Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Dynamics of Change

There are two ways I see ministry happening. Speaking from my own experience, and observing those around me.
1. Clinical Ministry. This is short and sharp. It wants instant results and often gets them. Bible-bash the error out of people. Burn the heretics. Keep things pure. It's confident and concerned for the truth.
2. Cosy Ministry. This is coffee drinking with people. This is tea and sympathy. It's friendly but you wont see a Bible anywhere because people need some loving.
When Paul commissions Timothy he calls him to 'unashamed work' which will entail 'handling the word' (2 Timothy 2v15). And, handling it rightly. It must be inky. That looks like 'clinical' ministry. But... Timothy is warned to beware of 'youthful passions', which looks like arrogance and quarrelling. The very things that are the marks of the clinical camp. The kind of approach that is most interested in seeing everything in black and white and delights to fight.

Timothy is to do a different kind of word ministry. His much be marked by patience and gentleness. It must be kind. It'll take time, on the surface it'll look ineffective and lacking in fruit. But it'll produce a fire that burns all night.

How will Timothy go for this kind of ministry?

1. By knowing he is the Lord's servant (presented before God, for the master's service). It's not his ministry, his people to work with. (v24)
2. By knowing that the Lord knows his people (v19). He demands responsibility and accountability from his people, but above all the people of God are God's people.
3. By knowing that the Lord gives repentance (v25). Change only happens when God gives the gift of repentance - which he does through the teaching of his word.
As a UCCF staffworker committed to student leadership it'd be tempting for me to hold the CU leaders hands and stand behind their every decision, watching to stop them ever making a mistake (as if I really know best in all situations!!). But, if I'm prepared to do inky-kind ministry then I can stand back, away from the decisions and just teach the Bible to people. I can let the word do everything. I can let the word change the hearts and shape the convictions of student leaders. From those convictions they can then make good decisions to advance effective mission on campus.

Paul seeks to shape Timothy's ministry but his higher concern is Timothy's heart. Does Timothy believe that God is sovereign and that God's word changes lives? The way Timothy handles the word of God and the people of God will reveal his belief in God. Behaviour always reveals belief.

When I've tried to micro-manage a CU I've not believed that God is sovereign.
When I've charged in all guns blazing I've not believed that God is sovereign.
When I've not opened the Word I've not believed that God is sovereign.
As I study this chapter I hear the word of God. And faith comes by hearing! I feel him working on my heart to change the way I resolve to word. Like that beer-drinking Bible-freak who led the reformation, I want to be able to say: I taught the word, apart from that I did nothing. The word did everything.


  1. Amen, amen and amen. I need reminded of this again and again.

  2. We had a church training day about the way forward with structures, and it was heartening that even there we saw in Ex 18 about how God in his grace provided 'common sense' advice through Jethro.