Recently my friends and I sponsored an organic church planting conference called Bay Area Momentum 2012. I wanted to share here what I spoke about at Momentum.
I believe there are three patterns we are either aware of or should be aware of. The first pattern is one of the key reasons that much of the ministry we see nowadays is ineffective. The other two patterns lead to fruitful ministry.
Pattern #1: The Power Is In the Technique
Someone has a successful ministry. In fact it is impressive. Others would like to have the same results as the person who founded this impressive ministry. So, the person who founded the ministry develops a seminar series with notebook, a webpage, videos and workshops. If you too come and take the seminar you too can find the techniques that are bound to lead you to success. The pattern is: a.) someone has success, b.) copy their techniques and c.) you will have success too.
Here’s the problem. The power is not in the technique. Copying a technique often leads to a lifeless ministry and a lot of frustration. Which leads me to the second pattern, a pattern Jesus gave us himself and told us would lead to fruit.
Pattern #2: The Vine and the Branches
Jesus told us clearly and explicitly how to bear fruit and it has nothing to do with techniques. He made this abundantly apparent in John 15:1-17. The pattern Jesus develops goes like this: He is a vine and we are connected so closely with him it is like a grape branch is connected to a grape vine. To describe this tight, intimate connection Jesus used the word “abide.” This word has two interconnected meanings in Greek. It means to live in. It also means to remain; which is why it is sometimes translated “abide” and in other versions as “remain.” This connection is so intimate that it is described as Jesus living in us while we live in Him. It boils down to this pattern a.) Seek a spiritual state where the life of Jesus is so enmeshed with ours we don’t know where He leaves off and we begin. b.) Stay there. c.) You will bear fruit (Jn 15:5), more fruit (15:2), much fruit (15:8), fruit that remains (15:16).
Pattern #3: Ministry Jesus Style
This is not to say that Jesus failed to teach us how to do ministry. Quite the contrary, his pattern (not technique) is taught explicitly four times in the Gospels (Mt. 10, Mk. 6, Lk. 9 and Lk. 10). Besides being taught explicitly by Jesus, Jesus himself demonstrated the pattern a number of times (Jn. 4:1-42 is a good example). And we see the twelve apostles and later Christians following the same pattern.
I’d love to talk about the details here of praying for workers in the harvest, supernatural ministry, being sheep among wolves, not taking a purse or bag or sandals, peace resting or returning and wiping the dust off our feet. But this post is about the strategic pattern. If you want more details it is Chapter 9: Viral Church Planting in my book Viral Jesus. But here is the basic strategic pattern: a.) Allow Jesus to introduce you to the house of peace (Lk. 10:5). He does this by connecting you to the person of peace (Lk 10:5). While this will look different every time, Jesus seems to follow a pattern when leading us into this ministry. For more detail on this pattern read my post Finding the Person of Peace. Following Jesus supernaturally into this pattern allows us to walk down the Highway of the Gospel, which I will talk about in my next post.
But, I think we need to take seriously Jesus words of exhortation when he taught the disciples how to do this kind of ministry in Matt. 10. A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master (Matt. 10:24-25b). Isn’t it time we started doing ministry again like Jesus instead of the latest famous ministry guru?
Pick a question and respond:
- Why do you think we are more willing to follow the example of the latest ministry guru instead of doing what Jesus taught us to do?
- Do you think our social context so distinct that ministry Jesus style won’t work here?
- Do you know anyone who understands and practices Lk 10 style ministry? Do you?
- In discussing the Lk 10 pattern I used phrases like “Allow Jesus to introduce you…”, “He does this by connecting you…” and “Following Jesus supernaturally into this pattern…”. Do you think we can do ministry Jesus style just by following the pattern ourselves or treating it as one more technique? Is the pattern itself enough?