The Cross and Christian Ministry

By September 21, 2010 Central, gospel

The following is a great quote from evangelical scholar D.A. Carson’s book “The Cross and Christian Ministry”.  There is often a tendency to wrongly focus more on ministry methodology than the message of the gospel. 

For those of us in any form of Christian ministry, this lesson must constantly be re-appropriated.  Western evangelicalism tends to run through cycles of fads.  At the moment (he wrote this in 1993 but it still applies today!) books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how “vision” consists in clearly articulated “ministry goals,” how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach.  I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies.  But after a while oen may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages.  Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature.  But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel.  Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important that the Bible.  We depend on plans, programs, vision statements- but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning.  Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing.  Rather, I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight.  Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry. – D.A. Carson

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