Saturday, September 30, 2006

I'm back

After a bit of web-surfing tonight while I was putting together my sermon for tomorrow, I've decided that I need to be more diligent again about writing on this blog. The amount of good, intelligent writing that some people do on their blogs out there is astounding. I'm ashamed at my lack of entries. How do they have the time? I suppose they are just more intellectually active than I am. In defense of myself, I have been writing regularly (at least once a week) in a journal for over 3 years.

Tomorrow I'm addressing the topic of prophecy and ministry as it comes up in the story of Eldad and Medad in Numbers 11. I remember preaching this text on the Day of Pentecost on internship. It is an appropriate text to use for Pentecost because of the way the pericope ends: Moses says, "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!" Moses, in a statement of irony, serves as the perfect segue to the Good News of Pentecost. The Spirit has been placed on all of God's people! In baptism, we are anointed.

That, I think, is one of the central points to keep in mind in ministry. The holy ministry of announcing God's kingdom in word and deed belongs to the whole people of God, not just the ordained. Just as the prophecies of Eldad and Medad were not squashed by the "chosen" leaders, we should be careful as called church leaders not to run roughshod over other people's unexpected attempts at ministry. So often we are handed the reigns and told it's our wagon to drive. The temptation is to make it all about us. It is dangerous and improper, as my theology professor said, to build a congregation on the pastor's personality. I would add that it is also dangerous to build a congregation on a pastor's ideas for ministry.

What is important to notice is whether any particular of ministry is, in fact, building up and fostering the kingdom of God. If the ministry is spreading the word about Christ to people on the outside; if the ministry is seeking to include the "other;" if the ministry is of a reconciling nature, then it is prophetic. If, on the other hand, it serves to divide or frustrate the community's overall witness and focus the community in on itself, then it is probably not prophecy and is not the work of the Spirit. The thoughts and opinions of the community and its leaders must be continually brought to bear on these issues. As with so many things in Christianity, it is on ongoing process that fully takes into consideration our innate ability to "get things wrong" (sin) and Christ's innate habit of loving us back on track (grace).