April 28, 2010
April 26, 2010
Chapter 1: What is one-to-one work?
As we saw last week, the definition de Witt uses is:
one Christian taking the initiative with another individual to help them to know Christ better and obey him more fully, through studying the Scriptures, prayer (for and with them) and sharing one’s life with them – and leaving the results to God. (p2)She acknowledges that in this relationship it is more normal for one person to have more knowledge and experience as a Christian from which the other can learn. I found this distinction helpful for as I read this book, it didn’t always easily fit into the framework of a peer relationship.
De Witt notes that as we look at Scripture, there are many commands of how the community of believers are to serve one another – encouraging, loving, instructing, building up, spurring on, praying, etc. From these commands we get a strong idea that the Christian life is corporate:
God’s plan is that we live and grow as Christian together. But this only happens as we each focus on other individuals, seeking to help, encourage, teach and so on. Sadly we are often rather poor at this. Our relationships with other Christians so easily end up focusing on sport, home improvements, or the latest disaster with our children, rather than on Christ” (p5)What goals should we have in one-to-one work?
1. Witnessing to non-Christians – teaching and modelling the gospel and praying for them
2. Growing Christians in their faith:
- helping them stand firm in Jesus and mature to be more like him
- to know God better through his word
- to grow in prayerfulness
- to address issues of confusion, lifestyle or wrong expectations
Using the language of Ephesians 1,
We want people to be rooted and established in Christ, confident in their faith and growing in love and godliness as they know God better, so that the body of Christ is built up and matured as members serve one another, so that God, being seen and worshipped for who he really is, is glorified. (p14)And, if we still need convincing – she lists the main advantages of one-to-one work:
- understanding – there is more time to study passages and doctrines in depth and ensure understanding of them
- application - can have deeper and more personal application than in a group setting
- example – can actually see another Christian as they live out the Christian life, in its joys and struggles
- accountability – it is a safe environment to share struggles
- training – a great opportunity to train others in preparing bible studies, talks, or in doing one-to-one ministry themselves
Next Week: Chapter 2 – Getting Involved
April 23, 2010
I became a Christian when I was fifteen, and have been pretty convinced of the value of the work of building Christ's church ever since. I studied and worked as an accountant when I left school, and then had the enormous privilege of doing MTS at UNSW with a great bunch of people. I didn't get married in the first batch (that is, when all my friends seemed to!), so headed off to Moore College as a single woman, thinking that I might stay that way. Dave and I met at College (awww!) and were both keen to be involved in the work of the gospel outside of Sydney.
After Dave graduated in 2001, we came to work in Townsville with AFES. We were newly-weds with no kids, and now we have the blessing of our four boys aged from one to seven.
I've been involved with Dave in the work on the campus in many different ways at various times, but primarily we see my ministry as centering around loving Dave and the boys well. Since having kids, I've also helped reignite a mums Bible Study and playgroup at our church - Willows Presbyterian.
Dave is actually finishing up with AFES in July this year, and we are hoping to plant a church in Townsville early in 2011.
What have been some of the joys of being in ministry?
I've really appreciated the opportunity to meet one to one with some of the uni girls, and then to see them really 'catch the bug' for this type of ministry. I love evangelism (honestly!) and have loved organising events with church, inviting people to them, and seeing some come into God's family. I love seeing answers to prayers and seeing people grow and mature. I love that our boys are growing up with so many fantastic godly males around who they love to bits and get to hang out with.
I think Dave has a great theological mind and it's a privilege to hear him preach and see him work hard at loving and training the students.
Last year, Dave and I began hosting our new FOCUS group for overseas students. It's great seeing it grow in numbers, and studying the Bible with people from so many different cultures is never dull!
What have been some of the challenges?
Many of the standard challenges I have experienced at various times: tiredness, balancing ministry and family, feeling remote from like-minded people. But there are a couple of others that I will explain a bit more:
After being involved in uni ministry and youth group ministry for ages, I found it quite hard to make the shift to ministry amongst my peers. This was highlighted by not really having anyone to train me in this type of ministry (unlike most other things that I had done in the past). I think I am still working out how to lead my peers, being happy to be a leader, but not thinking of myself as superior in any way.
I've also found it hard at times (mainly when I'm tired) to do more than 'go through the motions' and really love and pray for those I'm ministering to. I know that my words are as good as a resounding gong in these circumstances....
How does partnership in serving God with your husband work out in practice for you?
I genuinely feel like we are working as a team, even if at times (like the last six years!) our work is in different patches.
The main way I serve Dave is to try keep our home a lovely place for Dave to return to (mainly relationally, but also practically in terms of food when we need it, neat enough for me to relax in etc). I want him to lead our family, but have confidence in the way that I look after our boys and our home affairs in the day-to-day.
I also want to help and encouraging Dave in his role as staffworker at the uni. This might involve talking through issues, reading sermons, having students over for a meal, sitting in on tricky meetings, doing the finances (!), making suggestions, and praying with him and for him about the uni ministry. Sometimes I'm also more formally on a leadership team with him, like with FOCUS this year. There are times that I can't do much of that, either because of my situation (just had a baby for example), or because a particular issue or situation is just too stressful and consuming for me to get involved with. Sometimes - certainly not every time - it seems that the best way I can serve Dave when there is something particularly difficult for him, is to actually not 'go there' so that I can keep things functioning at home and support him in a way that I wouldn't have energy for if I was also consumed with the particular problem. I'm sure different couples work this kind of situation out differently (and many others as well!!), but this works for us.
Dave is always very encouraging about any ministry that I'm involved in, and I really appreciate this, knowing that he is supportive of what I am doing and has confidence in me. He often encourages me to keep seeing family and raising children as a really valuable place to be devoting my energy to.
We're both really looking forward to planting a church together next year.
What's the one piece of advice you would give to a younger woman about to become a 'ministry wife'?
One piece! That's tough. It would depend on who she is, but I think the generic advice that I appreciate being reminded of is to continue to nurture your own relationship with our Father.
April 22, 2010
And then someone else does something we couldn't possibly do. Something we’d never even think of. And we’re afraid that somehow what she can do shows us up. It shows that we don’t make the grade. We’re not good enough, we’re inadequate. What she does, well that’s for super-woman, not for ordinary people like me.
The labeling of another as super-woman may reveal a bitter jealousy of the things she has and does that we have not and do not. It may betray a fearful competitiveness that relates to others based not on love and graciousness, but in judgment. It seeks to prove that we are good enough, forgetting the goodness we receive through Christ.
April 21, 2010
April 20, 2010
So now I want to turn to what I think are problems with the “legend of the super-woman”. First of all, we’re going to consider the problems it reveals in our hearts.
Sometimes, we use the phrase as genuine praise. We mean, “you’re so good at that and I’m so glad”. They are words meant to affirm, encourage and praise. If indeed they are, “gracious, pleasant words,” then they will be “a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
Even in praise, however, I believe it is an unhelpful term because of its connotations of perfection and indefatigable ability. Furthermore , I suspect that more often than not, it is a term arising from murkier waters within our hearts: from bitter jealousy and fearful competition.
More about them tomorrow.
April 19, 2010
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)For most people, key turning points in faith or becoming disciples came about because of individuals who influenced them, cared for them, prayed for them and taught them the bible.
The kingdom of God advances one person at a time as individuals are born again by God’s spirit and increasingly transformed into the likeness of Christ. (xv-xvi).She says that this book was born out of the conviction that many more Christians need to be exercising a personal ministry of reaching out to others – to be teaching and modelling the gospel. This one-to-one work is:
one Christian taking the initiative with another individual to help them to know Christ better and obey him more fully, through studying the scriptures, prayer (for and with them) and sharing one’s life with them – and leaving the results to God. (xvi)I really liked this definition – including the acceptance and knowledge that the results of such things are up to God, not ourselves.
As the book goes on, de Witt will cover how to read the bible with someone, how to pray with someone, just being a friend and also matters of confidentiality, counselling, etc.
Hopefully this (along with last week’s post) have whetted your appetite to hone your skills at one-to-one ministry!
Next week: Chapter 1: What is One-to-One work?
April 15, 2010
April 14, 2010
I’m sure you know who I mean. She’s the beautiful one, well-groomed, well-dressed, with delightful, well-behaved, believing young children (including a foster-child) and the perfect house, always hospitable and kind, who sends encouraging notes regularly, has a listening ear when you are troubled and always remembers to drop around a meal during difficult times. If you ever manage to do this, she’s already there, vacuuming or folding washing. She wakes early every day for prayer and bible reading. She teaches scripture, is a natural evangelist, meets one-on-one with younger women, writes an insightful blog, has her second book on the go, plays the piano in church, sings like an angel, runs a growing and exciting Sunday School. She runs a bible study and gives great talks (you know that when she’s the speaker, numbers will be big). She even knows how to gracefully say no when she can’t manage something; like on the nights she and her husband have those wonderfully intimate date nights. She never raises her voice, gossips, or swears. Oh, and she also works two days a week in the local library; it allows them to be more generous and keeps her involved in the local community.
We all know what the perfect ministry-wife should be like, and she’s it.
Yesterday I said that the super-woman is the one who manages a terribly successful career as well as a busy family life. We could say that the super-ministry-wife is not just married to the minister and doing all the things traditionally associated with that role, but is also the women’s/youth/children’s worker (or perhaps all three). Or we could think of every possible good thing to do and roll it into one person: the super-ministry-wife, the ideal we hold in our heads and berate ourselves for never achieving.
This all seems so incredible, she must be in possession of special powers of some sort, mustn't she?
Naomi Reed speaks thus of the picture of the ideal missionary we (other missionaries) hold in our heads, in Over My Shoulder, Ark House Press, 2009, p12
April 13, 2010
At the very least, she can and is doing more than me.
Over the next little while on in-tandem, we’re going to explore the legend of the super-woman in her particular incarnation as the super-ministry-wife.
What do we make of her? How do we respond to her when we meet her? Should we aspire to be like her? Does she really even exist?
Stay tuned and join in...
April 12, 2010
There is every chance as a minister’s wife that you either want to read the bible with others or that you are expected to! However, as many of us will openly testify, just because we have a role does not mean we feel we have the skills to perform that role. You might think:
- I would love to help that new Christian along in her walk of faith, but I have no idea how to do it
- There are some key people that should be trained as leaders, but how could I do that?
- A younger woman has asked me to read the bible with her – help! Where do we start, what do we read, what should I say...??
If you understand this book and put it’s principles into practice ... you’ll be absolute gold dust in any church family. (xiii)If, on the other hand, you have been doing one-to-one ministry for years, this book will help to ensure that you are keeping on target, making reading God’s word & prayer the primary focus of your time with others. It will also be a great resource as you seek to train others to do one-to-one ministry.
Therefore, it’s relevant for all of us – so why don’t you grab a copy*, and join us as we start our next book series, beginning next week.
Next Monday: Introduction
* try here or here or here. Note that it also seems to have been published under her maiden name - Sophie Peace
April 9, 2010
One of the women I have been most inspired by (from a very long distance of time and place) is Sarah Edwards. She was the wife of Jonathan Edwards, who was a pastor, theologian and missionary in 18th century New England. One of the best accounts of her life that I have read is Marriage to a Difficult Man by Elisabeth Dodds. While I had a few reservations about the book, I found it compelling and encouraging to read.
In this biography of Edwards's life, Dodds looks at the primary sources like letters, shopping lists and accounts by other well known visitors to Jonathan and Sarah's house. I soaked up all the details she included - descriptions of their family life and their daily routines. I found myself amazed by how much I could identify with her - her struggles as a mum, some of her experiences as a pastor's wife, some of the aspects of her relationship with her husband. I liked reading about the way she and Jonathan would get away and talk about things and discuss his theology on their daily horse-ride in the countryside. I also liked the descriptions of Sarah knitting at night by the fire, while Jonathan would read his sermons to her. I could almost imagine Dave and me doing those things!
And yet, simultaneously, I felt that there were ways in which our lives could not be more different. When she struggled, it was with 11 children - not 3. Her difficult experiences as a pastor's wife amounted to her and her family being shunned by their whole church - not my experience at all. And of course, there were the countless other ways where the practicalities of my life are so very different from hers - the amount of work she had to do to keep her family fed and clothed and the extent and nature of her generous hospitality, for example. And I was freshly reminded of how close death seemed to those who walked the earth at the same time as Sarah Edwards, especially at the end of the book, where it describes the tragedy of the quick succession of deaths (5 in all) in the Edwards household in 1757-58. Even her attitude to her husband's death (6 months before her own) reminded me that I am no Sarah Edwards! Samuel Hopkins wrote:
Her conduct, upon this occasion, was such as to excite the admiration of her friends; she was sensible of the great loss...and at the same time showed that she was quiet and resigned, and had those invisible supports which enabled her to trust in God.I do recommend this book. I benefited greatly from taking just a little peek into the life of this woman!
* This is an edited version of a post I wrote for EQUIP book club.
April 3, 2010
In the meantime, hope you have a happy Easter!
April 1, 2010
2. The job = ministry
3. Double standards
4. The goldfish bowl
5. Lack of privacy
8. Feelings of resentment when your husband gets the glory!
9. Difficult to be fed
This list was obviously based on my own experiences and observations so I'm sure I've overlooked some. What would you add?