To continue Jesus ministry requires that we adopt his methods. Unfortunately, Christians in the West would rather implement programs. We are blind to our mechanistic assumptions when we reduce ministry to reproducible components and try to apply them indiscriminately. There is nothing wrong, for instance, with a tool for witnessing like the Four Spiritual Laws. It helps believers communicate biblical truth, but should we use it every time? No. We must ask what is appropriate in each situation and learn the art of listening, even as Jesus modeled (Jn. 5:19; 30). An early slogan we liked was, “What is the Father doing?” We tried to enter each ministry situation with that question foremost in our minds. Our experiences in spiritual gifts were an attempt to discern what the Father was up to. Whether the situation was evangelism, healing, budgeting for the poor, or sending a couple across country to plant a church, the important thing was to ask the Father what he was doing. John Wimber
Our Theme: ON MISSION.
Let’s be honest. Most human beings prefer it when everything we do in life is relatively safe and predictable. Oh sure, all of us like a bit of excitement in our lives, but even those daredevils amongst us who enjoy living on the cutting edge of life still do their very best to reduce risk, keeping things under their control, whenever and wherever possible. So it is with us church leaders and our approach to doing ministry and mission in the name of Jesus.
Now, please. Don’t get me wrong. As I see it, there’s nothing overtly wrong when those of us in church leadership lay out our prayerfully constructed ministry or mission plans and then systematically work those plans. God did give us our brains and our ability to reason.
But here’s the rub.
As Wimber points out in the quote above, it’s so easy for us to go astray in Christian mission when we church leaders choose to take things into our own hands, re-making the New Testament goal of following Jesus into a systematic program to be followed rather than a living-and-breathing relationship that needs nurturing. In truth, what Jesus models for us in the gospels is a life-style in ministry that, quite honestly, is frightening to most of us who relish keeping our lives orderly and under our own control. Following Jesus, you see, as demonstrated by those living in the first century, didn’t mean grabbing life by the horns and getting things done, come hell or high water. Nor did it mean that you and I, as leaders, are called to get creative, using our vain imagination to develop mission plans, which have at their core, our insatiable drive to control things as we want them to go!
If you’ve been a reader of my blog in recent years, you’ll know that God has spoken very clearly to me, reminding me of all the many years I spent so much time, energy, and resources, assembling nice and neat programming for my church. Programming that looked good on paper, but quite honestly, was birthed out of my own self-consumed interests and desires to do some impressive things in ministry so that my church would grow in numbers.
There, I said it.
I am thankful for the reminder that Jesus isn’t looking for men and women who will bring their own agendas into his ministry. As I see it, Jesus is not looking for dynamic leaders, but for humble folks who know full well their weaknesses and susceptibility toward controlling things. As Wimber so succinctly states here, Jesus is recruiting men and women who will honestly spend their days in ministry learning the fine art of finding out what the Father is doing and, then, in humility and obedience, going and doing it! And then, if there’s any time left over after doing that, we spend the remainder of that time encouraging others to do the same.
Father, I humbly confess that it’s so easy to begin ministry by saying that I’m looking for what you are doing, but, then, I go off on my own, allowing personal agendas to rule the way I act on that mission. In the process, Lord, I end up doing things in ministry that simply seem good to me instead of waiting and watching for your will to be done. Spirit, come direct me into the ways of Jesus, where he always preferred and deferred to the expressed will of the Father. For your name’s sake. Amen!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO PONDER
- Where am I following systematic programming ministry efforts rather than waiting upon the Father, asking him, as Jesus did, to show us his will and kingdom-directed interests?
- Am I taking the necessary time needed to develop the relational aspects of “following Jesus” or am I moving forward in mission and ministry, using my own self-directed, self-centered initiatives?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Wisdom of Wimber?
Between Easter 2016 and the end of August, we are sharing with you a blog series we call The Wisdom of Wimber: As I See It. In order to keep all 64 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Wisdom of Wimber page for ease of use. Might we also suggest that you order a copy or two of our book by the same title! It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats…and will soon be available in Spanish! Click here for more info. ENJOY!
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