Thursday, 24 April 2008

Success is serving - Review of Liberating

The second chapter in part two of Liberating identifies that success is serving. Drawing on Jesus’ example from John 13, the Hughes' directly counter the thinking that ‘successful’ ministry is recognised ministry. It is easy to culturise (and hence ignore) this chapter – very few of us exist in contexts where church attendance is in the thousands, or where there are so many conferences and gatherings that we could get ‘on the circuit’. But, that said, Katoomba is always calling, rate of growth is always tempting to publicise, and being mentioned in Southern Cross, or on Sydney Anglicans, etc. could be seen as a mark of being successful. Indeed, I remember now with some shame how proud I was that a sermon I preached was included in the Sydney Anglicans sermon archive. It was completely random that it made it there - I knew that it wasn’t a particularly good sermon, but that didn’t matter – I was there – I had made it! (I think it’s been pulled now).

The chapter concludes by identifying that successful ministry is focused on serving in preaching, administration, and counselling. Theologically, this chapter is rich because it draws implicitly on Luther’s theologia crucis, and indeed on the very nature of God – other-person-centeredness. To be great is to serve. Indeed, the greatest of all did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for others (Mark 10:45).

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