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Ka'anapali, 4 May 2016

Aloha! On Saturday my wife and I proudly watched our last child graduate from college. Lily received her B.A. in Art History from Pepperdine (Malibu, California). She and six of her dear sisters in Christ finished together. Lily's aunt is a school principal in the U.K., and so Lily will spend the summer teaching in Britain, before returning to L.A. to seek gainful employment.

The day after graduation we joined a wonderful house church (at Keith & Marianne Rose's home) in Santa Monica -- nearly 50 men, women, and children present. I spoke from Luke, and we both expressed our gratitude to the church (L.A. West Region), as Pepperdine parents, for looking after all our kids these last four years.

Why does it matter?

Today we conclude the Ministry series. In Ministry 2 - What? we discovered that ministry is service through gifts. Since everyone's in the ministry (Ministry 1 - Who?), every member of the body of Christ has something to offer.

Now before I go on, I want you to know I'm not trying to awkwardly imply that everyone is a leader (although we all have influence), or to suggest that leadership structures should be disassembled! There are many scriptures on leadership, and surely we need more, not fewer, men and women willing to lead. Nor do I wish to quibble about words. I recognize that "ministry" is often shorthand for "the ministry of the word" (as in Acts 6:4). I myself was in the ministry (in this sense) for 20 years, and although since 2003 I've been a freelance teacher, I've never stopped being in the ministry since I became a Christian. I don't think it's wrong to use the term when referring to church staff workers. What is wrong is to use this term exclusively of those on staff, referring to others as "non-ministry" people. Why does it matter?
  • Doers and spectators is not a biblical model of discipleship! There's only one tier -- not two!
  • The clergy / laity division has been a perennial problem afflicting church culture since at least the 3rd century. It is directly related to declining standards of commitment.
  • It's inherently elitist. (Either you are "ministry material" or not.)
  • "Ministry" lingo discourages others who want to be used, but may never be in the fortunate position of making their living from the gospel.
Leaders who call themselves ministers yet do not view others as being in the ministry are often frustrated that the church has become a body of spectators. But is it any wonder, when they've created / condoned a two-tier discipleship model?

We enter the ministry when we become Christians. If we have left the ministry, then we are not truly following Christ! Let's get everyone on board. There's far too much work to do to leave it to a handful of professionals. 

  • Who is in the ministry? Every Christian, whether on church staff or not.
  • What is ministry? Serving others through using our gifts.
  • Why is the language important? Inaccurate terminology reinforces wrong theology, which compromises the spiritual health of the church and of the individual Christian.

By the numbers

What's up with the beastly 666? Did Jesus fast forty days exactly? Did Methuselah really live 969 years? What about the catch of fish in John 21 -- is there any significance to 153? 

In short, which numbers are symbolic, which are literal, and how can we know the difference? How well do you understand biblical numbers -- like 7, 12, 40...? Next week you'll be able to take a QUIZ, and find out, as we launch a fresh series, in eight parts, Numbers in the Bible.

From Kahului to Atlanta to Ephesus

This Sunday I've been asked to preach in Maui. After we return to Atlanta from Kahului, I'll devote some time to writing. Then later in the month it's off to Ephesus for a Biblical Archaeology tour. We'll explore numerous biblical sites, including a number I've never seen. Exciting stuff! This is my "continuing education" for 2016 -- would that education were always so interesting!   

Thanks so much for all you do to make this ministry work. Or as they say in these islands, Mahalo, thank you. -- DJ
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