Looking Backward to Minister Forward

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Are you looking for some dynamic new teaching device or technique to transform your Sunday school classroom? Is there a new model of youth ministry everyone is raving about? Is your church thinking about revamping family ministry to appeal to a more media-driven culture?…It does the church good to be thoughtful and forward thinking in our approach to ministry. But sometimes we forget that the most important wisdom regarding these questions and decisions comes by looking backward, and not by what’s trending around us. How so?

In preparation for an upcoming seminar titled “Catechism: Out of Date, or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths?,” Sally Michael has been reading Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way  by J. I. Packer and Gary A. Parrett. Here is a quote that impressed her:

…we tire ourselves out by constantly striving to reinvent the wheel. Is the current state of discipleship lamentable? It may well be so in many of our churches. But rather than looking for the latest technique, program, marketing scheme, or impressive model, we would do well to stop, take some deep breaths, and carefully reconsider our course. God’s words uttered through the prophet Jeremiah many centuries ago seem apt for us today:

Thus says the LORD: “Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” But they said, “We will not walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

We agree with the widespread conviction that many evangelical churches are in need of deep change today…Our premise, however, is that the surest way forward is to carefully contemplate the wisdom of our past….In the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments we find an abundance of wisdom for building believers who will live to the glory and honor of our God. There are models and mandates, principles and practices that are as relevant for ministry today as they ever were. Church history also provides us with numerous examples of vibrant, fruitful seasons in the lives of God’s people, when true disciples were truly being made, when whole communities were alive with and for God’s glory. We do not disdain the idea of looking around at contemporary models to find guidance for our own ministries of disciple making. But we do suggest that this not be our only source for wisdom, or even our primary source. Instead, we would counsel, let us look back before looking around. 

(Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, copyright©2010, pages 24-25)

If this quote leaves you wanting to hear more on this topic, consider joining us for Children Desiring God’s 2016 Children’s Ministry Leader’s Conference, to be held April 14-16, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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