About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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The Burden Of Bureaucracy


How many times over the decades have I heard someone say that he entered Christian ministry to be on the front line serving Jesus but is now bogged down in the confines of meetings managing the organizational demands of a dysfunctional church.  I call this, "the burden of bureaucracy."  We, thus, need to ask ourselves where Christian ministry originated and if its origin has any relevance to today's Christian ministry.     


Christian ministry originated from the supportive and functional relationship between Jesus and His Father.  In other words, ministry was born from relationship.  First came the relationship, then came their collaborative ministry.  With this in mind, Jesus told His apostles that as His Father sent Him into ministry, so He was sending them into ministry (John 20:21).  This sending was realized when the Holy Spirit united the believers with Jesus and each other in a supportive and functional relationship, as seen in Acts 2.  As it was with Jesus and His Father, so it is with Jesus and us today.       


This, I believe, is a Biblical principle of ministry, which I also believe is foreign to much of our western-world's ecclesiastical concept of Christian ministry.  In today's western-world church one enters Christian ministry by joining a like-minded, suitable organizational structure of choice that can facilitate his ministry, and that, apart from personal, supportive, and functional relationships.  Ministry is, thus, born from the organization.  That's getting the cart before the horse, so to speak, and eventually the burden of bureaucracy becomes the burden of ministry.   


 This is the Biblical principle.  Relationship births ministry from which the organizational structure is born.  If you get this backwards, ministry gets out of order and becomes burdensome.  The Laodicean church (Revelation 3) is a prime example of a church that got ministry backwards.  In a humanistic sense, it was a successful organization, but its organizational structure excluded a collaborative relationship with Jesus.  Jesus would have nothing to do with this backward approach to ministry.  As He walked away, He invited individuals within the organization to dine with Him.  This implied the re-building of relationships that would facilitate effective ministry without the burden of ecclesiastical bureaucracy. 


Does the origin of Christian ministry have any relevance for us today?  If you are feeling the burden of bureaucracy, maybe you will answer with an affirmative, "yes."              


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