Thursday, September 15, 2016

Evaluating a Ministry, Part 1

This week, while helping a student process some of her classwork, I was asked how to evaluate a ministry. It is a good question – a very good question. Before I introduce how I will share my thoughts on this matter, let me share how I answered her question. I used a technique often used by Jesus – I asked her a question. The words were simple to say, but the answer involves much more. The question:

Was Jesus’ ministry a failure?

This blog is available for anyone to read, but addresses Christian perspectives on matters, so I realize that most people who read it are likely to say they are Christian, believe the Bible, etc. With that fact acknowledged, most of those readers probably jumped to answer the question with an emphatic, “No! But I want to us consider that our answer must depend on the context of the question.

If the question is asked of a devout Christian in the 21st Century, the answer is “No! But what if we asked a Pharisee who was living during the time of Jesus ministry? What if we asked one a few select Pharisees (those numbered among the 3000 souls added) on the day of Pentecost after Peter’s sermon? What if we asked the Sanhedrin when Jesus hung on the cross? As with any conversation, context determines meaning. That is true of the Bible, and it is true of the questions we ask of it, and the answers that are provided. The same is also true when we seek to evaluate a ministry today.

Ultimately, the answer to the student’s question involves a couple of ideas –expectations and perspective. Over the next four weeks, I plan to provide a glimpse into how various perspectives will lead to different conclusions, using Mark 8 (primarily) to evaluate the ministry of Jesus. After providing a look at the various perspectives, I will share the benefit of having clear expectations, and then conclude the series in a seventh, and final, post.

In many ways, I regret having to space out the posts, but the practice is not uncommon in a series, and as I evaluate my schedule and own ministry responsibilities, it is necessary. My hope is that the series will be beneficial and that by the conclusion of the series you will be equipped to better understand why evaluations are necessary. I imagine we will all have an understanding of why good evaluations are often elusive as well.

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