Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Philosophy Of Ministry: Intro

I've been meaning to get back into blogging this year now that I'm a full-time theological student again. Starting today I'm going to post weekly insights and reflections from my classes, ministry, or life in general.

For one of my classes this semester I was assigned to develop and articulate my philosophy of ministry, which is a theological and philosophical framework that I would use to focus and guide my ministry. This project has been immensely helpful for me to order everything that I've learned over the last two and a half years. In a sense, I am drawing a line in the sand and declaring, "Here is where I am right now with all things in life. This is what I declare to be what my life and my work is about. So I think this would be a good place to restart my blog.

My philosophy of ministry is ordered into two parts. In the first part, I establish my raison d'etre by explaining the "who, what, why, and how" of my life and my ministry. Since God is at the center of all of life and from him and through him and to him are all things (Rom 11.36), all of these foremost principles relate back to him:

Who: God's Servant
I am a servant of God, created to rule over the earth and cultivate it (Gen 1.28). I am also a new creation in Jesus Christ, redeemed in him to do good works (Eph 2.10). From the onset, my identity is established and determined by God. Thus the meaning of my existence is to live as he created me to live.

What: God's Mission
The grand narrative of the world, humankind, and all of life in general is God's redemptive plan; his mission to redeem and restore a world that is broken by sin. The what of my life; my purpose on earth is to participate in God's own work.

Why: God's Glory
The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Even as we participate in God's cosmic redemptive work, our ultimate motivation is the everlasting joy that comes from treasuring Christ and making much of him.

How: God's Character
One of the most crucial lessons that I've learned these last few years is the importance of my own spiritual walk. I am called to lead people firstly by living a life that of repentance and daily renewal in the gospel. "God desires leaders after his own heart".

In the second part, I identify and elaborate on four key ministry values; lessons and insights that I have acquired and incorporated into my ministry and that I consider essential:

The Primacy Of Gospel Proclamation
The chief work of ministry is to proclaim the gospel to all people so that they may repent and be saved in Jesus Christ (Col 1.28). For Christian ministry to be valid, the gospel must be central and it must be a proclaimed message.

Evangelism And Community
Though the proclamation of the gospel is supreme, Christians are called to let their life and conduct testify about Christ. Though we are citizens of another kingdom, we are presently called to be stellar citizens of earth, that God may be praised by how we live (Mt 5.16, 1 Pet 2.12). Jeremiah 29 and Christopher Wright's exposition in his book The Mission Of God's People has been formational to me.

Gospel-Empowered Transformation
We are not only justified by Christ, we are also sanctified by Christ. The gospel is the power that doesn't just save us but also makes us holy. What's been key to helping me see the implications for ministry is Tim Keller and Edmund Clowney's Dmin class, "Preaching Christ In A Post-Modern World", available on iTunes University for free.

Evangelism And Discipleship
The call to make disciples of Jesus is a call that's not just horizontal, but also vertical in dimension. It is the task of ministers to identify, train, and equip the next generation of gospel workers and to entrust them with the message of Christ. It almost goes without saying that this ministry value runs deeply into the core of the GracePoint mission, given that they'd even identify a young, fresh-faced New Yorker and fly him all the way out to Sydney to train him up to serve Christ.

Over the next two months or so, I'll write a separate post for each of the eight topics. It's been an immensely enjoyable project to articulate my philosophy of ministry and clarify for myself where I currently stand. And in the process of doing so, I've come to realize how truly amazing God is, that I can learn all of these things and be so equipped to do his work, for his glory and for my joy. Thank you, God, for your sovereignty and guidance in every step of the way in my life.

-Dan

Important Books
Christ-Centered Preaching - Bryan Chapell
Desiring God - John Piper
Instruments In The Redeemer's Hands - Paul David Tripp
The Mission Of God - Christopher Wright
The Trellis And The Vine - Colin Marshall And Tony Payne
Total Church - Steve Timmis + Tim Chester