In my previous installment, I spoke of the journey to this point, and some of the formational influences that affected my personal theology. From this point onward, I’ll discuss my three-fold philosophy. These points consist of ministry being: the service of God, the equipping of the saint, and the broad proclamation of the gospel.
Ministry at its molecular level is service to God. This crucial fact is the very lynchpin that upholds the very enterprise of ministry. While it’s true that ministry is multifaceted, service to God must remain at its epicenter if it is to remain “Christian” ministry. There is a subtle but deadly trap that one can fall into in their ministerial worldview. That is, it is easy to loose sight of the unseen and become fixated on the “human” aspect of service. The almighty becomes blurred, then ultimately obliterated. Finally, the ministerial service becomes anthrocentric rather than Theocentric.
A ministry that is anthrocentric is fundamentally flawed from its onset. Rather than being focused on the author and source of the ministerial mandate, it is focused on the perceived object of service (This being mankind). Because of its improper origins, it lacks the divine empowerment to truly change hearts and lives. With its primary focus directed toward humanity and lacking any true power to affect change in the hearts of men, this ministry becomes little more than a venue to celebrate the brokenness of the broken. In the final state, one is left with a hollow, secularized endeavor that neither glorifies the Almighty nor transforms humanity.
Perhaps the greatest example of anthrocentric error is the Social Gospel and its ultimate failure. The Social Gospel was ostensibly a noble idea at its onset. But when the endeavor slipped its gyros and lost its divine scope, it became immediately doomed. In the end state, we were left with a product that couldn’t reach hearts anymore than Johnson’s “Great Society”. In light of the evidence (Far more evidence than this paper allows), genuine ministry must be Theocentric.
Theocentric ministry, as the name implies, is first and foremost focused on God and the Godhead. Its prime goal is to bring glory to the Father. Theocentric ministry sees the Father as both primary object and source for ministry. Specifically, it exists to bring glory to the father, and understands the Father to be the power and impetus behind the service. Where anthrocentric ministry is linear, theocentric ministry is circular. The former works from a point of departure while the latter exists in a focused orbit.
Theocentric ministry, due to its divine focus, continually seeks to ascertain the counsel and commands of the divine. There is a much clearer concept of absolutes, and the understanding of the one true answer in affecting change in the hearts of men. Regardless of the response, the theocentric practitioner operates from and communicates the full counsel of the Almighty as it is revealed in scripture.
Theocentric ministry will always be successful. Now, this is the point where an apparent contradiction exists. It would be tempting to point out numerous examples where otherwise biblical ministries fell flat, with little apparent fruit. This line of reason fails to take the true object of theocentric ministry into account. If only one life was affected, that is one soul that was won for God’s kingdom. It could well be that God in His providence used the endeavor simply to reach that one heart. (Remember, we’re speaking of the God who sent His only Son).
With the object clearly defined, we’ll next consider the second aspect of ministry which is “Equipping the Saints”.