The Crucifixion of Ministry

I'm reading "The Crucifixion of Ministry" by Andrew Purves (trinitarian theologian at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; pictured at left). He urges us to reframe our view of ministry in light of the gospel of our inclusion in Christ.

Rather than seeing ministry as "our ministry" we need to view it for what it truly is: a "sharing in the continuing ministry of Jesus Christ" (p. 11). This ministry is the work of the Father, in the Spirit, through Jesus for the sake of the church and all the world.  

This view of ministry as participation in the ongoing ministry of Jesus flows from "the classical Christian doctrines of our participation through union with Christ in his vicarious humanity and ministry.... Because ministry is what Jesus does, ministry is properly understood as gospel rather than law and as grace rather then obligation.... The first and central question in thinking about ministry [in this way] is Who is Jesus Christ and what is he up to? The answer leads to the second question: How do we get in on Jesus' ministry?" (pp. 12-13).

It is Jesus, in the Spirit, through whom the Father ministers. We must crucify any idea that this ministry "belongs" to us, or somehow "depends" on us. Rather, we rejoice that Jesus includes us in what he is doing, and we receive and faithfully steward the gifts and opportunities he provides for us, through his Spirit, for our active sharing in his ministry on earth.


Anonymous said…
Hi there!

This is a very important concept. All too often Christians default to the, “What would Jesus do?” position. What this position does is make Christians subject to a law and rule approach to ministry. It also makes Jesus perceived as being far off in time and space, and it, usually quite unintentionally, seeks to bind Jesus to our laws,rules, and ways of doing things.

But I feel that a much better concept is, “What is Jesus doing right now in my life?” This allows the present Jesus to be freely active in each of our lives, and this activity is completely apart from laws and rules.

With this latter approach, I feel that we can much better see Paul’s words in action:

Gal 2:20--I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)

The best to you always!

J. Richard Parker
Jerome Ellard said…
Thanks, Ted, for pointing us to the life-giving truth that ministry is Jesus' ministry. Let me "earth" what you said, in my own experience. Our church has a Wednesday night meal/Bible study. We had one last night. We never know exactly who is going to be there and whether there will be an element of chaos present or not. Last night was a case in point. We had a group of kids come that aren't your typical "church kids." They didn't sit still and listen very well, they acted up in their class, they made noise during praise and worship. But they were there. We try to deal with these kinds of situations in a firm and loving way, but sometimes it feels pretty frustrating, and sometimes things work out very poorly. That is where an understanding that "our" ministry is really Christ's ministry...WHEW! That just gives me such peace to know that it is in His very capable hands! In that way I can know that where I see human failure, I can also know that Christ is at work and nothing is impossible for Him! This is an example of peace that passes understanding.
Ted Johnston said…
Thanks for the feedback Richard and Jerome. What a blessing it is to share together in Jesus' ministry!