Friday, March 17, 2006

The Motive of Truly Relevant Ministry

Motive matters. Always. That's even true for our ministry methodology.

Yesterday, I mentioned how 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 supports many of the methods and ideals of "relevant" ministry. Here's the verse in its totality.
"For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."
Before discussing what it looks like to live alongside unbelievers in a redemptive way, I want to identify motive. Why does Paul "become all things to all people?"

There is a simple answer: "that by all means I might save some." The heart of relevant ministry is this: the gospel. The gospel is a message meant for all people, a message that can reach any person, a message that should be spread to the ends of the earth.

Isn't that why we all serve? Here's the challenge: our motives are always mixed. We never perfectly understand God's heart, want only God's glory, and live fully according to God's word. What begins in our hearts as a love for the gospel can easily, quietly, and deceptively be transformed into selfish goals.

So, here's my question... Really, why are you seeking "relevance?"
  • so that you can have a bigger church?
  • so that you can write that book you've always had in your mind?
  • so that you can offer a music style you prefer?
  • so that you can be seen by the world as cutting-edge?
  • so that you get invited to speak at the next big conference?
Or is it truly so that the gospel will be proclaimed to whomever comes through your doors?

Heart check moment -- Stop and answer this question: What are you thinking about most when you seek to be relevant? Is it God's glory? Or one of the things on that list above? Or something else completely? Let's all pray that God would help us kill all idolatry and then live redemptively alongside non-Christians for the glory of God!
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