Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ministry in the Middle

Today I had a revelation about why real ministry is so hard. It is hard because it involves living in constant tension. It is what I am beginning to call “ministry in the middle.” Ministry in the middle requires that you stand treacherously in the middle of a four quadrant plane and attempt to balance seemingly opposite forces delicately so as to be both effective and faithful.

The first balancing act is between sound, orthodox theology and pragmatism. To do ministry in our postmodern, deconstructed culture there must be a balance found between right teaching (orthodoxy) and practicality. If one errs on the side of being overly traditional, the messages and ministries of the congregation are completely irrelevant to the community. On the other hand, if one sacrifices foundational beliefs to connect with the community, then the integrity of the community is at stake. Real ministry has to be both theologically grounded and practically designed.

The second set of scales balances the mysterious and transformational nature of the sacrament with the desire to be culturally relevant. If you become overly focused on the mysterious and sacramental nature of ministry, you loose all contact with the world beyond your monastic walls. On the other hand, if you become so culturally relevant and “hip” that you loose all sense of mystery because your are busy being “in the world” you loose footing on your faith and end up doing ministry by holy sound “to do” lists and end up with a self-help philosophy rather than a transcendent faith.

So we stand in the middle. Being pulled by four forces that we must hold in tension. Keep the faith and hold fast to ministry in the middle.


Gracious God of tensions who lived in divine tension give me strength to be both theologically sound and practical, to be both sacramental and relevant so that Your Son Jesus might reach me and mine for You. In the name of the Savior who held humanity and divinity in tension I pray. Amen.

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