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Foundations of Ministry Review

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Eric Meyer

CMN 7713: Biblical Foundations Of Ministry & Leadership

John Brown University

Professor: Dr. Robert V. Cupp

Sept. 23rd, 2008

Foundations of Ministry

An Introduction To Christian Education For A New Generation

Michael J. Anthony, Baker Books, 1992

SUMMARY

 

 Author and Background

Foundations of Ministry was written and edited by Michael J. Anthony.  He relied upon considerable help from additional authors, as well as the Christian Education faculty of Biola University/Talbot School of Theology. 

            Mr. Anthony is the associate provost and professor of Christian Education at the above mentioned universities.  He holds a Ph. D. in educational administration from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph. D in education from Claremont Graduate School.  He is a consultant to numerous nonprofit boards and is an active speaker as Christian education conferences around the world.

Purpose of the Book

 

“It is my desire to present an overview of the discipline (Christian Education) to the student who is new to the field of Christian Education.  This book is not intended to be the final word.  An introductory text should provide the reader with a concise look at the subject and then point him or her to additional resources for further reading and investigation.” (9)

Basic Contents/Summarization

This book is a very comprehensive look at the issues that affect almost all aspects of Christian Education in American churches today.  The authors and editor work from the point of view that these issues must be viewed through the lenses of scripture, biblical history, and changing culture.  Most of the chapters begin with a history of the issue, discuss the scriptural basis for the author’s perspective, and address cultural concerns of which the reader needs to be aware.

The book is divided into four sections.  The first section defines the foundational principles from which the authors will work to advance their theories of education in the later sections.  For example, in chapter 1, the author states, “According to scripture, the church is an organism.  It is the body of Christ incarnate in the world today.” (15)   By the end of this section, the importance of theology, church history, personal and corporate ministry philosophy, human development, psychological foundations, cross-cultural perspectives, and the issues intrinsic in morals and faith development have been defined.

Once the authors have defined their scriptural, historical, and cultural foundations, they define the methods to utilize in addressing different ministries, and the benefits of those ministries to the church body.  The second section discusses how to minister to different age groups and single adults.  The third section teaches organizational and administrative procedures, and the last section discusses specialized ministries.

Strengths/Weaknesses

 

This book is an outstanding resource.  There are few weaknesses that I found, and many strengths.  Since there are so few weaknesses in my opinion, I will begin with those issues.

For such an amazingly easy to read text, the initial appearance is very technical.  While this may be a petty complaint, I hope that potential readers are not dissuaded from picking up the book because of the cover.  For example, the author is listed boldly on the cover as, “Michael J. Anthony, and the Christian Education Faculty of Biola University/Talbot School of Theology.  That gives me the impression of a text aimed at scholars, yet the target market is readers new to Christian Education. 

A second weakness comes from the chapter called Counseling Ministries in the Church.  One of the key messages iterated throughout the book is that ministry needs to be done in a team and in a small group environment.  Here is one of the fundamental comments in the book from my opinion, “Although 42% of people (needing counseling help) turn (first) to their pastors, pastors say they are not trained to handle the complex problems coming to them and are burning out from their counseling load…Pastors need to sort out what they are called to do: preach, facilitate equipping the body, counsel, administrate, or develop a helping ministry.” (338)  This chapter goes on to teach the fundamentals of hiring or teaching counselors.  This is an amazingly complex issue that can not be handled easily by personnel not equipped to handle this ministry.  I am surprised, and a bit disappointed that there is so much detail on how to train (especially when the pastors themselves are not trained), but no mention is made of outside resources such as the Stephen Ministry.

One of the key strengths of this book is its organization.  Anyone interested in an aspect of Christian Education will probably find useful information contained within.  The authors do not just define terms, they build a strong biblical foundation for their beliefs and teaching methods, describe the benefits and challenges involved in each aspect of education, and give concrete examples of how to design an education program from scratch.  Also explained are ways to prioritize limited resources, and address the issues most critical to a particular congregation.  Since this text is not intended to be all things to all readers, very detailed sections of additional resources are listed after each chapter. 

This book is also a resource that helps the reader to understand what key ministry needs their church might be missing.  The section that describes the benefits of missionary programs and camping programs are perfect examples.  Many people hear the word “missionary” in a negative light, but the chapter Mission Education in the Local Church describes in detail how mission work can strengthen the local church.  Regarding camping, on page 295, the authors say that 25% of all Christians were introduced to Christ at a camp.  If a church does not have a camping program, this chapter goes into detail on how to build one.

Potential Value/Uses in Real Life Ministry

This is a book that ought to be in every minister’s (lay or professional) library.  It is a “ministry filter” that the will point out areas of weakness in a church’s education programs.  The career professional may already understand most of the issues defined in this book, but there are so many solid examples of how to run ministries that there will probably be new ideas for even the most senior minister.

The culture issues our society faces are integrated throughout this book, and are defined as critical to church health.  “It has been estimated that a culture undergoes significant change every three to seven years.  If this is true, the church that stays on the cutting edge will be the one that understands why and how change is needed.” (68)  That “why and how” are interwoven throughout the book.

The authors have included many resources through out the book that can immediately be used to strengthen education ministries.  Key examples are the “Fowler’s Seven Stages of Faith Development”, and Age/Ministry Implications Charts which define the developmental stages of people throughout their life spans, and then offer ministry implications for each age.  If you need help with job descriptions, there are even several examples.  If a minister wants to study a particular educational ministry in depth, many additional resources are listed at the end of each chapter.

Relevance to Course

 

This book is directly relevant to the coursework.  Many of the exact concepts that we are learning are addressed, such as Getz’s lenses.  In fact, much of the book appears to be written with Getz’s views in mind.  The 2 core ministry functions of evangelism and edification are also discussed.  Philosophy of Ministry is a concept that is fundamental to the structure of this book.  In many of the chapters, one of the key steps in determining how to design an education program is to first address the church’s or the teacher’s philosophy of ministry.

While not explicitly stated in the book, the concepts of function and form are described throughout.  The first section of the book focuses on key functions of the church, while the remainder describes forms of education.  The authors do go to great lengths to discuss the importance of the essential functions of exalting, evangelism, establishing (teaching maturity), encouraging, equipping, and empowering.  They use the acronym WIFE  to describe the key edification functions where W = worship, I = instruction, F = fellowship, and E = expression, and then describe evangelism as an outreach function.

While the authors describe their intent to be teaching the fundamentals of Christian Education, they know they are speaking to the leaders of the church who will be establishing these programs.  Since they have an audience of leaders, much attention is given to the needs of leaders, and the training of future leaders.  There are no throw away chapters here, all have key insights from a leadership perspective.

The rest of this presentation highlights key quotes from each chapter.  My intention is to give the reader a flavor of the text prior to making the purchase commitment. 

INTRODUCTION:

 

“Discipleship is at the heart of Christian Education, and the process of becoming a disciple of men and women is deeply entrenched in the contents of this book.  It is my hope that the message contained in these passages will strengthen the reader to be a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”

PART ONE.  FOUNDATIONS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY

 

Chapter 1:  Putting Ministry in Perspective

 

“If not careful, the business procedures of the church can so overwhelm believers that they view the church as nothing more than an organization with a Christian emphasis.  But the church is not an organization.  According to scripture, the church is an organism.  It is the body of Christ incarnate in the world today.” (15)

“The Christian Education ministry of the local church must be comprehensive and balanced.  It should take into consideration the outreach needs of its community as well as the growth needs of its local congregation.” (23)

“No church should try to be all things to all people” (23)

“This organization of themes is called Bible doctrines.  Knowing how the church has historically interpreted these themes and applied them to ministry is important for it serves as a backdrop for present and future ministry programming.” (21)

“The church must be both culturally relevant and socially sensitive.  It should base its ministries on evident needs and find a balance between both evangelism and edification.  Those who would want to model our ministries today after the Jerusalem church do not understand that social, geographical and cultural issues must be taken into consideration if contemporary ministry is going to be relevant and meaningful.” (23)

Chapter 2:  The Theology of Christian Education

“There doesn’t seem to be much of a relationship between the loci of theology and age-graded curriculum or behavioral objectives.  As a result, in Christian education, theology is usually related only to the content of instruction.  It is infrequently employed as a guide for Christian Education theory and practice.  This is unfortunate, for theology is vitally related to what Christian Education has been, is, and should be.” (24)

“In the same way that a judge in a court of law applies historical legal precedent to analogous cases before him, students of God’s Word can apply revealed directives to current life circumstances….The “historical directives” regarding facts to be believed, perspectives to adopt, and actions to perform that were given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit can be applied with confidence to similar circumstances today.” (33)

“Our commitment must be to the truth that produces faith, hope, and love in the development of a biblical foundation for Christian Education.” (34)

Chapter 3: The History of Christian Education

“From the beginning, the existence of the (human) race depended upon a philosophy of education that required man and woman to listen, to learn, and to act upon knowledge acquired by revelation from God.” (37)

“The man also chose to act upon “gained” rather than revealed wisdom, and a form of “enlightenment” occurred in which the eyes of man and woman were opened to all the created world has to offer, but were closed to the intimate communion that had existed between themselves and the only source of wisdom (Gen. 3:8-24).” (37)

“Every age has its Babylons.  There has been no apparent limit to the alternative interpretations of reality and wisdom with which godly educators have had to contend through the ages.” (38)

“The Law was God telling man how He would act if He were to become a man.  Later, in the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ, this law was not abolished.  Rather, it was fulfilled (Matt. 5:17) as “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14).” (40)

“The challenge of the twenty-first century is for a mature evangelical Christian Education to remain true to the authority of the Scriptures.  The temptation to be psychologically correct and methodologically correct must be balanced with a commitment to the values of the Word of God…But care must be taken to maintain allegiance to the will of the only source of wisdom.” (52)

Chapter 4: Philosophical Foundations of Ministry

“Simply stated, a philosophy of ministry explains why you are doing what you are doing.  The philosophy also generates answers to questions such as, “What is our vision for this ministry?” “What methods are appropriate to use?” and “By what criteria will we determine our ministries effectiveness?” (54)

“If a church or pastor can articulate their philosophical foundations, they will have at least eight advantages over a church or pastor who can not.” (55-59)

·         Determine the scope of its ministry

·         Continuously reevaluate its corporate experience in light of its message

·         Can evaluate its ministry in light o criteria rather than popularity

·         More likely to keep its ministry balanced and focused on essentials

·         Can mobilize a greater potion of its congregation as ministers

·         Determine the relative merits of a prospective ministry

·         Can be a clear, attractive alternative community to people used to systemic failure

·         Can choose to cooperate or not with other churches or parachurch operations

“It has been estimated that a culture undergoes significant change every three to seven years.  If this is true, the church that stays on the cutting edge will be the one that understands why and how change is needed.” (68)

Chapter 5: Foundations of Human Development

“Life changing effectiveness depends in large measure on a leader’s knowledge of the individuals who are being taught or led.” (70)

“Developmental research helps us understand the way in which God has designed the life patterns of His created beings” (71)

“The “tried-and-true” methods of telling and lecturing have minimal impact on learner development.  But student participation in learning experiences influences not only cognitive development.  It is also a means by which biblical truth is processed for life action. (78)

“One effective method is to ask questions that “haunt” the learner, that continue to pester the mind long after the teaching hour has concluded.” (78)

“For example, if we know from research theories that most men undergo a period of intense personal self-evaluation during the mid-life years, the church can respond by providing opportunities to help them in this time of transition.”  (86)

Chapter 6: Psychological Foundations of Teaching in the Local Church

“Learning can be defined as a change in behavior resulting from experience…For example, memorizing facts without comprehending the material would not be considered learning.” (88)

“Effective teachers know best how to determine learning outcomes and how to structure the learning situation so as to facilitate the accomplishment of those outcomes.” (89)

“(Bruner) emphasized that learners should understand how fragments of knowledge fit together in a structured whole rather than simply memorize isolated facts.”

“Good quality expository teaching involves presenting what is to be learned to the learner in more or les final form.”  (96)

“One of the most complete educational psychology books ever written is the Bible…God has revealed in His word hundreds of principles which can be applied to the teaching-learning process.”  (98)

Chapter 7: Cross Cultural Perspective in Christian Education

“The purpose of this chapter is to open the reader to the challenge and the opportunity for cross-cultural teaching, to show what it is and what it should not be, and to give helpful insights into what must be learned to become an effective cross-cultural educator.”  (103)

“The Gospel ties all cultures together.  The Christian is in a good position to pass the crest of cultural barriers because the love of God is transcultural.  God is beyond culture and time.” (106)

“As Christian educators we should strive to communicate a biblical worldview to our students and not one wrapped in the values and views of our culture.” (113)

“The greatest transcultural language is love.  Students who know that they are loved will be receptive to the message being communicated.” (113)

Chapter 8: Moral and Faith Development in Christian Education

“Rather, God gave scripture for a purpose that encompasses far more than information.  It was intended to change lives…Scripture consistently points us towards personal growth.”  (115)

“Mature spiritual adulthood is a product of reflective prayer, study of scripture, and other experiences in which there is thoughtful, intentional application to the issues of life.  While scripture provides us with understanding of Christlike maturity, theories of moral and faith development help us perceive the process of growth to maturity.” (116)

“Development takes place in a context that is social.  Interaction with others is essential for movement to higher stages.  Involved is a process known as role-taking, or the ability to see things through the eyes of others.” (122)

“Dilemmas may be used with probing questions to stimulate development.  Many biblical stories present dilemma-like situations that may be explored.”  (126)

“Still, the goal is not for all people to reach the final stage of faith.  Instead, it is for each person to be as open to the Spirit of God as possible, within the structures of one’s current stage.”  (130)

“Without a community of believers that is interactive, apart from multiple models and confrontation in love where needed, development is unlikely.  Of particular importance is the family in which early Christian experiences deeply affect growth in faith.  Similarly, exposure to older Christians in intergenerational experiences helps provide a longing for the wisdom of mature faith.”  (132)

PART TWO.  CHRISTIAN EDUCATION MINSTRIES ACROSS A LIFESPAN

Chapter 9:  The Christian Education of Children

“Children’s ministry is expanding to offer innovative programming approaches which take into consideration current trends without sacrificing unchanging biblical truths.”  (137)

“To thrive, not just survive, we must clear the way for the leaders of tomorrow to take risks, to dream big, and prepare with vigor, intelligence, and wisdom.”

“Programs designed apart from need and sheltered from a regular discipline of critical evaluation have a tendency to stagnate and take up space in a handbook.” (155)

“Because Americans perceive Christian churches to have a values filter through which all activities pass, many adults (especially those with children) will depend upon the church to provide morally acceptable forms of entertainment – something which will be increasingly difficult to find…” (156)

Chapter 10: The Christian Education of Youth

“For the first time in their lives, teenagers are able to think abstractly and hypothetically.  They will need much help and guidance as they ask many questions beginning with the words, “Why…?” or “What if…?” (162)

“If a church does not have a significant core of adult volunteers ready to participate, that church is not yet ready to start a youth ministry.” (165)

“Many youth workers encourage their students to share their faith in Christ at school and elsewhere without giving them the training in how to do that.” (166)

“The youth of America are in need of the message of the Gospel.  In a very real sense, the future of America depends on our ability to shape and influence the moral and ethical fabric of this great American resource.” (168)

Chapter 11: The Christian Education of Adults

“Where are those involved in church or parachurch ministries going to get their training for ministry?  If they don’t get it in the adult education ministry, they may be nothing more than spiritual children raising other children.”  (171)

“Ultimately, success in adult education and in the church as a body can be measured by how many people are launched into ministry.  The alternative is what many evangelical churches are struggling with in communities today – wounded consumers of church services who never hearl and never impact their neighbors for Christ.”  (172)

“But the support of the family of God is crucial for further spiritual growth, especially the formation of spiritual values…New Christians need a network of Christians in which to develop long term fellowship, interaction, and trust.”  (174)

“The successful Christian educator of the next century will be one who is able to understand the current needs and issues facing adults and integrate changeless biblical imperatives with ever changing ministry methods.”  (183)

Chapter 12:  Ministry to Families in the Local Church

“What we once considered the “traditional family” with a husband, wife (who is a homemaker), and 2 children, reflects only 7% of U.S. households.” (185)

“There are very few resources available for the average parent to use in self-education on parenting skills…This is where the church can truly make a significant impact in the community.”  (185)

“Myron Chartier has suggested that if God’s actions toward Israel are to be taken as a model, parenting of children will be characterized by loving, caring, responding, disciplining, giving, respecting, knowing, and forgiving.” (186)

“The church needs to become a community to play a key role in the reestablishment of the primacy of family relationships.  This will require discerning health from dysfunction, discovering strengths and weaknesses, and determining how families can best be met at their point of need and integrated into the church family.” (198)

Chapter 13: Ministry to Single Adults

“All across the world, adults are choosing to remain single or reenter the singles’ world in larger numbers than ever before.  Many churches in turn, have responded by creating a pastoral staff position to specifically address the unique need and concerns of the single adult.”  (200)

“When single adults own their ministry, it will be fruitful and purposeful.” (205)

“Once one has identified the type of singles to be targeted and realized the issues involved in such a ministry, it’s imperative to think through the philosophy of ministry that the church will use.  No successful ministry just happens.”  (206)

“The biblical model for designing a ministry is always to first identify the needs, and then plan a strategy to meet those needs through the resources that are available.” (209)

PART THREE. ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION

Chapter 14: Organizational Structures for Christian Education Ministry

 “Ted Ward suggests two purposes of Christian Education in particular: facilitation of spiritual development and encouragement of the gifts of the Spirit in such ways that the people of God become effective in ministry.” (214)

“The discussions in the paragraphs above become clearer when we realize that the church is both an organization and an organism. (216)

 “Christ was the most effective executive in the history of the human race.  The results He achieved are second to none.  In only three short years, He defined a mission and formed strategies and plans to carry it out.  With a staff of 12 unlikely men He organized Christianity, which has grown to have 1.5 billion proponents today…” (217)

Chapter 15: The Roles and Responsibilities of Christian Education Personnel

“Most experienced ministry professionals recognize the danger of being too task-oriented instead of focusing on people.  They also understand the feeling of being out of balance with the two.” (229)

“God’s design is that the church functions as people minister to people.  Our job is to equip them to do just that.” (231)

“If a person takes a position for which he or she has neither the skill nor the interest, the task will become a burden rather than a fulfilling ministry.” (237)

“The worker is dependent upon God.  “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Not some things, or a few things, but nothing. (239)

Chapter 16: Organizing Christian Education Ministry in the Small Church

“The goal of any church in organizing the Christian Education ministry, regardless of its size, should be to meet as many needs as possible given the available resources.” (242)

“This chapter will describe two basic approaches to the organization of a Christian education ministry and help to determine which approach will likely offer the best possibility for helping the church identify those needs which are apparent in the community as well as in the congregation.” (242)

“The small church, along with its church board and staff, should concentrate on the advantages it offers, regardless of size and concentrate on building educational ministries which will enhance those advantages.” (250)

Chapter 17: Leadership Recruitment and Training

“There are examples nationwide of churches which have started with minimal finances, limited resources, and inadequate facilities.  Some of these churches have grown into very successful ministries because they concentrate on people ministering to people.”  (255)

“The question is not so much where do I find volunteers, as it is, how do I motivate some of these talented and gifted people to commit themselves to ministry.” (256)

“Volunteer leaders and workers need to be trained in a variety of areas to be completely competent in their areas of ministry…(they) need to be trained in nine basic skill areas to assure full competence in ministry.” (261)

Chapter 18: The Role of Women in Leadership

“One of the major factors causing the church to rethink its position on women in leadership roles has been the demographic changes that have taken place in recent years…over 75% of the overall work in the local church is done by women…” (268)

“As part of Christian growth, scripture indicates that leadership in ministry is characteristic of spiritual maturity (Col. 3:16; Eph. 4:15-16; Heb. 5:11-14).  To deny women a teaching role in ministry would be to deny them a vital component of their Christian growth.” (274)

“By passing the problem passages through the lens of culture and historical setting, a different interpretation is developed from the traditional paradigm.” (277)

Chapter 19: Legal Issues in Christian Education Ministry

“The legal issues to be discussed here are those most likely to be faced by workers in the various Christian Education functions of a church’s ministry.”

“There is virtually nothing a church can do to keep a determined litigant from suing for civil damages.  However, there are many suggestions contained in this chapter that will enable a church to have some confidence that the plaintiff who files a lawsuit against it cannot win the suit in court.” (290)

PART FOUR. SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL MINISTRIES

Chapter 20: The Ministry of Christian Camping

“The outdoor environment is a powerful setting for spiritual birth and formation.  Camps are places for life-changing decisions and growth.  It has been estimated that one fourth of all believers began their personal relationships with Christ at camp.” (295)

“The actual camp planning process, as has been mentioned before, must begin with the goals for the educational ministry based on biblical imperatives and the needs of the campers.  Specific objectives should be chosen for a particular camp experience based on these general goals.  The philosophy of the camp (centralized vs. decentralized) and the type of camp should be selected based on the probability that the objectives could be achieved in that setting.” (306)

Chapter 21: Parachurch Ministries

White, in his thorough book on the subject, defines parachurch as, “Any spiritual ministry whose organization is not under the control or authority of a local congregation.” (310)

“This chapter will discuss some of the key issues concerning the church/parachurch relationship, examine characteristics of parachurch agencies, categorize the various types of ministries, and provide insight for those interested in parachurch vocations.” (310)

“The needs of this lost world cry out for attention. Obviously, there is a shortage of resources to meet each of these global needs, and it is in a partnership relationship between church and parachurch ministries that we will be able to address these needs.” (326)

Chapter 22: Counseling Ministry in the Church

“Too often the church has looked outside of itself to help those struggling emotionally.  This has resulted in a separation between faith development and emotional development.” (330)

“Because there are deficits in each one of us, the work of the church is far greater than any ne or several leaders can fill.” (331)

“Counseling in the church is helping people understand and accept their strengths and deficits so that they can minister out of their strengths and be ministered by the body to fill their deficits.” 334)

“The process of counseling is the process of redemption (Col. 1:13-23) or the process of buying back, making reconciliation possible.  There are three stages to this process: relationship, realization, and responsibility.” (335)

Chapter 23: Mission Education in the local Church

“The local church, therefore, is the hearth out of from which the servants of the Word are to be nurtured, encouraged, and sent.” (345)

“It is risky to teach about missions because one will have to practice it – the true stewardship of the teacher’s life.  Stewardship is, after all, simply shorthand for “God will one day hold you accountable for all of the money, talent, and brains He has given to you.” (345)

“The church will never have a successful mission program until it involves all of the congregation, but this is no small task.” (353)

Chapter 24: Special Education Ministries

“This chapter is designed to provide the reader with a brief overview of the classification and characteristics of mental impairment and what the church can do to minister to both individuals who are impaired and also their families.” (360)

Chapter 25: Public Education, Christian Schools, and Home Schooling

“This chapter will provide the reader with an overview of the three major approaches to education that are prevalent in within our society today.  We will begin with a brief look at their historical development and an overview of their philosophical presuppositions.  In addition arguments for and against each system will be provided, and lastly, criteria will be established to serve as a basis for determining quality control of each system.” (379)


 


 

           

           

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