Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ministry Privilege

At this point in the progression of ministry its important to take stock in the incredible privileges I've been granted for service. Among the greater of these blessings has been Gateway Fellowship, and the staff into which I've been welcomed. The closing of Woodcreek Bible Church was necessary, but the discomfort of it might have been much more severe had there not been available new peers into which to transition. In addition, since serving at Gateway it has been very comforting to have my chaplaincy ministry sanctioned by a local body that understands "external ministry." The pastor, elders and staff have demonstrated a pursuit of the "incarnational missiology" that was discussed so often in seminary classes. It's refreshing to watch this take place because its rarity has contributed to the decline of Christianity in North America. Somewhere along the line many churches lost there missological focus, believing that mere short-term missions could constitute the totality of a church's obedience to the Great Comission. Dr. Mark Young (former professor of world missions at DTS, now leaving to be president of Denver Seminary) was correct in asserting that for evangelical churches to faithfully pursue the Great Commission in North America, they would have to develop an ecclesiology organized around the missio Dei. It's a great pleasure to serve in a church that is doing exactly that.

One of the tremendous privileges though in present service is the opportunity to teach the elementary grades using The Bright Knight story for the cirriculum. There was no expectation that I would be given such an opportunity, but nonetheless Trent extended sufficient trust to allow this ministry to the kids. As a result, we have had a wonderful time in the Sunday school for the elementary grades. The story, the crafts, the dancing and the music have all worked as well as we had hoped. The resulting effect has been that the kids can practically recite the story back to me when we review, and they also understand the parallels to the Christian life that we are allegorizing. We only have five sessions left of the story, with the last two being told on the same day (May 31st). In this way it has been an incredible privilege to make a contribution to a church that is pursuing the missio Dei with iron resolve. Finding another that is performing this task, in this area, would be very difficult indeed. Why would you try?

Another way that I am blessed by Gateway is the manner that they "send me out," not only eventually into the Navy as a chaplain, but also everyday into the community as a chaplain too. In essence, they already are my "sending church" because of the chaplaincy duties I perform for Fate Fire Rescue and the City of Fate. This also is a way that Gateway pursues the missio Dei, by sending ministers out into the community to make an impact with "external ministry." This does not happen for me alone. The other satff members are also involved in "external ministry" at the local Middle School and High School. This is missiological ecclesiology in action, and its a great privilege to be a team member in this pursuit.

Many of my Anglican friends have asked me to delineate reasons why I resist their overtures to recruit me into their ranks, though I agree with them on many points. Although I find the liturgical connection to the historic church attractive, I cannot deny that the makeup of the Christian landscape appears presently to offer too choices: (1) liturgical connection to history, or (2) missiological connection to the culture. I wish the choices were not limited to these; but if I must choose between these two, then the greater weight must go to the latter. With that understanding, I can assert that Gateway Fellowship faithfully pursues the latter choice rather well. Therefore, it is a privilege to serve in a church that is keeping the weightier things the main thing.

1 comment:

Monk321 said...

I should amend my above comments to include how much I respect my Anglican peers, and how beneficial I consider their insights to Christian spirituality. To suggest that Gateway has rightly focused on the "weightier things" is not to devalue liturgy, sacraments or ties to the historic church. But if the choice is between preservation and innovation, I have to tip the scales toward Christ's continuing "incarnation" through the relevance of his church, even if the scales are tipping ever so slightly.

Christ may perfectly balance being God and man, but we mortals have difficulty balancing reverence induced by knowing God, and relevance in making him known. The choice, itself, is out of balance and unfortunate. But so long as a choice must be made, I believe the movement of God throughout history weighs more heavily on the side of "cultural incarnation" rather than "sacramental incarnation."