only by His Word

If we turn aside from the Word, as I have just now said, though we may strive with strenuous haste, yet, since we have got off the track, we shall never reach the goal. For we should so reason that the splendour of the divine countenance, which even the apostle calls “unapproachable”, is for us like an inexplicable labyrinth unless we are conducted into it by the thread of the Word; so that it is better to limp along this path than to dash with all speed outside it.

Institutes 1.6.6

Ministry can be incredibly frustrating sometimes. I’m not talking about the kiddos themselves with their apathy and eyes-glued-on-screen-ness, but about ministry partners — I don’t understand how a person can not appear for any meetings, not participate in WhatsApp conversations (look, I get it, I hate WhatsApp group convos too, but it’s basic courtesy) about serious matters, not be involved in anything until it affects his precious sub-ministry, but have the energy to complain and whine privately (via WhatsApp — the irony) to the ministry head about problems he sees in the ministry or decisions that we have made . I thought most people outgrew that in primary school, but apparently not.

His main concern was ‘joy’, his euphemism for ‘fun’. I’m not blind to the fact that our sessions can be dry and boring to the typical youth. Or that youths might be drawn to certain kinds of music and being in a band. Or that nobody’s idea of a good time is to sit down and listen to an adult yak for 45 minutes.

But I am a firm believer that what you draw people with is what you draw people to. If you think that guitars and drums and fun and games are what bring people to a church (even though churches seemed to be doing fine before the 20th century), and that’s how you try to attract and keep them, then that’s exactly why they stay, assuming they stay. And let’s be realistic: the church is never going to be more fun, more hip, more happening, have better music, be more up-to-date than the outside world, for the simple reason that that is not its purpose. We do not compete with the world on the world’s terms.

What we do have, is the Word of God. And one thing that the ministry partners have worked really hard to do is to make that the foundation for all that we do. Our application may not be ideal, and we still have have much to learn about making our teaching more relevant and applicable. (I, for one, am guilty of lecturing and delving into obscure theological points). But we do take this ministry seriously, knowing that we oversee a flock bought with Christ’s blood (Acts 20:28), that the command to preach His word all the time (2 Tim 4:2) applies as much to the young as the old, that only God’s word (Heb 4:12), not our actions/activities changes hearts.

Better to limp along this path than to dash with all speed outside it. I stand by that.

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