21st Century Ministry and 2 Corinthians (Part 7)

I am reading 2 Corinthians and thinking about ministry.

She was teaching her high school class one day. The class brought up a particular subject. She asked them how they would go about finding information regarding that subject. She expected they would all say that they would Google the subject and see what came up. No, that wasn’t the answer she got. She said that many of them told her that they would ask, “ChaCha.” I then asked her, “What is chacha?” She said, “Those were my exact words to them.” ChaCha is a way that you can send a text message and then get an answer in just a few seconds.

Here are some of the most popular questions on ChaCha:

*What are some of the top business schools in the country?

*Where can I find a laptop for under $300?

*Where can you watch free movies online?

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*How do you make salsa?

It is amazing what you can learn just by texting.

The future is going to be amazing. Just think of the technological advancements over the last fifty years. Who knows what our future holds?

Yet, what is even more remarkable than any technological or cultural advancement, is the story of what God has done in the past, in the present, and in the future. As we complete this

first decade in the 21st century, it is very important that we pay attention to the work of God as the story of his love, grace, and kingdom unfolds. Far too often, we focus our

ministries on what we are doing or what we need to do. If we are not careful, our ministries can be totally focused on our strategies, our tactics, and our goals, to the neglect of God’s work in our ministries. Note that I am not suggesting that we should not plan, have specific goals or develop strategies in our congregations. Yet, if we neglect to pay attention to the great work of God in history through his church and through the congregation we make a great mistake. We may begin to think that we bear the complete responsibility for the results of our ministries.

Think for a moment about God’s work and the impact of his work on our ministries:   

We have hope because God controls the calendar, not fate. (4:16) Yes, our bodies are “wasting away,” but the greater reality is that there is ongoing renewal into the image of Christ. In other words, because of what God has in store for us, the present is not something that we have to lose heart over. Now he is not trying to minimize the trials that you or anyone else might experience. Rather, he wants to put all of our difficulties (including his own) into God-centered perspective. No matter what, in Christ, we have hope!

We have confidence because of what God has done and what he will do. God raised Jesus from the dead (4:14). He doesn’t lose heart in the midst of physical decay (4:16). There is an eternal dwelling, a home, for us beyond this existence (5:1). God is active and has built us a home. The future dependant on the one who has been at work.

We look to the future with joy because the Holy Spirit who lives within us is God’s down payment of what is to come. (5:5)

We will one day have new bodies in the age to come. (5:1-5) We will not be disembodied spirits or souls floating through the air. What we have to look forward to is better than our present situation.

Question:

Why is it important to stay focused on God’s actions in the church and our congregations?


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4 thoughts on “21st Century Ministry and 2 Corinthians (Part 7)

  1. In think you captured it all when you said, “As we complete this first decade in the 21st century, it is very important that we pay attention to the work of God as the story of HIS love, grace, and kingdom unfolds. Far too often, we focus our ministries on what we are doing or what we need to do. If we are not careful, our ministries can be totally focused on our strategies, our tactics, and our goals, to the neglect of God’s work in our ministries.” Totally agree! One of my favorite phrases, a stanza in a poem I wrote, is “God IS working everywhere; we just need to join Him there.” Often I’ve heard prayers that ask the Lord to do this, or that, or the other, when He already has been, is and will be at work and we just haven’t been observing His actions everywhere, haven’t recognized the work as His, and perhaps even think He has forgotten to work on…… you fill in the blank. Father, please give me a heart of gratitude for all you are doing everywhere!

  2. Thank you Karin. I have found this to be so important. One, because I believe this is the way Paul did ministry. He was attentive to God as the primer mover and initiator in ministry. He is unfolding HIS story. Second, not paying attention to God and his work in our ministries put far too much responsibility on us for what happens in our congregations.

  3. When our focus shifts away from the work of God we have the uncanny ability to act as if we work and serve people in this life instead of realizing that we work and serve God. In doing that do we act as His agent in relationship with people? Sure! But when our real mission gets out of focus we find ourselves working out of our skill set which easily leads to exhaustion and burnout instead of working out of the over flow of a life that is intimately connected to God.

  4. It is all too easy to get side-tracked by little details of life that aren’t exactly as we wish they were, and that we have little or no control over. Whether it’s something going on in the world, or in our own lives, or maybe in the lives of our children, we can get very distracted and forget where we are to find our joy. When we focus on God’s action, then everything else falls into place. Perhaps that is the most important reason for coming to the Table every Sunday. A book I’m currently reading (Simply Christian, by NT Wright) suggests that the Table is a place where earth and heaven meet. He says it’s like sitting down to dinner with Jesus, and your great-great-grandparents along with your great-great grandchildren also show up. Past, present and future. Not to mention friends and family scattered across the world. And we’re all there together because of Him – what He did and continues to do in our lives. That’s where we find our peace and our joy, and what gives our lives meaning.