Chat in Corinth
'Have you heard about the latest Church Growth Model in Corinth? The latest preachers in Acro Creek think they've nailed success! O.K., it's a little alternative, and it's the opposite to what Paul said (but then again, for some strange reason, he seems to have cancelled his announced visit - some lame excuse about an unforeseen turn of events)! Yet, we cannot help but notice, it does seem very popular: it appears to be working! They've definitely had results! The crowds of pagans are flocking! They're going to extend their buildings! Even better, there's no suffering, so perhaps we should give it a go.'
Model for Ministry
If that was the chat in Corinth, it would explain Paul's loving determination to put the record straight, and turn Corinthians back to the Cross. Having explained the nature and glory and hope of the Ministry of the New Covenant, he commends his urgent appeal, by the model minister he is. Effectively, he says, 'this is how to do the work, this is the Christ's model for church growth', as we make our appeal, 2 Corinthians 5.20, 'Be reconciled to God.'
"We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed, but in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God" (2 Corinthians 6.3-4)
Checklist for Laborers
Then he goes on, in 2 Corinthians 6.4b-10, to enumerate the credentials that commend the true ministers of Christ - through faith, by grace, in Christ, they are the marks of the Spirit's work reproducing the death and life of Jesus in labors for the Gospel. This, Paul says, is the Church Growth Model that REALLY works!
- In much patience
- In tribulation
- In needs
- In distresses
- In stripes
- In imprisonments
- In tumults
- In labors
- In sleeplessness
- In fastings
- By purity
- By knowledge
- By long-suffering
- By kindness
- By the Holy Spirit
- By sincere love
- By the Word of Truth
- By the Power of God
- By the Armour of Righteousness on the right hand & the left
- By honor and dishonor
- By evil report and good report
- (Counted) as deceivers and yet (really) true
- As unknown and yet well-known
- As dying and behold we live
- As chastened and yet not killed
- As sorrowful yet always rejoicing
- As poor yet making many rich
- As having nothing yet possessing all things
Ministers and members are you embracing Messiah's Model? Is this not a pattern of ministry of which many of us fall short? Yet I suspect it is also true, as we see His reflection in us, we will obtain encouragement too (2 Corinthians 1.3-7), from the God of all comfort, as we continue, by grace, as servants of the Gospel.
Union and communion with Christ, therefore, should increasingly be our repeated focus of concentration. The traits in the list are the inevitable fruits, to greater or lesser degrees, of all who abide in the crucified, risen, Lord Jesus. Surely 'now is the time' to resurrect what is old and make it our New Model of Church Growth. Pray for His power to minister like the Master.
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