Whatever ministry we are involved in, there are numerous ways we could pursue improvement. Preaching, for example, is a combination of dozens of factors working together each time we preach. Evangelism, likewise, is a combination of many many factors at work in each encounter. Whatever our ministry, potential areas for improvement are manifold.
I want to suggest one improvement that should be right near the top of our list. This will help if we preach, if we are an evangelist, an apologist, a parent, a teacher, a children’s worker, etc.
The improvement is connected to faith. Not so much our faith, but theirs. And not so much the amount of it, but its object. Lots of Christian ministry is invested into encouraging people to have and exercise more faith. But what people really need is to catch a better glimpse of the Christ who is worth believing in. Let me put it like this:
Present the object of faith better, don’t just pressure people to have better faith.
It is easy to turn up the pressure. Whether we are preaching to a church, witnessing to a non-believer, coaching our children, or whatever, we can easily put the burden on them to believe, to believe more, to believe better, etc.
Once we see that faith is a response to something, then the focus can shift. Instead of the pressure being on them to work up more faith, the privilege is with us to better present Christ so that they might believe. Don’t tell them to inflate their response, look for ways to offer a better something to respond to.
What might this involve?
1. You have to be infected to be infectious – do you love Jesus? Since love, like faith, is a response, then the only way to increase your contagiousness is to spend time with him for yourself. Like Mary, we need to sit at Jesus’ feet and let him minister to us before we try to minister for him.
2. Evaluate the content of your communication. In column A, notice all the content in what you say that presents Christ/God/Gospel, etc. In column B, notice all the content that points listeners to themselves, their effort, their discipline etc. Where are you investing your minutes as you preach, speak, teach, etc.? Some preachers offer so little of Christ in what they say that it is shocking anyone ever walks away thinking about anything other than themselves.
3. Present the person, not just points of fact. Perhaps you say a lot about Jesus, but what you say is somewhat impersonal. Imagine I was telling you about my wife and all I ever mentioned was a list of facts: her height, her hair colour, her shoe size. That would have far less impact than speaking of her character, her values, her worth in my eyes. The same is true of Christ. Some Christians only seem to speak of points of fact from the creed, but never speak of the person they are in relationship with. People are more likely to respond with relational faith to a Christ that is more than mere data.
4. Pray about it. This is not first and foremost an encouragement to pursue improvement as some sort of solo exercise. Nobody cares more about presenting Christ well than the Father and the Holy Spirit. Don’t just try to do better at this, but instead speak with God about your ministry. This is an improvement that you can be confident is in line with God’s will for you!
There are hundreds of ways to improve every ministry we are involved in. But it is hard to think of an improvement that has more than this one – to prayerfully ask God to help you present the object of faith more effectively for the sake of those who hear you.