Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pastoral ministry

I have been reading Pastoral Ministry According to Paul: A Biblical Vision, by James W. Thompson. James overviews Paul's major writings showing what Paul's pastoral vision was. I think I can summarize James by stating that he believes Paul's pastoral vision was the transformation of the people and community to be more loving and become blameless. James states that Paul believes that this is journey and is on going. Conversion is a beginning step not the end result.
I think this book is right on. But it raises some questions.
1) James says that Paul believes that a ministry is only successful if actually leads to the transformation of people. Is this how we rate our ministries? What are some of the other ways that we measure the success of a ministry?
2) Have we failed if no one is changed? I have often heard that we remain faithful to God and let him take care of the results. Is this an excuse? Or is this true?
3) How do we measure transformation? Paul battles legalism (making laws the mark of spirituality).

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Evangelical Manifesto

I just read an article called An Evangelical Manifesto.
This manifesto comes out of a need to define what it means to Evangelical. The authors note that the term evangelical means different things to different people. They even state that some wonder if "Evangelical is ever positive, and many inside now wonder whether the term any longer serves a useful purpose." The authors believe that the term Evangelical can be redeemed (not sure I agree but I sure applaud their efforts).
I found this document to very interesting. It talks about beliefs and about practices. Here are a couple of my highlights:

"Evangelicals are Christians who define themselves, their faith, and their lives according to the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth."

"our commitment can be seen better in our giving and our caring than in official statements."

Evangelicals fail when "they fail to follow the great commandment that we love our neighbors as ourselves, let alone the radical demand of Jesus that his followers forgive without limit and love even their enemies."

"We confess that we Evangelicals have betrayed our beliefs by our behavior. All too often we have trumpeted the gospel of Jesus, but we have replaced biblical truths with therapeutic techniques, worship with entertainment, discipleship with growth in human potential, church growth with business entrepreneurialism, concern for the church and for the local congregation with expressions of faith that are churchless and little better than a vapid spirituality, meeting real needs with pandering to felt needs, and mission principles with marketing precepts. In the process we have become known for commercial, diluted, and feel-good gospels of health, wealth, human potential, and religious happy talk, each of which is indistinguishable from the passing fashions of the surrounding world."

I could sign a document like this - agreeing with the good and confessing the bad.