In my Pastoral Ministry class today B. J. Maxwell, pastor of Unity Baptist in Millington, TN, gave a lecture titled, “Strive to Be Ordinary.” It was an excellent exhortation to pursue faithful ministry to people rather than the trappings of success. I attempted to record it but was unsuccessful. The manuscript should be available soon, and I will link to it.
Maxwell began by rooting pastoral ministry in a proper understanding of the church. Is it a business to keep profitable? A team to be coached? A brand to be marketed? Or God’s redeemed and sojourning people who need shepherding on their journey home? Because the church is a unique entity, pastoral ministry is a one-of-a-kind service. It cannot be approached or defined by categories of this world.
He described pastoral ministry as helping people to die well.
The heart of the presentation was “five rungs for climbing down the ladder toward ordinariness.”
1. Get acquainted with suffering
2. Develop a theology or vocabulary of encouragement. Learn how to encourage God’s people with the gospel.
3. Focus largely on micro-ministry before macro-ministry (i.e. needs of specific people before structural or programmatic issues)
4. Think in terms of decades and generations rather than weeks and years.
“Work today not with an eye to impressing the state paper, but with an eye to shaping your grandchildren.”
5. Recover simple personal discipleship
UPDATE: The manuscript is now available here. Highly recommended!