Archive for the ‘Theology of ministry’ Category

A big day of meetings, so the next post in the discussion will wait til Monday. But meanwhile …

Is there a tension in fundamental  direction between a Knox/Robinson view of church (any time Christians are around the Word of God, there’s church) – which is our basic ecclesiology, and which tends towards church = word of God being taught; and a missional church, which is all about church = go get ’em?

More abstractly, what does our practice of mission tell us about our actual ecclesiology?

And what sort of ecclesiology is needed to sustain a missional church?


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From flickr by robertv!

From flickr by robertv!

This is a rant.

You know when your TV/computer/washing machine is on the blink, and you get some paid help and try to demonstrate the fault, but instead, the wretched thing works? It’s called an intermittent fault, and it always appears at the worst time!

There are some intermittent theological faults which have the same character. The one that annoys me most is the intermittent appeal to the sovereignty of God.

You know how it goes. You’re in the middle of a discussion, trying to make a point about how we might be able to do things better, and someone pipes up, “Oh, but it’s God who gives the growth”. Or an alternative version is, “Oh, but the most important thing is to pray”.

The problem is not with what’s said, but with what’s not said – because the unstated premise of this argument goes something like this: “and because it’s God who gives the growth, therefore we don’t need to make this change / pursue this initiative / try harder at this thing etc”. And that is a theological error of the worst kind.

It’s not true – it’s simply not the Biblical structure – precisely because of God’s work in us, so we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2.12-13); precisely because of God’s power, we toil and struggle to do the absolute best, smartest, most effective thing we can (Col 1.29). The Apostle never uses the truth of the first half to slip into the error of the second.

So, if you are prone to this intermittent error – watch out! I’m on the prowl against it. More importantly, it’s just not true. The sovereign work of God and our responsibility to work and strategise and plan and pray are not a zero sum game, and can’t be traded off against one another!

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The theme for this blog comes from 1 Cor 3.5-17, one of those purple passages on the church and ministry. Except that it brings together things I suspect we would rather keep apart!

The first thing that stands out is that Paul has and does his ministry of building by the grace of God. Gloriously familiar territory – although I need to keep making sure this lives for me, and that I don’t fall into the thought that the ministry (let alone the church) is “mine’. It’s His, and never stops being His!

But then he brings in all sorts of worrying concepts. On the Day of disclosure, if what has been built survives the fire, he and each and every other builder, will receive a reward! I can’t help feeling that Paul means for this to be a motive for doing the work well.

Which got me thinking – does the idea of reward (whatever that may refer to) really energise me? What might be good about that? And what might be dark about it? 


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