It is said that the main ministries of a church are evangelism and nurture. Other ministries like music, prayer, training, theological education, and church management are launched around them.
Some churches I know seem to have each and every kind of ministries and all sorts of gatherings, but they tend to stagnate and their congregation doesn't grow day after day and year after year.
Why? It may be not good to have a church with many ministries because too many ministries are prone to lead a church stray away from its goal and direction.
Here are the five urgent ministries for the church in China to consider if they wish to grow and develop. It is important that we consider these ministries because it may help us determine what course the Chinese church should follow.
1. Transition into a "cell group church"
In Exodus, Moses chose officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens to help him judge the people, which made his work efficient and contributed to the establishment of a political system after the Israelites entered the land of Canaan.
In the evangelism ministry of the Lord Jesus, he spent three and half years developing only twelve disciples. He specifically chose Peter, James, and John as the three pillars of his disciples.
The book Acts also shows the growth of Christian groups who pray, study the Bible and suffer together. Through their burning "fellowship", the Gospel spread all over the world.
In a modern society racked by instability, cults, and impersonality, it's necessary and essential to shift the traditional gathering model to cell groups. The focus of a cell group are not gatherings but living a lifestyle that members would be inspired to contact and care for each other in love, share their own difficulties and weaknesses and pray for each other.
2. Establishing the faith of the next generation
Before the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, Moses stated the relations between the law and covenants are important. Apart from showing the core of God's commands, Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy stressed the responsibility and importance of faith's continuity. After entering into Canaan, the current and next generation of Israelites worshiped God, but the third generation gradually abandoned God, walking into the time of judges mingled with darkness and loss of faith.
It is an important reminder for today's Christians. Don't merely focus on "famous speakers", "great pastors" or "anointed preachers". The church's revival doesn't occur without the inheritance of faith to the younger generation.
Lots of Christians are too keen on church ministries and their work to remember that they are the spiritual examples of their children.
There's a family of four in my parish that never sleeps in the morning. They get up at six am on time and the husband leads the children to sing hymns, pray, and share verses while the wife cooks breakfast. After the sharing, they eat together and send the children to school before starting the day's work. The wife said that their faith life was orderly and the husband shared that the family altar mattered.
A pastor said, "Let your children see how you live out faith. You needn't be perfect but try to share your God-centered efforts. This is the most significant work of Christian parents - giving faith and guidance to your children. "
3. Truth nurture for believers
Another pastor told me that his congregation encountered many difficulties in the early days of the church. Nobody didn't dare go to church. Then, the church started to equip them with the truth. They could face any circumstance in a positive way because they were rooted on the rock of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13-14 said, "Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. "
God's workers should nurture believers until they become mature and stand fast in the faith.
Two phenomena are common in the church.
The first one is that the congregation don't spiritually grow or transform much although it is full of preaching and nurturing the truth. The other one is that the church puts its priority on many ministries rather than teaching the truth.
4. Discipleship training
One of the church's largest challenge is "the lack of workers". Failing to launch discipleship ministries or to understand the truth about making disciples, the church's goal in converting people rather than devote to discipleship should be reconsidered.
In a word, a disciple is a Christian who is willing to mainifest Christ's life through himself or herself. Being a disciple is more than regularly attending services, learning courses, and obeying church rules. Developing one's relationship with God is more important.
Therefore, being a disciple is not to gain benefits for yourself, but to follow Christ, teach what Christ teaches you to other people, and train them to teach the truth to more people.
5. Ecumenical evangelism
When the Lord Jesus was in the world, He was often unarmed and in constant danger, but He commanded the church to "make disciples of all nations". He wanted His church to have an ecumenical mind. Even though a church is small, it can develop fast like a mustard seed with an ecumenical vision.
A pastor said, "The church should make serious self-criticism and introspection for the Great Commandment of Christ. "
With a heart for the un-reached, Christians should care about the Heavenly Father's business and expand their sight into the whole world, especially the extension condition of God's kingdom. What's more, take action into ecumenical evangelism.
(The author is a Christian in Xinjiang.)
- Translated by Karen Luo