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Joining God in His Work

2007 May 21
by Mike

This weekend was full of chances to call people to the way of Christ:

A wedding (my third this spring) — for “the girl next door.” Literally, the young woman who was six when I became her minister and seven when we became her next door neighbors.

Senior Sunday — 59 seniors were listed on the back of the bulletin. That’s a lot of people. And it’s the first time I can remember a “whoop” every time it was mentioned that someone was going to Texas A&M. (We’ll be checking hidden security cameras later to find out where that was coming from!)

Baccalaureate for Wylie High School. We actually had six Wylie graduates from our youth group this year, which was as many as I can remember. (We’re largely an AHS youth group.)

There were so many strengths in my ministry training — especially in languages and exegesis. But there were some holes, too. I don’t remember anyone ever saying, “By the way, here’s what you do when you’re asked to be involved in a funeral.” Or a wedding. To say nothing of church leadership, conflict resolution, etc. So many good changes have been made in the last three decades in ministry training.

The biggest change is helping ministers understand how to lead a church (or plant a church!) that knows how to live as missionaries in a broken world. It’s long past time for the church to quit throwing its weight around, whining because America has changed. It’s time for us to join God in what he’s doing around the world in bringing good news to the poor, to the broken-hearted, and to the outcasts.

24 Responses leave one →
  1. May 21, 2007

    Ministry training has evolved and changes were needed. Just like a student training to be a doctor must take part in clinicals, so also should preachers. Allow him to train with another minister.

    I remember finishing school with a boat load of information, and the first week someone dies and I’m told to go comfort them. I ask, “what am I supposed to say?” No one had told me anything about grief counseling.

    As for holes in ministry training, we’ll never be able to fill them all, but for now it looks like on the job experience is the best way to get it.

  2. May 21, 2007

    A little nitpick … you wrote, “helping ministers understand how to lead a church (or plant a church) …”

    Scripturally speaking, isn’t that the job of a pastor/elder?

    I have long thought that the CoC model of leadership where the minister (who does most of the pastoring, teaching, counseling) reports to a group of elders is not quite right. In my mind it would be more appropriate to call the minister what he really is — a pastor — and lead accordingly with the other recognized pastor/elders. Because, you are right Mike, it is the minister who often leads the church, plants new churches, and is most sought for counsel when the going gets tough.

  3. May 21, 2007

    My grandson, who is graduating in Celina, Texas this week over near Dallas, and his class had a Baccalaureate yesterday and my daughter said the entire Senior class was going to sing a spiritual song. I thought that was terrific and am sort of surprised that some schools still have Baccalaureates.

    I wonder if that is a Texas thing these days. Anyone know of any other states(schools) having them along with graduation? Just wondering . . .

    Dee

  4. May 21, 2007

    Mike,

    Amen!

    The days that I ask God to join me in my work are miserable. The days that I follow God’s lead (even to the Phaaroahs & Philistines) are miraculous!

    I often wonder if the Master’s in Divinity was the best road when so much of day to day ministry deals with conflict and leadership.

    As for my “holes” in training (aside from the massive one in my head)…they all stem from a lack of focus on the subjects of your last line: the poor, the broken hearted, and the outcasts. I still struggle with getting out of the temple and out to the highways and byways of life.

  5. May 21, 2007

    Mike: That last paragraph is so true. Joining God in his work in communities, apart from the church at large, is the hope for this world. Churches have for too long failed to prepare members for mission work. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Scott permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Who would have thought that “Save the Hairdresser, Save
    the World” would be the best baccalaureate address that I’ve
    ever heard. You did a great job of reminding everyone what
    true success is and challenging the Wylie seniors. Do they
    teach you guys how to do baccalaureates in grad schoool?:) If
    not, there’s alot of young ministers who would benefit from
    seeing the tape of yesterday’s address.

  7. Bob permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Dee,

    Yesterday our worship leader badly bungled the pronuciation of “baccalaureate.” He said, “That must be a Texas thing; we never heard of it in Arkansas.” At the baccalaureate itself, the speaker said very few schools have these ceremonies any more.

  8. May 21, 2007

    Bob and all –

    My daughter told me that not only was the Celina senior class going to sing a spiritual at their baccalaureate yesterday, they are going to all sing another spiritual song at their graduation this coming Friday night. She thinks – and I do, too – that that is really terrific!

    Do y’all think baccalaureates are just a Texas thing? That’s interesting. I think they COULD be really inspirational and an important way to start a young life out in the world . . .

    Dee

  9. Sandra permalink
    May 21, 2007

    I live in Newnan, Georgia; and yesterday afternoon all three of the local highschools had baccalaureate services. They were held in area churches with each school assigned to one of the buildings. The newpaper write up this morning stated that most of the speeches, the music, etc. were led by the students. When my own children graduated here 15 or so years ago, the baccalaureate was held in the highschool gyn.

  10. Katey permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Mike, my brother Brody has been attending Highland on his own for the past year and a half or so (we grew up at Willis), and is graduating from AHS this week. My parents were there for Senior Sunday yesterday and talked about how wonderful it was. Brody was one of those who is going to A&M next year- and my parents even mentioned the “whoop” going on as well. Brody has really grown so much at Highland, and has mentioned several times how much he’s enjoyed your preaching. Highland has been wonderful for him and to him, and I am so appreciative for that. Thanks for being the kind of church that embraces lonely HS kids like that- it means so much.

  11. Bill permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Elders and ministers all have to learn to work as a team if a local congrgation is going to practice a true missional effort. The skill of the trained minister has to be merged with the manpower and heart of a strong group of shepherds to accomplish what God needs for us to be in the communities where we serve.

  12. May 21, 2007

    I think us Yankees even have baccalaureates up here in Illinois too! 🙂

  13. Josh Ross permalink
    May 21, 2007

    The waters of baptism don’t just flow from earth into heaven, but they flow into our jobs, schools, restaurants, neighborhoods, shopping malls, soup kitchens, street corners, etc. The power of the baptismal moment continues to call us to participation in the death, burial, and resurrection today. It has an on-going effect on how we love God, and how we love people. Our baptisms call us again to responsibility to the world. We are agents of reconciliation.
    I would say that my days flow better when I wake up receiving God’s invitation to join him in that day, but usually when I awake aware of his invitation, I find myself in the midst of spontaneous ministry that isn’t on my calendar. I find myself surrounded by Kingdom activity.

  14. May 21, 2007

    Josh, I agree with you…the waters of baptism can spill anywhere…sometimes in surprising places. Thank you for those words.

    Mike, Sunday was moving..those kids held on to each other and were true community to each other…powerful. I love that you spoke to them about love and that being the most important thing of all. God is love. We all need to be reminded that we, or our accomplishments, are not the most important things.

    I know that you say that you had holes in your training to minister but maybe I am glad that you have those holes…someone might have trained you in the wrong way and then you wouldn’t be doing the powerful things you are doing.

  15. May 21, 2007

    Well said brother! Well said in deed. There is alot of evangelism that needs to be done right here in our own country. In the Northeast and Northwest especially. That is what I’ve decided to do: join a church plating effort in either the Northeast or Northwest. And yes, I’m glad to hear that our Universities and Preaching Schools are doing more to train people on how to lead a church, plant a church, and in church conflicts and so forth. That is timely needed. God bless you in your ministry. I’ve read a couple of your books too. Good stuff! Be blessed!

  16. clint permalink
    May 21, 2007

    I thought we asked God to join our work? (said with sarcastic experience)

  17. ACU35 permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Everyone…check out Dr. Beck’s blog. Dr. Back gave the charge for the class of 2007 at ACU’s graduation last week. It was amazing and he even put up a summary to read on his blog!

    http://experimentaltheology.blogspot.com/

  18. Leland permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Mike,

    “It’s time for us to join God in what he’s doing around the world in bringing good news to the poor, to the broken-hearted, and to the outcasts.”

    Nice catch phrase, but doesn’t really make sense to me.

    Is the good news that they won’t be poor, broken hearted or outcasts?
    Sounds like Joel Osteen.

    Is the good news they can be like “US”? Sounds rather arrogant.

    Is the good news that death alleviates this hell on earth and they can finally get a moment of freaking peace? Sounds like no real news at all. Can’t eat it for dinner.

    I have heard about this good news all my life but have never really thought it all that great.

    Maybe we should figure out what this news is before we go tell it.

  19. May 21, 2007

    Its a broken world inside the church too…I’ve found that out as of late…

  20. Beth permalink
    May 21, 2007

    Arkansas schools do have baccalaurate ceremonies, although there may be fewer than in past years. They began going “out” about 20 years ago for some reason…probably too many other things going on at that time of year like track meets, honors receptions, progressive dinners, etc.

  21. annie permalink
    May 21, 2007

    There are several schools in Ar-ken-saw that have Baccalaureate too—-though my boys always said it was just a fancy name for Sunday ATERNOON church.

    If we could’ve had Mike speaking at ours, we would’ve appreciated it alot more than we did.

  22. annie permalink
    May 21, 2007

    That would be AFTERNOON with an “F”

  23. May 21, 2007

    We must remember that missions is the people you work with, your friends, maybe family members, next door, down the street, your neighborhood, and right here in America. America is a mission point that tend to for get. We think of mission points as over seas, in africa, in the jungle somewhere far off. No, people need Jesus right here in America. God bless ministers, missionaries, Christians who are making a difference right here in the United States.

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