Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Jesus Driven Ministry
Written by Chiam Yow Lip   
Writer : Ajith Fernando

Jesus_Driven_MinistryThe author wrote this book about ministry, especially the pastoral ministry, as he understood it through his interpretations of Scriptures and also through personal experience. The 14 chapters of his book give a vivid account of what it should be for a person who wants to serve God wholeheartedly. It is also an account of what a person would very likely encounter and experience during a life-time of ministering to others. The 14 chapters address the following issues in profound ways: the need to identify people to whom one minsters, spiritual empowerment for ministry, the importance of recognizing God’s affirmation of us in Christ, the significance of retreating from ministry activity periodically, affirming the will of God, being saturated in Scripture for godly ministry, “facing wild animals”( or opponents to ministry); bearing good news, growing a team of leaders, discipling younger leaders, sending disciples into ministry, ministering to the sick and demon possessed, visiting homes and prayer.

His approach in every chapter of this book is first looking at how Jesus and his first disciples conducted themselves in that particular area of concern, then illustrating the theme from great biographies and from his own active life lived in that area. Then he would close the chapter by developing sensible- if not always comfortable, advice for ministry. The strength of Fernando’s approach is that it is unabashedly about the heart and the character of the minister, understanding that practical tips and steps won’t matter much if they do not come from an inner life attuned to God’s Spirit and bound to Christ. He writes: You will see that most of the ministry basics discussed here have to do with personal technique today, and technique is important… But I believe the greatest crisis facing Christian leadership today concerns lifestyle—always the burning issue. The well-known evangelist D.L. Moody is reported to have said that he had more trouble with D.L. Moody that with any other person he met! (page 14).

While never acerbic and always pastoral, Fernando is critical of many contemporary models of church growth and outreach which he considers to be sub or even anti-biblical because they stress sociological methodology over biblical strategies. One such passage deserves full quotation.” We are seeing more and more people today who are moved to churches ‘where they feel comfortable.’ When did comfort become such a high value in ministry and church life? Was it when we left the path of biblical Christianity? The gospel is too radical and the needs of the world too urgent for us ever to be comfortable! But many Christians today have come to think that a major goal of the church is to entertain people and supply them with services that they want, such as a good youth program or music program. In such an environment, we are going to see people moving to churches where they are comfortable. The result will be that churches are going to miss out on some vital sources of enrichment through discomfort. They will become unhealthy by missing out on biblical wholeness. Biblical churches always are uncomfortable places because they are always looking for biblical wholeness.” (page 197).

I have not detected any parts where he contradicted himself. His style is quite readable as he provides ample headings and sub headings to various themes he is elaborating. However, his subject treatment requires careful and insightful reading to truly understand his viewpoints. It is not a book that one can read quickly in one sitting because each topic is a separate entity by itself and needs some analysis to see interconnectivity. Jesus Driven Ministry encourages and proclaims just what the title says: ministering out of the overflow of a heart after Christ’s. Fernando writes: when we linger in his presence, we deepen our intimacy with Him, and this means that we can represent Him better when we minister.

And isn’t that what it is all about in ministry- representing Jesus? Any minister who wishes to represent Jesus must be prepared to suffer as He suffered, and be led just as He was led by the Holy Spirit, and be obedient just as He was obedient to the Father. It is a powerful book and should be recommended reading for everyone who wants to be a disciple of Jesus, and not only for those in pastoral ministry.

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