Ministry is simple. Not easy — it’s anything but easy. But it’s simple.
In Colossians 1:24-29, Paul describes the content, method, and goal of his ministry.
The content: Jesus. “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom…” (Colossians 1:28). I learned the importance of preaching the big idea from Haddon Robinson. If Paul had one big idea, it was about who Jesus is and what he did. Paul expressed Jesus in the context of all of Scripture, “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (1:26). His message was “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27). Although the message is focused, it’s also deep. You could spend an eternity exploring who Jesus is and how he changes everything, and you’d only be getting started.
The method: Paul worked hard at presenting Jesus in the context of all of Scripture. A columnist was once asked if writing a daily column was hard. ”Why, no,” he replied. “You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.” If you asked Paul if preaching the gospel is hard, he might answer the same way. All it takes is a willingness to suffer to proclaim Christ’s sufferings (1:24) along with lots of hard work (1:29). But once Paul understood Jesus as the fulfilment of Scripture, he was willing to pay the price so that more people knew who Jesus is.
The goal: to “present everyone mature in Christ” (1:28). Our goal focuses on eternity. We are in the business of preparing people to stand before Jesus.
Life is complex. We face endless demands. The older I get, the more I realize how much I have to learn, how even the smartest among us can only master at best a small number of topics. I often feel like I’m just scratching the surface of Scripture.
On top of that, people are demanding. We face an endless barrage of needs, personalities, and circumstances. It’s hard to keep up.
It can be tempting to think that we need a complex philosophy of ministry. We don’t. We need a lifelong commitment to the simplicity of the gospel.
It can be tempting to think that we need a complex philosophy of ministry. We don’t. We need a lifelong commitment to the simplicity of the gospel. Proclaim Jesus as the fulfillment of Scripture and the Savior of the world. Work hard and suffer to do so. Aim to love the people God has given you. Work at getting them ready for when they will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Devote your life to this, and you will find that the simplicity of this focus will lead you to a depth that can’t be found anywhere else.
I stood before a church I used to pastor. “If I had to start over again as your pastor I would do two things,” I told them. “I focus on preaching Jesus and loving you well. That’s it.” No frills. No distractions. I think that kind of ministry could lead to something.
I can’t go back and pastor that church again, but I can maintain that focus in my current assignment.
Return again to what’s simple and essential. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Center your life and ministry on him. Pay the price. Prepare people for eternity. Repeat. I can’t think of a better way to live.