This is a post about “maturity” and part of a synchroblog. For a list of those involved with the synchroblog, check at the end of the post.
In the light of the recent Todd Bentley event (for those of you who don’t know, Todd Bentley has apparently separated with his wife, stepped down from the Florida revival thingie, and was apparently ’emotionally involved’ with another woman of his staff) I thought that maturity was an apt topic to write about.
Some of you might not know who Todd Bentley is, which is fine. You can google him or see him at YouTube. Todd Bentley is a guy who does healing, and – although some would say that not all of his healings have been validated – it seems to me that there is a great deal of genuine healing going around his ministry.
Where the problem comes in is that Bentley seems to have lacked some of the intrinsic character needs that are (so often) lacking in the healing ministry. My post isn’t to show, so much, that this is Bentley’s fault but more to say that those around Bentley (including some well known guys such as Rick Joyner) seemed to have been in such a rush for revival that they were happy with Bentley doing his thing despite their own knowledge of some character issues that needed to be ironed out.
Generally, the church (I mean the people, not some institution) seems to be in such a rush to do ministry that we lose the basics of character, rather employing an attitude of needing results NOW before laying the necessary foundations that take TIME. I’m in no doubt that Bentley does possess the gift of healing (even if it is not as prolific as all the marketing around him made it out to be) and in a rush to get everyone healed we now sit in a situation where the ministry that did take place looses momentum and, more sadly, has now once again lost a lot of credence. Many people are now more skeptical over healing, when they were previously in a place where they might have just accepted God’s healing as something that He really does. I’m one of them, having lost a great deal of faith in God’s will to heal because so many of the healing cases are coming up as moot.
Jesus didn’t seem to be in such a rush, having only started his ministry at 30 and at a party told his mom that his time had ‘not yet come’. He still performs the miracle, but it doesn’t seem that he would have done it had he not been asked by his mom (who he obviously loved).
If a man possesses a great healing (or any) anointing that could touch thousands of lives, but lacks maturity in Christ and has some character problems, should we still launch him out into ministry because of the fact that the gospel will be told and many will be touched? It seems to me that, more and more, the answer is no. ESPECIALLY if the guy/gal’s ministry is going to be so public (but, in Todd Bentley’s case, we could also argue that the relentless MARKETING that went behind the ministry is completely unhelpful and has no real place in the church or in ministry). It seems that Jesus was in no rush to begin his ministry – he waited when God had sent Him, despite Him knowing something of what God intended for Him to do. He asked His disciples to do the same – telling them to WAIT in Jerusalem until power fell from on high.
Maturity is paramount in ministry, and true ministry requires it. Otherwise, sooner or later, the ministry can fall because it is not built on a strong foundation but is built on sand. The foundation is relationship with Christ, and this is a foundation that takes years to build. It seems, to me, that God is interested in quality first, and isn’t in a rush to refine us like gold until we are exactly right to do our ministry in its fullness. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things we should be doing from day 1 of our walk with Christ (like, friendship evangelism for instance) but we require maturity before we start leading churches, and it seems to me that most of the church is impatient and want to lead a church before they have any form of real, lasting, solid, refined maturity and relationship (and, relationship(s) with others!).
Those who have contributed to this synchroblog are :
Phil Wyman asks Is Maturity Really What I Want?
Lainie Petersen at Headspace with “Watching Daddy Die”
Kathy Escobar at The Carnival in My Head with “what’s inside the bunny?”
John Smulo at JohnSmulo.com
Erin Word at Decompressing Faith with “Long-Wearing Nail Polish and Other Stories”
Beth Patterson at The Virtual Teahouse with “the future is ours to see: crumbling like a mountain”
Bryan Riley at Charis Shalom is Still Complaining
Alan Knox at The Assembling of the Church with “Maturity and Education”
KW Leslie at The Evening of Kent
Bethany Stedman at Coffee Klatch with Moving Towards True Being: The Long Process of Maturity
Adam Gonnerman at Igneous Quill with “Old Enough to Follow Christ?”
Joe Miller at More Than Cake with “Intentional Relationships for Maturity”
Jonathan Brink at JonathanBrink.com with “I Won’t Sin”
Susan Barnes at A Booklook with “Growing Up”
Tracy Simmons at The Best Parts with “Knowing Him Who is From the Beginning”
Joseph Speranzella at A Tic in the Mind’s Eye with “Spiritual Maturity And The Examination of Conscience”
Sally Coleman at Eternal Echoes
Liz Dyer at Grace Rules with “What I Wish The Church Knew About Spiritual Maturity”
Cobus van Wyngaard at My Contemplations with “post-enlightenment Christians in an unenlightened South Africa”
Steve Hayes at Khanya with “Adult Content”
Sound and Silence considers Inclusion and Maturity
Lew A at The Pursuit talks about Maturity and Preaching
Kai Schraml tells us about Mature Virtue
16 thoughts on “The Foundation For Ministry and Leading”
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Its amazing how often people treat giftedness, training, ability, etc. as spiritual maturity. I think it shows how generally immature the church is.
My post on the synchroblog was a little late getting to the list. I’d appreciate it if you would add mine to the list. Many thanks!
Feel very free to remove this comment after you add it. Thanks again.
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This might be naive but when I read this I couldn’t help but wonder why God would allow the person to keep this gift. My mind tends to automatically go to the conclusion that the healing ministry must have been bogus. My thinking is probably flawed. Help me understand.
Sorry – I hit the submit too soon – I also wanted to say that I am not sure that I think we should be “launching” anyone into ministry. I just feel very uncomfortable with things like this – maybe I am wrong but it feels like it is so hyped. Again – I am prepared to find that I am wrong. Help me see the other side.
Rom 11:29 does say that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. I think it makes sense to say that God does not take away a gift from anyone, as even we (though we are evil) don’t tell someone to give a gift back just because they may be using it in a way we don’t agree with. A gift belongs to someone once it is given.
We might, with our children, prevent them from using the gift but we wouldn’t take the gift away.
Likewise, I think that God may prevent someone like Bentley (if I may say so) from being able to use his gift but that doesn’t mean He would have taken the gift away.
God wants us to be faithful with the gifts he has given us, and there are many that have abused the gifts God has given them, or not used the gifts out of fear (the parable of the talents is an example).
When I say “launching” someone into ministry, I was really trying to emphasise my point on how hyped many of us have made this. We see it as ‘launching’ a ministry much the same as we see ‘launching’ a company. I was saying it with some tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, because that’s precisely how we do it – we ‘launch’ a guy into doing something when he isn’t ready for it. Because we want results, and we want it now. This is all wrong thinking, but a prevalent culture in the church that – if I may be so blunt – shows the general immaturity amongst a lot of the church.
I’m pretty convinced I’m very immature in a lot of things, too. So I’m not trying to stand in judgement over anyone (and I’m not standing in judgement of Bentley or those involved in his life).
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Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions. I know that contextually Romans 11:29 is talking about the promises that God made to the nation of Israel. I think that it is saying that even though God has set them aside for the time being that he will keep his promise to them in the long run. I think I can see how you could interpret that to mean that he would not remove a spiritual gift from a person but I don’t know that I can agree with that interpretation for that particular scripture. I hate to put God in a box like that by interpreting a scripture out of context. But I do sincerely appreciate your willingness to explain your point of view with me.
I’m obviously not trying to say that is all the scripture is saying, I’m really trying to draw out a character trait of God from the scripture and applying it to the context of what we’re talking about. Incidentally, there is nowhere in Scripture where God says he removes a gift from someone and I would think it’s because a gift isn’t something anyone deserves. God gives a gift because it’s a gift – not because it’s deserved or undeserved (something being deserved negates His character of grace anyway). Thanks for the comments!
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Hey Stray (that rhymes, did you know that?)
Thanks for this post–
The healing ministry is so fraught with unhealed persons–it’s almost that ‘we teach what we most need to learn’. In the process of being burned a few times, I’ve learned (I think it’s a maturing thing?) to separate the message form the messenger…that’s helped me a lot, and keeps my judgementalism down to a dull roar.
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It goes without saying I will tell all my friends about it, extremely resourceful. Bye for now.
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