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A Biblical Theology for Ministry. Dr. Byron D. Klaus Day Four.

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A biblical theology for ministry

A Biblical Theology for Ministry

Dr. Byron D. Klaus

Day Four


A biblical theology for ministry

Can the church tolerate the separation of the theoretical task from the concrete situation of its own existence? Will theologians be permitted to do their work in cool absentia while pastors sweat out their own existence in the steamy space of the Church in the world? When theological thinking is practiced in abstraction from the Church in ministry, it inevitably becomes as much unapplied and irrelevant as pure.

Ray Anderson Theological Foundations for Ministry


A biblical theology for ministry

When the theological mind of the minister is educated primarily through experience, an adhoc theology emerges which owes as much (or more) to methodological and pragmatic concerns as to dogma. The task to work out a theology for ministry begins properly with the task of identifying the nature of and place of ministry itself.”

Ray Anderson Theological Foundations for Ministry


A biblical theology for ministry

The Achilles Heel of Pentecostals

Pragmatism

  • Leviticus 10:1 – “Strange fire”

  • “Aaron’s sons Nadab & Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command.”

  • A divine task attempted with reliance on human design alone.


A biblical theology for ministry

  • “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).

    • Might – human resources

    • Power – human resoluteness

    • Spirit – divine initiative and power for God’s eternal purposes

  • The temptation to offer our resources to the service of God believing that they are an adequate substitute for God’s eternal resource.


A biblical theology for ministry

“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of the Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!”

Matthew 7:21-23


A biblical theology for ministry

  • Success is rejected by the Lord as having no kingdom legitimacy.

  • Human efforts don’t even get a pat on the back.

  • We can actually think our usage of strange fire/might-power/sign ministry carries with it God’s seal of approval. Success is viewed as self-authenticating.


So what
So What? legitimacy.

  • How do we counteract bifurcation?

  • How do we resist pragmatism?

  • How do we challenge our culture’s immunity to the Gospel?


Biblical clues
Biblical Clues legitimacy.

  • God is at work! (John 5:17)

  • God continues to empower His redemptive mission. (Acts 1:6-8)

  • Pentecost is the guarantee that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus who continues His ministry empowered by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:22-24)

  • Our ministry is the continuing ministry of Christ working through us by the presence and power of the Spirit of Christ. (II Cor.5:20)


A biblical theology for ministry


Discernment cont
Discernment expectation for our 21(cont.)

  • Discernment assumes the present tense of Jesus’ redemptive ministry.

  • Discernment assumes that Christ’s Kingdom rule extends over all human structures and efforts.

  • Discernment strives to “see” the presence of Jesus in all ministry actions & structures. (Not as an act of piety, but as a biblical necessity.)


Discerning true ministry requires
Discerning True Ministry Requires… expectation for our 21

  • A connectedness to the life of Jesus (John 15)

  • An affirmation that holiness and ethics are never mutually exclusive (II Cor. 5:20)


Discerning true ministry requires1
Discerning True Ministry Requires… expectation for our 21

  • A willingness to exegete ministry contexts with the same rigor we exegete biblical texts (Mt. 7:21-23)

  • A commitment to evaluating ministry methodology by whether or not it facilitates Jesus’ continuing redemptive ministry.


Key considerations
Key Considerations expectation for our 21

  • Ministry action as “poiesis”.

  • An action that produces a result.

  • The end product of the action completes the act regardless of what the future of the product may be i.e. a ministry action can be viewed as effective simply because it added more people or people were supportive (fiscally) or people were “blessed,” or it most effectively facilitated a program’s success.


Key considerations cont
Key Considerations expectation for our 21(cont.)

  • Ministry action as praxis-telos (discernment of ultimate purpose.)

  • A ministry action that includes the ultimate purpose of that action as part of the action. i.e. no ministry action, program or ministry structure is incidental. It either reveals the redemptive purpose of Jesus or it has no contribution to make to God eternal concerns (Mt. 7:21-23).


Challenges facing ministry effectiveness
Challenges Facing Ministry Effectiveness expectation for our 21

  • Pragmatism is the result of a willingness to be tempted like Nadab & Abihu to substitute our “stuff” for God’s design.

  • Pragmatism in ministry is a function of a culture where consumerism is accepted as normal and choice is a divine right.

  • Dissonance between a missional heritage and a plateauing present reality.


Crucial questions
Crucial Questions expectation for our 21

  • Will theologians be permitted to do their work in cool absentia while pastors sweat out their existence in the steamy space of the Church in the world?

  • Does theological training end where practice begins?


Dangers
Dangers expectation for our 21

  • When theological thinking is practiced in abstraction from the Church in ministry, it inevitably becomes as much unsupplied and irrelevant as pure

  • When the theological mind of the minister is being educated primarily through experience, and ad hoc theology emerges which owes as much (or more) to methodological and pragmatic concerns as to dogma.


Theology for ministry
Theology for Ministry expectation for our 21

  • The task of working out a theology for ministry begins properly with the task of identifying the nature and place of ministry itself taking the Bible authoritatively and the context seriously.


Nature of ministry
Nature of Ministry expectation for our 21

  • Ministry precedes and produces theology, not the reverse.

  • All ministry is God’s ministry

    • Every act of revelation is a ministry of reconciliation


Nature of ministry cont
Nature of Ministry expectation for our 21(cont.)

  • The act of God is the hermeneutical horizon for the being of God.

  • The Incarnation signals that every ministry activity has theological objectivity in and of itself


Assumptions in theological reflection
Assumptions in expectation for our 21Theological Reflection

  • Making sense of this mess? How?

  • God’s Word is authoritative

    • It reveals God’s character and His mission

  • The context must be taken seriously

    • It is legitimate because it is the place that God revealed Himself most clearly in Jesus Christ

  • That revelation has eternal intent--reconciliation


Assumptions in theological reflection cont
Assumptions in expectation for our 21Theological Reflection (cont.)

  • Ministry must be an act of God to be legitimate

    • All ministry is God's ministry

    • It cannot be taken on a life/purpose of its own

  • The mission of God comes most clear in Jesus Christ and its continuation is guaranteed by Pentecost


Assumptions in theological reflection cont1
Assumptions in expectation for our 21Theological Reflection (cont.)

  • The ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ exemplifies God’s purposes

    • That ministry (it’s purpose, power/pattern/character) is the standard we are co-missioned to participate in


A biblical theology for ministry

What is God doing? expectation for our 21

DISCERN

John 5:17; Acts 1:8; 2:4

  • The process of affirming the Christ of Scriptures at work in our local contexts

  • Agent of Transformation

    What is the source of my power?

What has God done?

VISION

II Cor. 5:17-20

  • Capacity to acknowledge the significance of Christ in the world

  • To make sense of life

    What is my purpose?


Theology for ministry1
Theology for Ministry expectation for our 21

  • Takes Scriptures authoritatively

  • Views the context seriously

  • Affirms that God is at work in ministry contexts

  • Acknowledges that orthodox doctrinal conceptualizations do not guarantee ministry effectiveness or orthodoxy

  • That ministry has theological objectivity in and of itself


Theology for ministry cont
Theology for Ministry expectation for our 21(cont.)

  • John 1:12

    • Revealer of God and His mission

    • Jesus legitimates the context with His presence

    • It is worthwhile; it counts.