“Who are you, Lord, and what are you up to?” is the question Andrew Purves, in the 2d chp of his book The Crucifixion of Ministry, asks. The minister, to avoid thinking it is all dependent upon him or her and to avoid burnout and to find the grace of God at work, needs to be asking this question.
I’m wondering how you are responding to the theme of this book: That ministry is not ours but the work of God into which we are drawn, to which we are called, and by whom we are empowered? Does this help you at the grassroots level of ministry? When the going gets tough, and when the days get long, and when ministry seems hard … does this realization give you air to breathe and strength for the day?
Purves tells us of a time sitting in chapel and being overwhelmed by the oughts and shoulds and musts and have tos in the sermon. “We get guilted into discipleship,” he argues (47). But, his thesis once again: “Christian faithfulness is possible only because Jesus Christ has us grasped firmly by the scruff of our spiritual necks and will not lose hold” (48). He doesn’t like the WWJD question. “Everything,” he says in his typical overstated way, “is now cast back upon us to achieve” (51).
Instead, we need to be seeking what Jesus is at work doing. “Is ministry something we do, or is ministry something Jesus does?” (52) — a grand false dichotomy if ever there was one. Ministry is participating in his ministry. “It is not our ministries that make Christ present; it is the present, living Christ who makes our ministries possible” (53).
So, he constructs a bit of a christology for ministry:
1. The incarnation
2. The resurrection
3. The ascension
Jesus is the “Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost” (64).
And then a bit on Trinitarian theology: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit (from 2 Cor 13:13).