Our Ministry plan: What is the plan your life? Everyone has to live by some plan. This is the organizing principle around which the aim of life is carried out. We may not be conscious of the plan, in every action or even know that we have a plan but nonetheless, our actions invariably unfold some kind of pattern of the centre of things.
When we actually get right down to it and try to see our objective and how we are going about to achieve it, what we discover may not be very satisfying. An honest appraisal should cause us all to be the person who believes Jesus’ way is the rule by which every action should be tested. It might well be that some cherished plans of our own making may have to be redirected or perhaps abandoned altogether.
Equally agonizing maybe the adjustment of the congregation to the master’s view of the Ministry. In all probability our whole concept of success will have to be re-evaluated. Nevertheless, if the principles outlined here have any validity at all, they should be understood as guidelines for action. It is only as they are applied to the everyday work of living now that they have any real significance for our lives to regard them as true means that they must be relevant.
Methods will vary: – Every one of us then should be seeking some way to incorporate the wisdom of Jesus’ strategy into our own preferred method of Evangelism. Not everyone will be led to adopt the same ritual or organization of procedure nor should we want everyone to fit into the same mold. Variety is in the very structure of the universe and any method that God is pleased to use is a good method, though this does not exclude the possibility of improvement in our way of doing it. The master gives us outlines to follow but He expects us to work out the details according to local circumstances and traditions. This demands every bit of resourcefulness that we have.
New and bold approaches will need to be tried as situations change and not everything tried will work ,one uncoiling to fail in the determination to find some way to get the job done will never get started, nor will the person afraid to try all try again make much progress.
The priority of men: But whatever the particular form our methodology takes, Jesus’ life would teach us that finding and training men to reach must have priority. The multitudes cannot know the Gospel unless they have a living witness merely giving them an explanation will not suffice. The wondering masses of the world must have a demonstration of what to believe. They must have a man who will stand among them and say; “Follow me, I know the way” here then is where all our plans must focus. No matter how spiritual our emphasis might otherwise be the enduring relevance of all that we do will depend upon how well this mission is fulfilled yet we must realize that the kind of manpower that Christ needs does not happen by accident. It requires deliberate planning and concentrated effort. If we are to train men, we must work for them, we must win them. Above all, we must pray for them. Some are already in positions of authority in the church, others are among those waiting to receive an invitation to come to Christ; but wherever they are, and they must be reached and trained to be effective disciples of our Lord.
Begin with a few: We should not expect a great number to begin with nor should we desire it. The best work is always done with a few. Better to give a year or so to one or two men who learn . It means to conquer for Christ than to spend a lifetime with a congregation just keeping the program going, nor does it matter how small or inauspicious the beginning maybe. What counts is that those whom we do give priority upon our life to give it away.
Stay together: The only realistic way to effect this is by being together. If our followers are to see through us what they are to become, we must be with them. This is the essence of the plan to let them see us in action so as to feel our vision and to know how it relates to daily experience. Evangelism thus becomes to them an intimately practical thing that has minimal fictions in everything else. It is seen as a way of life not a theological dogma. What is more, by being with us, their own involvement in the work is inevitable.
Give them time: A plan like this of course is going to take time. Anything worthwhile does, but with a little fore thought we can plan to do many things together which we should have to do anyway, such as visitation, going to conferences, getting recreation and even having devotions together. Thus the time it takes to be together need not be overbearing. Likewise, if we are alert, most of the time our disciples could be with us while we are serving others and in fact helping us in our large outreach.
Group meetings: In order to give a little stability to this system, however, it may be necessary to arrange special times when the group or part of it can meet together with us. During these informal gatherings we can study the Bible, pray and in general share with one another our deepest burdens and desires. It is not necessary to broadcast what is being done or even at first to tell the group what our ultimate plan is, but just let the meetings grow out of the common need for fellowship. In turn the group can work out its own particular disciples within the frame work of the church.
This group idea is being rediscovered in many places today. As such, it probably represents one of the most hopeful sign of awakening on the horizon. In all walks of life and within every kind of church connection, little spiritual organisms are springing up, some of them struggling for direction, some off on a tangent, but on the whole, the move meant expressing a deep yearning in the heart of men for the realities of Christian experience since they are not bound by tradition or fixed rules from without, there naturally is a wide difference in the emphasis and form these cells take ; but the principle of close disciplined Fellowship within the group is common to most.
It is this principle at the centre which makes the method so conducive to growth, and for that reason all of us would do well to utilize it in our ministry with men. In this connection, it is not without great significance that the leading Evangelist in the world today Billy Graham, recognizes the tremendous potential of this plan when employed properly in the church. In response to the question, “If you were a pastor of a large church in a principle life, what would be your plan of action?” Mr. Graham replied; ‘’I think one of the first things I would do would be to get a small group of 8 or 10 or 12 men around me that would meet a few hours a week and pay the price.
It would cost them something in time and effort. I would share with them everything I have, over a period of years. Then I would actually have twelve ministers among the laymen who in turn could take 8 or 10 or 12more and team them.
I know one or two churches that are doing that and it is revolutionizing the church. Christ, I think set the pattern; He spent most of his time with 12 men. He didn’t spend it with a great crowd. In fact, every time he had a great crowd, it seems to me that they weren’t too many results. The great results it seems to me, come in his personal interview and in the time he spent with the twelve. Here, Graham is merely echoing the wisdom of Jesus’ method.
Expect something from them: It is not enough just to involve persons in some kind of group associations, of which the church is but the larger expression. They must be given some way to express the things which they have learned. Unless the opportunity is provided for this outreach, the group can stagnate in self contentment and eventually fossilize into nothing more than a mutual admiration society. We must keep our purpose clear.
The times that we come apart from the world are not a release from the conflict but only a strategic maneuver to gain more strength for the attack. It is our business then to see to it that those with us given something to do which requires the best that are in them.
Everyone can do something; first assignments might be normal, routine tasks, such as mailing letters. Here, they can fill indispensable role of the ministry by getting with those who are still babies in Christ and leading them on in the same disciplines and in the same way that they have been taught. Those whom we train for this work thus become the key to the preservation of every evangelistic effort of the church to not only in conserving the Forward advance but also in assuring its continuing out reach.
Keep them Going: All this is going to require a lot of supervision both in the personal development of those men and in their work with others. We will have to make it a practice to meet with them and hear how address system for an outdoor service or for that matter, merely letting them provide for our entertainment in their home. But gradually these responsibilities can be increased as they are able to do more. Those with a teaching gift could be utilized in Sunday school. Before long we might conveniently assign them some pastoral work suited to their abilities.
Some of them can call on the sick or visit them in hospitals, others encouraged taking over some speaking engagement or filling nearby pulpits and of course everyone needs to be given some specific work by way of personal evangelism. Probably no more essential contribution can they make to the ministry of the church than in the area of follow-up of New-Christians.
Keep a record somewhere of their progress to be sure that nothing is left out. This is particularly necessary where we may be working with several at the same time, with each man at a different level of experience. We will need to exercise patience for their development very likely will be slow and encumbered with many setbacks. But as long as they are honestly seeking to know the truth and will be willing to follow it, they will someday grow up to maturity in Christ.
Help them carry their Burdens: What perhaps is the most difficult part of the whole process of training is that we must anticipate their problems and prepare them for what they will face. This will mean seeking them out where they are or counseling with them while they are with us in other activities. Questions which have risen in their experience must be answered while the circumstances that occasioned the problem are still fresh in their mind. Carnal attitudes and reactions need to be detected early and dealt with decisively, as also offensive personal habits, unfounded prejudices and anything else that would obstruct their priesthood with God and with man.
The main thing is to help them keep growing in grace and in knowledge. It might be wise in respect to our human memory to set up for our self a schedule of things to cover in the course of their training
This is terribly hard to do, and it can become exasperating. It means that we can seldom put them out of our mind. Evan when we are in our private mediation and study our disciples will be in our prayers and dreams. But would a parent who loves his children want it any other way? We have to accept the burden of their immorality until such time as they can do it for themselves.
To take the attitude, at least in the early stages of their development, that they can handle completely on their own whatever comes along is inviting disaster. We must be sensible. As their guardian and advisor we are responsible for teaching our spiritual children how to live for the master.
Let them Carry on; Everything should be leading these chosen men to the day when they will assume by themselves a ministry in their own sphere of influence. As that time approaches, each one should be well along with his own training program with those won to Christ by his witness or who have been assigned to him for follow up.
Our strategy thus without their knowledge will have already been infused into their practice. However, not to leave it obscure, before withdrawing our supervision. We should explain to them explicitly what has been our plan from the beginning. They need to have it clearly in mind to that they can impart it to those that they are seeking to help.
Spiritual Experience above all; The crucial thing of course is their own spiritual experience. Before they should be turned loose from our control they need to be thoroughly established in the faith that over comes the world. The devil, assisted by all the demons of hell, will seek to defeat them by every cunning device at his command.
The world to which they are going lies under his evil spell. It will be a battle all the way. Every inch of progress will have to be won by conquest, for the enemy will never surrender. Nothing less that the infilling of the spirit of Christ will be sufficient to meet the challenge, unless they live in His communion and go forth in His purity and power.
They can easily be overwhelmed by the forces amassed against them, and all our work with them be nullified. Everything that we have done then depends upon the faithfulness of these men. It does not matter how many we enlist for the cause, but how many conquer for Christ. That is why all along, our emphasis must be upon quality of life. If we get the right quality of leadership, the rest will follow; if we do not get it, the rest have nothing worth following.
The price of victor come High; Such a high standard of expectation is costly, to be sure probably many of those we start with will think it too much and fall by the way.
We might as well face it now. Christian service is demanding and if men are going to be of any use for God, they must have learnt to seek first the kingdom. Yes there will be disappointments but of those who do come through, and go out to project our life into harvest fields beyond reckoning, there will be increasing joy as the years go by.
We are not living primarily for the present, our satisfaction is in knowing that in generations to come our witness for Christ will still be bearing fruit through them in an over-widening cycle of reproduction to the ends of the earth and unto the end of time.
Is this your Vision?; The world is desperately seeking someone to follow. That they will follow someone is certain, but will he be a man who knows the way of Christ, or will he be one like themselves leading them only into greater darkness? This is the decisive question of our plan of life. The relevance of all that we do waits upon its verdict, aid in turn the destiny of the multitudes hangs in the balance.