Lessons from Last Night’s Ministry Class

I have really learned quite a bit from this seminary class and I expect to learn more. I want to say that up front so that you won’t think the class was a complete waste of time. I also want to add that I love the prof and believe him to be a man who desires to see the gospel spread and churches strengthened. My problem was mainly with the others in the class. If you’re wondering what my response to all this was, let me just say that I used up all my political capital last night and then some. At one point, I thought my head was going to explode right there.

In last night’s class, the peril of letting ignorant people give input when they should be learning was made abundantly clear to me. One man (who constantly has to throw in his two-cents though most of the time he takes forever to get to the point and then I am never quite clear how that point is connected to what we were talking about before; the following is an example) spoke of how he once preached for an hour on a topic and then later found out he had been completely wrong about the subject. I guess it never occurred to him that had he simply studied about the topic or subject before he preached (or better yet, if he had simply taken a text of Scripture and worked through it), maybe he would have spoken truth to begin with.

Here’s a small sampling of what I learned in class last night:

(1.) The gospel is a commodity to be marketed and sold. It is a “product” that far exceeds anything else out there and if you simply package and present the product properly, “people will drive to get the product.” This from a salesman whose interpretation of Scripture is apparently driven more by his background and outlook than proper hermeneutics. Let me take this opportunity to express that I despise the point of view that equates evangelism to salesmanship and the gospel to a product. I also have little respect (if any) for those who make the comparison.

(2.) Small churches shouldn’t exist. Small churches should be wiped out and pulled together into larger churches to remove the sectarianism and division that small churches breed. Unbelievers have too many options and since churches teach many different things, it is confusing to them and they shrug off church altogether (I guess it never occurred to them that perhaps churches should go back to the Bible and learn the truth and teach the truth which will eliminate the majority of differences that are evident in churches). This from the woman who is a leader in business and who sits on several boards of her seeker-sensitive church. Her understanding of the church and its ministries is driven more by current business models (as she herself alluded to) than by Scriptural understanding. She never expressed who is to tell these small churches this or who is to accomplish this; I presume that the megachurches would take the lead. The implicit understanding is that megachurches are better than small churches and small churches should simply do what they are told. They obviously aren’t doing something right of they would be megahurches themselves. When I pointed out that ¾ of North American Christians attend churches of 100 or below so (a) most Christians don’t want to be in a megachurch, and (b) I can’t believe that ¾ of North American Christians are lazy, unconcerned about evangelism, and ingrown, I was greeted with blank stares.

(3.) No church is capable of carrying out every part of the Great Commission. Some churches are strong at evangelism while others are strong on discipleship. Every church does both evangelism and discipleship but no church can really be good at both so the churches should work together, some at evangelism and others at discipleship. Now I understand what this means and I think this does often happen naturally. People are saved in seeker-sensitive churches and later realize that they need a little more depth to the teaching and discipleship. Another thing that surprised me about this was how defensive the seeker-sensitive-megachurch lady got when the prof said this. She started talking about small groups and hiring people who can teach, etc. I thought that through the Holy Spirit’ power each church was supposed to grow to maturity and completeness just as each individual believer is supposed to grow to maturity and completeness. I thought that Christ, who is the Head of the church, was to make each church what it should be.

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About Michael R. Jones

Pastor and PhD candidate writing on Paul's theology of suffering.
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