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The Most Important Thing I Ever Learned In Ministry

I appreciate that that's a big claim (it's somewhat reduced and relativised by the fact that we're talking about 'me' - who really cares about what I've learned...), and I don't want to minimise all the other things I've had to learn (and continue to learn) but the reality is that they flow from this source. Re-reading Preaching The Whole Bible As Christian Scripture this week I've been able to see how things changed dramatically for me about 8 years ago when I first read it towards the end of my second year on UCCF's Relay programme... the way we read the Bible shapes everything else in the Christian life. Graeme Goldsworthy writes:
"The principle is simply this: Jesus says that the Old Testament is about Him. [The question is then]... How does this passage of Scripture, and consequently my sermon (etc), testify to Christ" (p20-21)
I'm not sure I've ever learned anything else more vital. Seeing this, which I'm sure I would have affirmed before then, was like the lights turning on, like the dots being joined together. Blurry texts come into sharp focus, connections between things become visible. My Bible became a coherent sixty-six part Christian document and not just a mess in twenty seven parts. The glories of the gospel become freshly unveiled and their riches begin to sparkle.

The implications of this lead to asking about the centrality of the gospel in each and every area of my life... something that I'll be grappling with on every today I'm given. That the gospel is central will surely forever be the most important thing I learn in life, everything else is unpacking and outworking and applying that - starting with my home - with my wife and the imminent (and overdue) arrival of our first child.

More on this at, in God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts, Mike Bullmore on The Functional Centrality of the Gospel in the Local Church.


  1. Important principle to be remembering - what a rich document indeed! I haven't read the whole book but did very much enjoy his stuff on the Psalms! Hope all things go well with the birth!

  2. I'd second you on this Bish. Reading Goldworthy during my Relay year changed my thinking, my worship, my teaching, my prayers. It laid the foundations for a heck of a lot of other things I've grown into over the years too.

  3. Yes. This was a key insight for me.

    What has been the most useful personal/pastoral insight?

    What has been the most useful philosophical insight?

    What has been the most useful cultural insight?

    What has been the insight that has led you to pray more (outside of the experience of suffering or other peoples suffering)?

    What has been the insight that has helped you love people more?

    What has been the insight that has helped you love God more?

  4. Bish is sounding quite fatherly isn't he?

  5. Good questions. I'll try them in small doses... but it'd be great to get other people's answers too.

    What has been the most useful personal/pastoral insight?

    Somewhere along line realising that the reality of my faith has more to do with whether I love people than whether they or I are "right".

    What has been the most useful philosophical insight?

    Learning from Ramsden, Sire, Pollard or some bloke called Price how important it is to actually make sense.


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