How the Trinity does Ministry

We can learn a lot about ministry by looking at how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit minister to us. When God the Son wanted to bring the life of the Trinity to us he:

1. Took up permanent residence in our humanity

2. And built long term relationships.

When we see this we realize that God has “moved into our neighborhood” and will live here forever! He’s not going anywhere. And that permanent residency is great for building really long term relationships – the kind that last forever. This tells us our most effective ministry will be realized in the long-lasting relationships of our lives and that we should give top priority to these relationships.

If we really want to help others experience the assurance of how Jesus has baptized them into the life of the Trinity we need to focus on the places we live every day in long term relationship.

That’s why family really is more important than work, church, or hobbies. With our wives, husbands, children, parents, and siblings we have the chance to experience the fullest and deepest reality of what it means to be adopted children of the Father in Christ.

Our local church family is second in providing this experience. Staying with a group of believers week in and week out for years on end has the potential to baptize us in the assurance of who we are in Christ and enable us to share that baptism with others.

Of course, families and churches are all dysfunctional to some extent. The key to families and churches being healthy places of ministry is our focus on Jesus. If our daily and weekly relationships are built around the truth of how Jesus has brought us into the life of the Trinity then even our dysfunctionality can be healed and turned into positive change for our lives and the lives of others.

When I look around at American Christianity I think I see a lot of evidence that we are not really focused on who Jesus is for us. One evidence is that we are addicted to “event/experience” ministry.

We lack assurance of who we are in Christ because we have a theology that says our status as children of the Father depends on our belief instead of on who Jesus is for us. As a result we are addicted to events that make us feel – however briefly – that we are good and acceptable and loved by the Father. Family life and Sunday services are too “routine” and “dull” to give us the emotional fix we need.

So, the Christian world is full of one day, weekend, one week, and three week events that slake our thirst for assurance for a little while. But the long term effects of these events are very small in comparison to the long term effects of family and church life.

The vast majority of what my children believe about their life in Christ will be shaped by what they experience every day in my house, every Sunday at church, and every Monday night at youth group. Only a small minority of their identity will be shaped by what they experience at exciting events.

Why? Because family and church are built around long-term relationships in which I and others have taken up permanent residence in my children’s lives. Event ministry is just the event – the relationships are superficial and extremely short term.

I’m not necessarily bashing short term ministry events. Such experiences can be helpful, in moderation. What I am bashing is our form of Christianity which holds up these intense experiences as somehow better than and more “spiritual” than actually living in relationship.

There’s something wrong with our understanding of who we are in Christ when we don’t think we’ve done “real” ministry by cooking breakfast for our children, encouraging a spouse to keep trusting Jesus, or taking communion with the 25 people who’ve been our church family for the last 18 years!

The irony is that family and church are not only more effective, they’re actually easier to fit into our lives. It doesn’t cost me any money or disrupt the flow of my life to pray with my kids before they go to school or show up at church on Sunday morning. In contrast, I have spent thousands of dollars, driven thousands of miles, and twisted my schedule into knots to get them to exciting events.

Do I really want to experience the assurance of knowing who I am in Christ and help others do the same? Then I must live with them, the way the Son of God lives with us, and stay in relationship with them for years, the way Jesus stays with us.

~ By Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. tjbrassell on

    This post was so refreshing, inspiring and insightful that I made immediate use of it in a regular Gettin’ Real Trinitarian interaction meeting in my home last evening! We were all encouraged and motivated by it and talked more deeply about how meaningful our everyday lives in relationships are, especially with family and the Church! Like fish, the last thing we keep discovering – the River of Living Water – is what we are all already immersed and swimming in up to our gills! Thanks!

  2. Jerome on

    I agree with Pastor Tim’s words on your post. It got me to thinking about the things we are already doing in our family and church, and it gave he great encouragement to realize that these are primary areas of Christ’s ministry that we are participating in. The relationships that we are sharing in is a sharing of the relationship of the Trinity. Wow, Jesus, Thank You!

  3. Boyd Merriman on

    I often long for a relationship like this. Growing up, we moved every two years or so, sometimes less. We lived in California to Florida. Even in North Carolina, where I lived most of my years, have been one moving experience after another. It’s so easy for me to move since I have not had time to build real relationships with others. We have been in Greensboro for over fifteen years, and started to build real relationships, then we were forced to move due to our job situation. I am very excited to be under the training of Tim Brassell, but it has been hard to rebuild relationships again. We live so far away from the others, going to church takes us over an hour. We want to be there and want to build relationships, but that nagging feeling I keep getting in my heart that says, “why bother? You’re just going to move again anyway. You live too far away to build any real relationships.” I grew up in the WCG and had the experience of going to school in Imperial School, part of the Ambassador College school system in the sixties. But also going from school to school, from one city or state to another, never making any real friends or relationships. So I can understand, slightly, what you are saying here. I hope I can understand more. The only constant we had was our immediate family and the Church at large.

  4. Pastor Jonathan on

    I hear what you’re saying, Boyd, and I appreciate you sharing it. I sometimes think that our society is structured to mess up relationships – the way we work, educate our children, and even spend our leisure time very often hinders relationship instead of helping it.
    The frustration you’re expressing is the frustration that the Father and Jesus feel and share with you through the Holy Spirit. The Father didn’t create us to live this way so when relationships aren’t what they are created to be we experience his grief over that and he experiences our grief.
    Perhaps that’s why scripture tells us to be in the world but not of it. Sometimes we have to make tough choices to seek out relationship, but, as you said, it gets harder and harder as relationships keep getting messed up.
    My prayer is that we’ll never give up! Even when it’s hard to risk relationship we know we have to put our faith in the Father, not other people, and trust that he will share the love of his life with the Son even in the midst of short-term or less than perfect human relationships with others.

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