loren Eric Swanson: Teaching, Preaching and Healing

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Teaching, Preaching and Healing

"Jesus went thoughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 5:23.

When churches engage in ministry among the people as Jesus did many of the results that happened to Jesus happen to the church.
"News about him spread all over..." This is a passive, not active construction. Jesus had an interesting approach to publilcity. At least seven times in the gospels, after he changed someone's life he said, "Now don't tell anyone." When we do some good in the community we often want to be sure that somehow we get credit so we attach our church name on the goods we hand out or wear T-shirts with our church's name emblazoned on the back. Attaching our name to the event is often counter-productive in a couple of ways. First, it removes the mystery by answering the question too quickly. Remember good deeds almost always create good will and beg the questions "Who are you?" and "Why are you doing this?" Matthew 5:16 says that when people observe good deeds they glofify God. Giving the answer before the question is asked fills in the "glory gap" ("Who should be credited with this wonderful thing?") too quickly. It is with a bit of irony that not saying anything gets people talking more. "Do you know who did this wonderful thing?" "No, but go talk to that woman over there...I think she might know.

Second, when people see the church's name attached they think, "Oh, I see this is just some sort of PR deal or marketing campaign. It's a good one but it's still marketing." Many churches spend lots of money on publicity promoting their brand. What if for one year you had the goal to be in the paper every week but it would be from what others said about you--just from the good you were doing? In 2004, my church, Calvary Bible EFC of Boulder was named "Volunteer Organization of the Year" for the state of Colorado. Others nominated us. We didn't nominate ourselves.

"People brought to him all who were ill..." Even though Jesus had a three-fold ministry of teaching, preaching and healing, people brought people to Jesus based on the most basic of needs. In the 1940s Abraham Maslow described an interesting and useful diagram to describe a person's motivations. This is called "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs." At the bottom rung of the pyramid is physiological needs--the basic stuff we need to survive--air, water, food, etc. A person lacking these immediate needs will not be in position to seek higher needs until these are first satisfied. This may help explain that while Jesus had more to offer than healing, people with physical needs came to him first to be healed. Jesus' ministry always included ministry to the body and soul. E. Stanley Jones wrote, “The social gospel divorced from personal salvation is like a body without a soul; the message of personal salvation without a social dimension is like a soul without a body. The former is a corpse, the latter is a ghost.” John R. Mott said, “Evangelism without social work is deficient; social work without evangelism is impotent.”

"Large crowds...followed him." Although, externally focused ministry may not necessarily lead to your your church growing, it will result in expansion of the kingdom.


Post a Comment

<< Home