Next week I am presenting the Beeson Preaching Series at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky. It's my first visit and I look forward to this new opportunity. This series takes the form of three successive seminary chapel services as well as seminar sessions. It's a special privilege to have three teaching times clustered like this, addressing future Christian leaders.
Given a blank sheet, I have been thinking of some of the issues that trouble me about Christian ministry - things that we can sometimes overlook or trivialize. Where are the greatest dangers for Christian leaders? My preparation has focused on three issues, each of which will be unpacked in narrative texts (all found in John's gospel).
First, SELF-IMPORTANCE. In the light of John 3: 22-36 I shall develop the ministry perspective which sees the totality of my gifts, vocation, faith and even boldness as utterly dependent on Jesus Christ. Second, SELF-SERVICE with the radical perspective that Jesus Christ gives in the upper room in John 13: 1-17 by washing feet and asking disciples:'Do you understand what I have done for you?' Third, SELF-LOVE as that epic story of Peter's restoration, John 21: 15-19 takes us to the fundamental role of intentional love for Christ and others.
The overall theme is: Disturbing Perspectives on Ministry. My prayer is that I may be used by God to challenge all of us about fresh possibilities to be lived by his grace. There's nothing more damaging to Christian leadership than self-importance, self-service and self-love, and nothing more radical than the contrasting kingdom way Jesus makes possible by his Spirit. I will let you know how preparation comes to fruition! And, special thanks to those who will be praying for the event, February 19-21st.