Every Christian ministry has many elements. We think some elements are central, primary, or essential. Others are peripheral, secondary, or non-essential (they might still be very good!). When we aim wrongly we run into various potential problems.
If the ministry has a primary aim of:
- fun/entertainment, then the entertainment industry will do it better than you
- community, then you are competing with social media and self-selecting common interest groups (sport, bands, camping, …)
- social justice, then you will soon feel that power lies elsewhere: government bodies or NGOs
- care for the needy, then frustration will kill you because single-issue care organisations will out-perform you in doing good works
- counselling, then effectiveness will be limited by the skills of the leaders (and professional counsellors will rightly have some concerns about you)
All these aims are good. I don’t think they’re primary for a church, or youth group, or Bible study group.
But if the ministry has a primary aim of making disciples of Jesus, then:
- you have no competition from movies or footy or going out for a drink. Their aims are different
- you are serving Jesus’ plan for the world (Matthew 19:17-20)
- you have freedom to use methods to help this, and free to toss out methods that hunder
- you will work with people, as a fellow disciple, rather than at people who are your clients
- you won’t be able to see the ultimate effects of your work – the day will reveal it (1 Corinthians 3:12-14)
- you will always feel the pull of one of the alternatives listed above
The end of the year is a good time, for me at least, to look back and see where I’ve drifted. It’s time to re-calibrate. And to pray for God’s help to keep discipleship central better next year than I did this year.