you think the answer would be? What method has God given us to raise the next generation for the glory of God?
If you used the Bible and the Bible alone, the answer would be overhwelmingly clear. God created parents and grandparents to be the primary spiritual trainers of their children at home. God created parents and grandparents to shepherd and disciple their children. This is the divine strategy for next generation ministry.
Despite the fact God has spoken so clearly about this in the Bible, I created a youth ministry where parents could drop their kids off with me and the other "professionals" so we could teach them the Bible, equip them for ministry, pray with them, and keep them accountable.
In the same way I had to repent of my lack of following the Bible in my life at home, I had to repent in my professional life at church. When it came to ministry decisions, I was doing things my way, in my wisdom, with my innovation, and through my creativity. I had to repent of the fact I was leading an unbiblical ministry. This is not to say everything I was doing was sinful, but when it came to my youth ministry, I was not allowing the Bible to determine my methods.
I believe that ministering to children and youth is a "good work!" Therefore, I believe in the Bible God has given us everything we need to be successful. Not only is the Bible sufficient for youth ministry, but for every "good work of the church." When we believe this - it changes everything.
- Do you believe the Bible is sufficient for women's ministry in your church?
- Do you believe the Bible is sufficient to direct your church in how you care for the poor?
- Do you believe the Bible is all you need to develop a strategy to minister to singles?
- Do you believe the Bible is sufficient to teach us how we are to worship God?
The easy answer is, "yes!" But how often is the Bible open in your ministry planning sessions? Are your leadership decisions based on what you think will work best, what seems most creative, or what God has specifically said in His Word? Do you seek to make every ministry decision in light of the commands and patterns for the New Testament church? God has spoken clearly and directly about every necessary ministry in His church, but are we listening? More importantly, are we willing to be obedient to what He has said?
Other excerpts from the book:
Death in the Ditches
Overwhelmed, Burned-out, and Discouraged
The Great Commission and The First Commandment
God's Call To Fathers
Transforming Youth and Children's Ministry

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