Until we foster a culture that understands the greater value of ministry sans the spotlight, we'll all keep waiting for the lights to come on.
Only days after this issue arrives in mailboxes, almost 100 pastors and ministry leaders will assemble for an annual gathering to jump-start the year. The sixth Charismatic Leadership Council, held once again in Orlando, Fla., will convene a who's who of leaders within the charismatic community. But with all due respect to those ministers and the titles they carry, I'm not sure I care who attends anymore. Like most believers looking for authentic leadership these days, I'm more concerned about what's being done away from the spotlight.
Fortunately, many of the leaders present on Jan. 13—renowned and not—share my sense of frustration. Some have expressed it publicly throughout the many ministry mishaps in recent years involving fellow charismatic leaders. A handful of those attending have been so bold to identify the deeper issue: a leadership culture that breeds character-deficient ministers vying for stage time. While under the spotlight, we anoint them and bless their "kingdom" growth; in private, we pray their fall isn't too hard.
Of course, our typical platform response goes like this: "Isn't it a shame [enter fallen minister of the week here] fell? We should all pray for [his/her] restoration. But remember, the Lord is doing a new thing far bigger than just one person. He's raising up a nameless, faceless generation that will 'set its face like flint' toward God!"
I'm exaggerating ... slightly. But my facetiousness is partly because I've grown weary of the frequent futurespeak and prophetic rhetoric regarding this coming generation of Christian leaders. The truth is, they're already here! The days of SuperChristian heroes swooping in to save the day are diminishing. American Church Idols don't seem so big anymore. As more ministers-turned-celebrities are exposed for their plastic kingdoms, nameless leaders are realizing our need to get back to the basics and do what the Bible tells us to do: Lead by serving. Worship passionately. Pray unceasingly. Love unconditionally. Make disciples, not churchgoers.
This "new" wave isn't one filled with saviors in caped suits but of everyday folks just wanting to mimic Jesus' perfect leadership example. Call them countercultural, revolutionary—they're simply people bent on "RE:defining ministry."
Ministry Today's theme for 2009 shares this same phrase, and it's because we have a renewed vision to serve such kingdom-minded leaders. This year we want to highlight those who are creating a "new" definition of integrity-filled ministry through such basic, biblical principles as servant leadership, undignified worship, power evangelism and true discipleship. Along with that, we'll tackle tough questions such as, "Do signs and wonders cut it anymore?" and "How can I reach the world when I'm barely serving my community?" In this issue we start with God's building block of society—the family—and look at how churches are dealing with the changing pace and structure of families.
You'll notice none of this is really all that new. In fact, many of those attending the Charismatic Leadership Council have preached such basic principles for years—in the spotlight, no less. That indicates the recurrent problem of falling ministry stars isn't just an onstage ordeal. Until we foster a culture that understands the greater value of ministry sans the spotlight, we'll all keep waiting for the lights to come on.