What is the Essential Activity of Christian Ministry?
In Partial Fulfillment
Of the Requirements for the Course
EDUCATION, DISCIPLESHIP AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION1
SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES2
THE KEY PRIORITY IN CHURCH MINISTRY3
CONNECTION TO THE THREE AREAS OF WORSHIP3
The essential activity of Christian ministry is to know Christ and make Him known. As a follower of Jesus Christ, we are called upon to live a life worthy of bearing His name and to share the Gospel with those He brings us in contact with. Our purpose is three-fold: to teach the Bible for the listener to gain knowledge for the repentance of sins and spiritual growth, to nurture spiritual formation and to encourage service and ongoing discipleship.
Education, Discipleship and Spiritual Formation
Dr. Mitchell defines education as “the creative process of utilizing external and internal forces to facilitate the functions of teaching and training in promoting and attaining growth and development, enabling complete individuals to comprehend, contemplate, and contribute to their community and culture.” Dr. Dallas Willard, USC Philosophy professor, speaker and author describes being Jesus’ disciple in this way, “How the disciple lives naturally comes out of who the disciple is. As Jesus’ disciple, I am his apprentice in kingdom living. I am learning from him how to lead my life in the Kingdom of the Heavens as he would lead my life if he were I. It is my faith in him that led me to become his disciple. My confidence in him simply means that I believe that he is right about everything: that all that he is and says shows what life is at its best, what it was intended by God to be.” George Barna points out two critical elements of discipleship are becoming a fully committed follower of Christ and the desire to instill the passion and commitment for Christ in others. Spiritual Formation is best described in the tradition of Jesus Christ as the “process of transformation of the inmost dimension of the human being, the heart, which is the same as the spirit or will. It is being formed (really, transformed) in such a way that its natural expression comes to be the deeds of Christ done in the power of Christ.”
Similarities and Differences
It is obvious that the language of Christian education has much in common with spiritual formation. Both explore the ways believers are drawn to Christ. “Themes such as revelation, the role of the Bible, an immediate encounter with the living God, experience, discipleship, remembrance through life stories, encounters and relationships through life in community, spiritual guidance, and a surrender to the authority of God’s representation on earth—the incarnate Jesus the Christ” are all mentioned in the writings for these disciplines. However, “the element of intentionality and purpose for teaching and learning is unique to Christian education while such themes as the awareness of the true self (Keating, 1999), mystical encounters, and spiritual practices are distinguishing themes in spiritual formation”.
The Key Priority in Church Ministry
When comparing the information it is clear that they are all connected and work in perfect harmony with one another. Attempting one without the others would be pointless as components of each are found throughout the Bible. Jesus taught the Apostles to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all.” It is a command from Christ to make disciples. How do we do that? This is accomplished through Christian education and...