on cutting edge ministry

there is always the temptation to think we, as small church pastors need to be cutting edge if we want our churches to grow.

country churchCameron Cole over at his blog The Rooted Blog talks aboutthe problem of trying to be cutting edge in youth ministry and I think his post is instructive for us as at Blue Chip Pastor on a number of levels.  What he says about Youth Ministry is applicable to the Small Church setting.  He writes:

In all spheres of ministry, the temptation lurks to be “cutting edge.” This enticement may exist more in youth ministry more than other sectors, due to the frequently evolving nature of teen culture, where the target seemingly moves every five to seven years. In a valuable manner, youth ministry people seek to keep a watchful eye on the most efficacious means by which to reach teenagers. It is part of what makes the field exciting and dynamic. At the same time, youth ministry can dedicate exorbitant amounts of attention to finding a magic bullet in our methodology.

The temptation is there.  We all face it.  And I think it can apply too to the Small church setting because, well, like youth ministry, small churches can tend to deal with high levels of turnover (hence a similarity to the constant evolving nature of youth culture – I remember feeling out of touch just not even one year after I graduated from High School).  Too often, “cutting edge” = growing numerically.  This just isn’t true.  Cole goes on to say:

The longer I work with students, the more convinced I am that there is nothing sexy or cutting edge about effective youth ministry. I have annoyed many a colleague with my penchant for repeatedly saying, “There is nothing new under the sun: if you want to be cutting edge, go into biomedical engineering or particle physics, not ministry.” Effective youth ministry boils down to pursuing relationships, teaching scripture, proclaiming the Gospel, worshiping, and praying ferventlyThat is it. Ministry revolving around these five components has endless possibilities. Other parts of ministry, such as missions, social justice, and fellowship, can have great vibrancy with such a foundation. Ministry that lacks relating, exegeting, proclaiming, worshiping, or praying usually evolves into an exercise in futility or a practice in “playing church.”

Just replace youth ministry with small church ministry and I am not sure there is much difference.   There is in fact nothing new under the sun, its all been done before just in different ways and means.  In fact, Cole’s cutting edge approach of teaching, proclaiming, worshipping, and praying seem pretty timeless to me.

Lots of instruction here I think many a Blue Chip Pastor can take encouragement from.  Let us flee the idolatry of “cutting edge” ministry and instead just continue in faithfulness and obedience to our pastoral vocations shepherding teaching, proclaiming, worshipping, and praying communities of faith.