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Management in the modern church ministry is a challenging engagement with many ministers adopting various ways and models to manage the ministry effectively. This involves sometimes trial and error whereby ministers try one model after another all without much success. The inference from this is that the leaders of today’s church are stuck in some sort of miry clay from which they need help to come out of and carry out the work that God has assigned to them.
In response to this desperate situation, the author of this particular work focuses on viewpoints, this time not of a certain model of management but on the other hand, he focuses on the core issue, which is who we are as ministers and what we are here for. He exemplifies the reason for any ministry and the issues that leaders must consider in their ministry i.e. God’s mission.
Definition of Ministry
One of the most sensitive areas where the author of this work addresses is the question about the ministry. The way a minister defines ministry ultimately affects the ministerial process and approach. First among his proposals is the fact that ministers have to accept that the term mission is biblical. By understanding and appreciating this fact, they will be able to comprehend what God’s mission is and therefore, it is a prerequisite to understanding the reason and approach to ministry. In this book, he offers evidence of what the misunderstanding of mission has led to in today’s missionary literature. In his terms, he refers to the condition as a one-eyed mission.
One of the causes of this partial blindness that the author is quick to point out is the biased attention many authors give to the two testaments. He focuses on some revolution writings about the topic which attend more to the new testament while ignoring the old testament namely; Salvation to the Ends of the Earth, Bible and Mission and New Testament Models of Mission. The biased attention to the New Testament by these authors as the most important reference for missionary work is to blame for this partial blindness.
Even though most of these writings offer a valuable contribution to our understanding of mission, they all also offer one sighted perspective by their emphasis on either testament of the bible. This ultimately leads to a one-sighted target. The author proposes that the leaders examine the mission motivation for the church’s ministry in the Old Testament before the church begins to understand the mission Jesus sends us for in the world. This will afford the church a full sight of the mission of Christ.
Another important issue that this writer address is the issue of modeling. In the quest for efficient management and oversight, many ministers end up in bookshops and internet libraries in trying to obtain a suitable model for governance. The author in response to this addresses the problem whereby ministers look for models in the wrong places. The author asks a very critical question; why have they not looked for a suitable model in the scriptures?. In this part, the writer proposes a scriptural model, which in his own words is a workable, viable, and practical way to design and implement a church education ministry that promotes whole-person transformation into the fullness of Christ and glorifies God by aligning our ministry with the Mission of God.
Strengths and weaknesses
One of the most outstanding strengths of this piece of work is the knowledge of the author. In this work, the author presents himself as one with a solid understanding of the biblical concept and his presentations of facts are outstanding. The strong reference to the bible, which is the most authentic literature in this matter, gives him unopposed credibility. Furthermore, the inclusion of other people’s literature as a reference gives the author’s work authenticity and influence. The author has included many details in this work, an implication of his deep knowledge about the topic, which is a credit to the work.
Another strength that this piece of work enjoys is the approach the writer adopts. This particular piece of work, besides contributing to existing literature, is oriented to solving particular problems that no other piece of work has addressed before. This makes this literature one of a kind and thus it stands out as unique, original and useful in the process of problem-solving. In addition to these, this piece of work, unlike many pieces of literature not only highlights a problem but also gives a systematic way of approaching the problem from a viable and practical way. In this sense, this piece of work avoids the pitfalls of many critiques, which point out weaknesses without offering a substitute for those weaknesses.
In this work, it is obvious that the writer was keen not to make mistakes others had made. The only mistake, which in this context is not a mistake, is the strong orientation towards the biblical view. Given that, the audience is Christians and more so leaders, the context of the writing allowed for this orientation. If the target audience were outside the Christian belief, the credibility of the work would not stand to the audience who are not Christian. The assumption that all the readers are born again Christians would also really challenge the credibility if part of the audience were not born again. In conclusion, it is important to note that this piece of work has no serious weaknesses that are evident because of negligence.
The issue of modeling in ministry is another important aspect of this discussion. Concerning this issue, the writer has this to say, “The problem with these very typical church education professionals is that they were looking for a model in all the wrong places. The question that I posed to them is the one I will pose to you, the reader, Why haven’t you considered looking in the scriptures for a viable model of church education?” In this statement, the reader proposes an idea that probably has not entered the minds of many and thus, this is an important statement for a beginning. It sends the reader into thinking.
In respect to the church’s orientation in mission, the writer says, “In the past, church educators have focused almost exclusively on the internal trajectory (nurture, instruction, and education) as their primary domain of responsibility” This statement highlights a discrepancy in the approach in the mission of God and therefore is worth noting in this piece of literature.
One of the most outstanding quotations that I would mention in my work is this “The scriptures teach us that a gentile (even a female prostitute) living among the nations of the earth was welcomed into Israel and based on her faith in Yahweh was made righteous.” This quotation exemplifies the scope of the mission of God even to the gentiles in the Old Testament. It is a confirmation that the mission of God is not only a New Testament thing but also it still was the Old Testament plan.
On page six of the second chapter, the writer emphasizes the need for ministers to engage in the mission of God as a prerequisite to other things. To affirm this he writes, “If the character of the Bible is missional, then it is incumbent upon those who read, study, interpret, teach, and preach the Bible to do so with a missional hermeneutic or method of interpretation.”
Lastly yet importantly is the starting quotation that the writer gives in chapter three. He writes, “The motivation for the Mission of God is the pulsating heart of the first missionary in the Bible: God.” This statement is very important for the missioner since it helps then understand that God’s mission is not a man-oriented thing but on the contrary, God-oriented. This will help the reader appreciate more the biblical approach to God’s mission, which is the only key to success.
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In conclusion, the work of the Christian is carrying out God’s mission. This means that the understanding of this mission is very critical to the life of the Christian and therefore, it is of great importance that this understanding is founded on a biblical concept. This book has focused on the biblical concept of God’s mission and thus, it provides an excellent way out of the current confusion about the subject and therefore it is worth following.
Lowe, Stephen. You are my witnesses: A Mission-Based Model of Christian Education. Columbia: Baker Book House, 2005.