Biblical Ministry Models?

(photo originally uploaded to Flickr by Roadsidepictures)

I ran across this post from Michael Spencer (a.k.a. iMonk) at his blog a few months ago and filed it in Evernote. In his attempt to answer one of his readers notes concerning youth ministry, Michael began a series on his own views. This post was entitled, “What are your thoughts on a Biblical model for youth ministry?” I encourage you to hop on over to Michael’s blog and read the post. It’s got some great thoughts that can be translated to children’s ministry.

Michael’s post got me thinking… For quite a while, I’ve had an issue whenever someone has stated that they are following a “Biblical model” for _______________ (insert whatever you like here). It could be parenting or children’s ministry or family ministry or whatever. I always have a red flag go up because what most people really mean when they say they have a Biblical model for something is that they have a model based on their understanding of what they read in the Bible… and more subtly, they are saying the if you disagree with them, then you aren’t being “Biblical.”

OK, I’m probably being cynical. They say that can happen if you live in Canada for too long. But I do still have a problem when people claim that whatever model they are supporting is the Biblical model. Yes, there are Biblical principles that we need to follow in life, but I would challenge the idea that we can extrapolate some sort of Biblical blueprint that can be shoehorned into any and every cultural context. That simply is not possible.

Again, I’m not saying that Biblical principles aren’t universal. The Story of the Bible transcends time and culture. Methodology, though, does not. Yes, it’s easy to hear ppl throw out verses that sound great, interpret them through their own culture and biases, and package them nicely for you to simply pour into your ministry to have a Biblical ministry. It’s harder to read through Scripture ourselves, pray, study the context we are in, and yes take into account the wisdom and experiences of others and develop our own unique approaches to ministry that work within our individual cultures.

If we’re truly wanting to be Biblical, then we need to stop looking for those pre-packaged, “practical” answers and develop a philosophy and ethos of ministry that will truly meet people in our individual cultures and point them to Christ.


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3 thoughts on “Biblical Ministry Models?

  1. "Again, I’m not saying that Biblical principles aren’t universal. The Story of the Bible transcends time and culture. Methodology, though, does not."

    I want to challenge your thinking on biblical methodology. First, a simple statement followed by a question: God has given us in His Bible, a timeless, culture transcendent gospel message through God the Son, His last and final revelation to humans. (Hebrews 1:1-3) [I hope the church can agree on this.] So why do we trust that God has given us the message to proclaim that is authoritative, complete and in all ways satisfactory and then let us grope in the dark for methodologies on how to communicate it, build churches around it, program ministries for it and export it to other cultures and time periods? My answer: He didn't. We not only have a perfect message but a perfect biblical method laid out in scripture as well. Most folks miss it because they think methods equal programs. The Jesus method is not programs like midweek youth group or AWANA on Sunday nights. No, His method was not programs but people. Robert Coleman in his brilliant, unsurpassed book, The Master Plan of Evangelism, lays this methodology out succinctly. Listen to his words: "In fact, at first glance it might even appear that Jesus had no plan. Another approach might discover some particular technique but miss the underlying pattern of it all. This is one of the marvels of His strategy. It is so unassuming and silent that it is unnoticed by the hurried churchman." "Nevertheless, when His plan is reflected upon, the basic philosophy is so different from that of the modern church that its implications are nothing less than revolutionary." pg. 19. Here it is: "His concern was not with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow." "Men were to be His method of winning the world to God." pg. 21.
    The book is just wonderful and I highly recommend it. Plus, a great tool to study Jesus' method on your own is a good Harmony of the gospels that puts all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John into chronological order so His methods can be seen easier.
    I hope this helps everyone who grapples with biblical methods to hang tight with the bible to squeeze them out with diligent study. Remember: people not programs.
    Mark

    • henryjz says:

      "people not programs"

      I would agree that if you were to try and pull out some sort of methodology from Jesus, it would be that he focused on people and realationship over "programs" or predominant religious thought and praxis. He dealt with each person where they were. We have to be careful, though, that we don't look at how Jesus dealt with one person or one group of people and assume that is normative for all people, which is the point I was trying to make. People are different based on the time and culture they are in, so how God specifically deals with people is different for each time and culture. Again, this doesn't mean that Biblical truths change, only the way in which those truths are communicated.

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