Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ministry diagram for focus

As I was rebuilding my understanding of calling after my breakdown, I had to take it piece by piece. I returned to my original passage of scripture that I feel is my calling.
Ephesians 4:11-13
11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 

It took a few weeks to come back to this verse and hear what I believe is my calling. I was called to equip believers, disciples, saints, and Christians to become mature in their faith. 

But as I explored that, I had to break it down into components to understand how I felt I was called to equip them. As I focused and meditated and pondered, 5 aspects of calling. Those 5 aspects are: drives, special callings, work areas, discipleship areas, and outcomes. What began as introspection on those aspects became an image that I have been refining. Images help me focus and this is what I have come up with:

This image is a composite of images that I used to focus on the 5 aspects. It isn't a perfect image for understanding completely what a calling upon one's life is about. This is just the clarity I have come to in my calling. 

At the top is the TRIANGLE making up the 1st Aspect: Drives in the Christian Life. Everyone has three drives as a believer, disciple, saint, and Christian. The first is Faith; that gift of grace that enables and empowers us to believe and live according to the likeness of Jesus Christ. The second is Passion. Passion is different from one person to the next. It ebbs and flows. It increases and decreases over time. Third is Calling. Every person who calls upon Jesus Christ as Lord is called. Faith is matter of accepting that call and passion is a matter of living that call out.

Next is the CORNERS in the center square highlighting the 4 Special Callings of Ephesians 4. This is the 2nd Aspect. Paul says that God has given the body of Christ 4 special called groups. These persons are a gift to the church who will enable the body of Christ to become more mature. The 4 Special Callings are Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, and Shepherd Teachers. Some interpretations separate the last calling into two. According to my (limited) skill in translating Greek, the text puts the greater weight of interpretation on the calling of shepherd and teacher being a combined calling. 

What about pastor-teacher? I came to a realization while studying this passage and the words used for these callings. The word used for "pastor" in this verse is the only instance of its use. In every other use of that word, it represents one of two things: shepherds who work with sheep and Jesus Christ. There is no other use in the New Testament (or the Old for that matter) where this word represents the meaning of pastor. I settled upon shepherd-teacher because I felt Jesus Christ couldn't be replaced.

The next image is the DIAMOND that represents the 3rd Aspect: The Work Areas of Ministry. I confess to coming to this image from Wayne Cordeiro's Leading On Empty. This book was recommended by my counselor. It helped me come to grips with some of the struggles I was experiencing in ministry. But the chapter on Solitary Refinement included a focus on "The Most Important Five Percent". This led me to examining the work areas that are represented in the life of one called to ministry. There were 4 work areas I identified: the work of specific Call, Gifts, Skills, and Tasks. 

Cordeiro emphasizes that 5% of what we do in ministry only we as an individual can do. God has put us in a place, individually, where there are certain things that can only be accomplished by us. I broadened this thought out to consider the entirety of what specifically we are called to do. There is a unique aspect to our calling. There is something inherent in  being a unique individual created in the image of God and filled with the Holy Spirit that makes our individual callings unique. Cordeiro puts personal discipleship, relationships, heath and wellness of body and soul. While I believe that those are responsibilities within a person's individual call, I prefer to focus on the ministry angle in this image. This represents the thing(s) we as an individual is God using us for in the work of the Kingdom of God.

Cordeiro then speaks to the 10% of what we do that someone who is trained adequately can accomplish. I consider the more important questions of what gifts and skills do we have that are ours but are also possessed among the body of Christ. Gifts are imparted to the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7) but are not necessarily unique to one person within a local congregation. Skills are things that can be trained and developed, but typically require a bit of aptitude that may not be available to all persons. 

Cordeiro says that 85% of what we do, anyone can do it. I took that to mean, what are the tasks that we have to do that someone else can do. Those things may be things that someone else can do better because they are skilled or gifted, but are somehow within the responsibility of the one in ministry at that moment. These may be things that require no skill or training, but represent that which must be done for the ongoing work of ministry. They might just be things that we are bad at, but still have to be accomplished.

I don't rank these by percentage. I also don't put any particular thing in any one area. They are ranked by priority, though. That unique thing we are called to do, that is our highest priority. The gifts and skills that we have are in place to support that thing we are called to do. The tasks that we have to accomplish are lower in priority. Unfortunately, they take a lot of our time. In a perfect work of ministry, these would be delegated out among the body of Christ so that one person does not have to carry the overwhelming load of them. But that is not always the case.

Our fourth Aspect is marked by 3 RECTANGLES highlighting the Areas of Discipleship that are mentioned in Ephesians 4:11-13: Unity of Faith, Knowledge of the Son, and Maturity. These three seems to represent what marks the churches development. Multiple times in Paul's writing we see him encourage the church addressed in a letter to strive toward unity and one-mindedness. The Unity of Faith ensures that we are all moving in the same direction as the body of Christ and as disciples. Knowledge of the Son is the intentional study, mentoring, and meditation on who Jesus Christ is as the center of our faith. More importantly, it is the directed focus of living into the likeness of Jesus Christ in our whole life as we grow in knowledge and understanding and the love of Christ (Eph 3:19). Finally, the Maturity that Paul emphasizes is the realization of the predestined end of our being: holiness and righteousness (1:4, 5:27). Maturity is not a state of perfected action, but the movement toward realized perfection. God has already predestined us toward this state (1:4-5) and prepared to be accomplished in this state (2:10). It takes the work of maturing to finally step into this state of Maturity.The 3 Areas of Discipleship encompass the work of the body of Christ in building one another up. There is room in all three of these areas to cover the essentials of learning, serving, and renewing one another. 

The last Aspect are the outward directed Outcomes of the life of the body of Christ. It is represented in 4 PARALLELOGRAMS. The four areas of outwardly directed work of the body of Christ are Teaching, Witness, Serving, and Justice. These 4 areas represent the major areas of outcome of Jesus' ministry. Jesus spent years going about the countryside teaching through parables and direct engagement with the crowds and with the disciples. Jesus witnessed to the power of God through the healing ministry. The entire ministry of Jesus was one of serving the people as a means of bringing God's love to their reality. And the Kingdom of God message of Jesus was one that started turning the tables of power upside down. The last, least, and lost were the first. The voiceless had a champion. The outcasts were included. 

This diagram is only a small representation of how I see ministry in my life. I feel called to the church through what is portrayed here. It isn't perfect or adequate for everyone. And it is not fully fleshed out. It was the step in the right direction that I needed to bring myself back to ministry. It also frames how I will step in the coming years. It may develop and change. For now, this is how I see my life in ministry.