Ministering in the 21st Century

Ministering in the 21st Century is not easy as previous century values and beliefs have changed. As such ministering today requires a full commitment to Christ who knows everything and certainly knows what to do. Have you considered that it was the same remedy that church leaders in the book of Acts as well as those prophets and lay brethren in the Old Testament needed back then? Given the technological advances, it is tempting and inviting to trust in gadgets and skills, forgetting that it was Christ, still is Christ, and always will be Christ who blesses the church with success. Accordingly, I share three observations taken from an article entitled, "Making the Church Relevant" by Amina's Arrais, Associate Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference.
Our Message in the Pulpit and in Sabbath School Must Provide Answers for Real Problems

I am a firm believer that when the Word of God is given the “spiritual sound” in our teaching and preaching, people will find meaning and purpose to life. The Bible is still very much a lamp and a guide even though it has been written thousands of years ago. A recent example of allowing the Word to come alive was witnessed in the preaching of the Count Down to the End Crusade conducted by Pastor Shiann O'Connor in Nassau, Bahamas. Pastor Barrington Brennen observed that "It has been a long time since believers and curious listeners heard the gospel so simple and clear. With his gifts of teaching and exposing the hidden truths, each night Pastor O’Connor, with the use of scripture and contemporary illustrations, explained the Biblical teachings in ways that even a child could understand. It was thrilling to see the faces of those in the pews, with their eyes fixed on the screen to read the passages from the Bible, then fixed on the on the stage, as Pastor O’Connor panned up and down like a passionate, caring deer, eager to share and protect." “He is so inspiring,” said Sally, a curious visitor who stopped by one night and kept on coming. Additionally, Pastor Brennen pointed out that "Pastor O’Connor is a creative and theologically astute preacher. Perhaps the sermons that will long linger in the minds of the listeners will be those on the 2300 days prophecy and the judgment." What a testimony of a fellow pastor! And did you note the 2300 days prophecy and judgment? Do we as elders and pastors preach such doctrines? It underscores the impact of the Bible when it is responsibly and spiritually proclaimed.

Our Church Must Go Outside Its Walls and Learn from and Minister to the Community

A few weeks ago, I explained in one of my weeklies the importance of visitation. However, more is intended here. To make the church relevant, we need to seek ways by which the church touches and influences communities positively. For example, our soup kitchen combined with clothes distribution and counseling; also opening up our churches as Home Work centers. In other words, identifying needs within communities and providing appropriate ministries to meet such needs. Jonas Arrais states, "The gospel is more than our vertical relationship with God; it is about developing a relationship with Him that makes us more like Him -- a people devoted to serving others." That, according to Arrias, involves feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, and caring for strangers. Essentially, these constitute ministries of compassion. And there is more that we can do; and there are things that we are doing but do not always report or share- not so much to reveal recipients names but to share and broaden our ministries of response.

The Church Must Believe in, Pray for and Depend on the Work of the Holy Spirit

It is so tempting in a church as blessed and organized worldwide as ours to take pride in our institutions, giftedness, and in the fact that we possess the “message.” This is most dangerous and deceptive; for Satan well knows that here is an area where he may get us to depend on our knowledge and our ability. After all, which church can boast of such a trained caliber of elders and pastors? Not many! Nevertheless, in the Old Testament Book of Zachariah 4:6, the Lord reminds us, "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." It would seem that some of us struggle to pray and agonize long enough to experience a break through. And that is not to say that we impress God by the length of time spent with Him. However it is to say that there is a need for the recognition of the work of the Holy Spirit and His desire to have us seek Him sincerely as if our lives depended on Him, as they actually do.

Given the above, members hopefully worldwide should see the relevance of the call for “Revival and Reformation.” Also, hopefully you in ACUM will see the relevance of the Prayer Initiative launched at the beginning of 2012, and further the new one scheduled for December 12 Union-wide. These are more than mere initiatives or clichés --these are deliberate and strategic means of calling the church to recognize and submit to our only Source of life and hope. We as a church can only be relevant in our community when our relationship to Christ is current, sustained and considered an absolute necessity. People will sense that we have been with Jesus and that we have something that they need.