"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Theology Driven" or "Jesus Driven" Ministry?

I find it humorous that Jim Smyrl's blog earlier this week proclaimed the virtues of "Theology Driven Ministry" - that he and Mac's "changes" they've made in the past year or so, and their plans for the future are some sort of new "movement" - the "Theology Driven Ministry" movement. Smyrl categorizes all other forms of ministry and piously explains how they all fall short - some of them, based on his examples, are taking a shot at the way we used to do things at FBC Jax. But according to Jim, thank God for TDM - because it is THE way ministry should be done. Thank you Jim and Mac, for giving us TDM, for what WOULD we have done without it! We were so lost in our ministry until Smyrl showed up with his TDM.

"Earth to Jim": Please do a "find and replace" on your computer, and replace all occurrences of the word "TDM" with the word: JESUS. Then re-read all of your TDM gobbldy-gook and it might start to make sense. It might do you, and FBC Jax, some good.

That Smyrl thinks he is defining the ultimate ministry model in TDM is so arrogant that it defies logic. FBC Jacksonville has never needed a "movement" to define its ministry. For 50 years we didn't need three letters like TDM to define what we were all about. We used 5 letters: J-E-S-U-S. We were a "Jesus Driven" ministry. We preached Jesus. We taught Jesus. We explained who Jesus was out of the Bible. We didn't need "theology" courses taught by seminaries on campus - we used humble Bible teachers who loved and lived for Jesus. The only "theology" we needed was the Word taught by preachers who preached....JESUS straight out of the Bible every single service.

And being a "JESUS" driven ministry, we used all sorts of techniques to draw people to him and to encourage people to live for Jesus. We didn't need an angry preacher yelling at us to bring our Bibles...we did it because we loved Jesus. A preacher stomping around and "amening" himself where he was just standing - nope, we gave heartily "Amens" when the truth about JESUS was spoken from the pulpit. Preachers didn't need to threaten us to tithe...we did it because we were taught to love JESUS. Jesus WAS our theology. We didn't start a school - not because we were stupid and needed the marketing genius of Mac and Maurilio to do what we were too stupid to do, but because we thought it not the best use of our resources to achieve the goal of REACHING PEOPLE FOR JESUS.

We didn't need to give our preacher a quarter million dollar land gift to come and preach...they did it because they loved us and loved JESUS. We built parking garages and buildings - not to draw people and raise revenue - not a "build it and they'll come" marketing strategy - we built because people were coming to hear about JESUS. They didn't come to hear history lessons and theatrics and seeing the preacher yell, squint, stomp, cringe, bellyache, and cry...they came to hear about JESUS. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It was...I said WAS a Jesus-driven ministry.

Its wonderful to have a JESUS-driven ministry...you can try new ministry techniques and explain them lovingly to a congregation in the context of: "let's try this and see if it helps us reach people for Jesus and helps people love and obey Jesus more". If something works, let's keep doing it. If it doesn't work, let's try something else. We don't need to declare our new ideas as THE way...that is arrogant. We would humbly try something and if it worked we kept doing it until it didn't achieve the results of reaching people for JESUS. We didn't narrowly define our ministry in terms of "we must do small groups". Could we do "small groups"? Sure, we could try that and our preachers would lovingly explain it to us. If the preachers perceived the people didn't like it and it didn't draw them closer to Jesus, they'd move on to something else because we weren't about "small groups", we were about JESUS. Could we help compel students to invite their friends with fun rewards? Sure! If it helps reach people for JESUS, let's do it! Reward trips for teenagers to help give them motivation to study their Bibles each week and to witness? Sure, if it helps compel them to live for JESUS, let's try it! If it doesn't work, we'll do something else. Start a local TV ministry? Sure! Start a men's division? Let's see if it helps us reach people for Jesus! Bus ministry? Let's go for it, if it helps us reach people for Jesus and helps people learn to love Him. Couples classes? Let's try it!

"Earth to Mac": We were "cutting edge" when we were "JESUS driven" and we tried all sorts of ministries focused on Jesus. We didn't force people...we didn't yell at people...we did what we could to help people come to JESUS and live for JESUS.

We were a JESUS driven ministry and there is a remnant at FBC Jax that knows deep in their heart that we WERE Jesus driven, and we are now no longer Jesus driven, but we are now promotions, revenue, and celebrity preacher driven. More on that later.

Jim and his clever little TDM and his explanations of all the things we did that were wrong...he'll move on and maybe he'll write a book. Mac and Honey at some point will move on and take the Promotions and Celebrity and Marketing and Maurilio and the Family and will move on to the next church or SBC agency....and we'll get back to being a JESUS-DRIVEN MINISTRY.

In the meantime: keep loving people, and keep loving Jesus. It would be what Homer Lindsay would want us to do in these difficult days.

15 comments:

RM said...

I just read Jim's article and actually found it to be one of the best I have ever read. I thought he explained each of the movements very accurately and he didn't say which one was used at your church.

Educationally I thought he hit a home run.

Now--when all your criticisms come for me saying this, please go lightly.

Anonymous said...

I'm with the Watchdog. From 1838 (founding of FBC) up to 2006 this church grew from a dozen or so to over 30,000 members. We never heard of TDM and look at the growth in members, witnessing, baptism's, bus ministry, children's ministry, singles ministry, couples, jr high, sr high, etc. Funny how all of that occured without the aid of TDM.

Some people like to use new slogans to pretend that something is going on which is SO SPECIAL. I don't see it AND NEITHER DO A LOT OF OTHERS. Building on the legacy of both Dr. Lindsays' 60 year ministry could have easily been done. No, out with the old in with the new. Without what they accomplished, along with the dedicated members, no church in America was even close in teaching and training its people to do the Great Commission. And you could feel the prescene of the Holy Spirit during the services.
Change for the sake of change does not in and of itself make a great church. We have heard that from Obama for over a year. Just wait and see what that change will do for you, then see if you like what he accomplishes.

Another sad moment is when the leadership sends out trespass warnings rather than witnessing teams. Small groups do not appear to be working as great as some would like, as the Sunday School averages less now than it did 10,15,20, and even 25 years ago with a smaller membership.Just go back and look at the records. There were 5,000 in SS back in the late 1970's under Operation Andrew. Where did that plan get tossed? It worked for years and years.If you were around when Dr Lindsay Sr was the pastor you recall on Sunday evenings after the service his shaking hands of the members,you would find he and Mrs. Lindsay on the sidewalk afterwards, talking to you and others and not in any hurry to run home. Don't see that anymore. Unless it is to the "elite". Somewhere the joy of going to church has disappeared. An arrogant attitude and condescending demeanor has taken over. Everyone had a voice...not anymore...go along with the leadership or off with your head.Its my way or the highway. Whoever heard of a pastor telling the members that he would put the fear of God into you. To my recollection, neither Dr Lindsays or Vines ever made such comments.

Also, marketing Jesus is unacceptable to real Bible Believers. We don't need marketing techniques, we need prayer and fasting the old fashion way of having Jesus and His Word magnified. Not some new gimic or hook!!

But, keep telling yourself that things will get even better. Don't cross your fingers...it ain't going to happen. Don't you recognize smaller crowds??

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

And the preacher didn't have to threaten us with debt if we didn't give money to a certain program as Mac did when he said if we didn't want to go into debt that we had to raise 1 million dollars in two weeks.

Our preachers, being "Jesus driven" knew that if Jesus were in something, he would work in the hearts of God's people through the prompting of the Holy Spirit to give to meet needs. And it worked.

Didn't work so well the TDM way - DEMANDING arrogantly that we fork over a million bucks...how much have we raised so far?

Anonymous said...

RM: Maybe you're not Purpose Driven. Maybe you're Theology Driven. What has happened to you preachers of today? Why can't you just "preach the Word"? Why must you guys have a gimmick, or a "crutch"? It tells me you guys don't trust Jesus to do what He says He will do. All of you want to help Him out. Pitiful!!!!

Anonymous said...

Tell me how did anyone get saved, these many years before this "new" TDM came along? Solomon said "There is nothing new under the sun". I guess both Dr. Lindsay's were just "unique". They just plainly without gimmicks, PREACHED JESUS!!!! How was it they were able to preach the Bible and the Holy Spirit convicted the listener and the lost in such large numbers to accept Jesus as Savior. And just think, this happened PRIOR to TDM or Smyrl!!

When I hear something about "new" as in new movement, or "changes" I get suspicious,. This is how cults get started. These "I have arrived", know it all types always end up embarassing themselves. The Previous pastors preached the Word as written that was their success. They didn't need a theology type. The key to the success of FBCJ in the past was the preachers loved Jesus, preached Jesus, obeyed Jesus, and they taught the people to do the same. No new anything.

This marketing, new methods, ministry types, cheapen the Gospel. There are NO New Revelations. Jesus has not kept anything from us. We don't need a new concept. We need a humble, God fearing, and I mean God fearing pastor more in love with Jesus, than himself, to lead us.

I don't know about you, but I get uncomfortable when I am yelled at. I generally don't react positively to being pushed into anything. I am much easier to lead than to be pushed. That's why I FOLLOW JESUS. Man is just man. But Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

Anonymous said...

Question. What have you learned from these mega preachers that you didn't know already from reading your Bible? I'm talking about knowledge from the scriptures, not some other source. Anybody?

Anonymous said...

It is called "Institutionalizing Jesus". There will be another movement, program, etc in about 2 years. That is about how long they last in most churches today before you need a new tactic.

Warren has the longest running one so far and it made zillions. (Even though he claims to give 90% away, he was still able to 'loan' PDL quite a few million personally a few years back)

More people read PDL than ever read their entire bible! Rwanda claimed it as their national bible!

Anyone want to know why Willow Creek had their big change? It wasn't because they thought they did anything wrong, it is because they had more folks going out the back door than were coming in the front door so they changed tactics. It is that simple.

Sam

Anonymous said...

What do advertising agencies sell their customers? Its a new soap, a new type car, a new dress, a new toothpaste, a new shirt, always new something or other. Get real. There is nothing new about the Bible its been the same for 2000 years.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog you are right on brother. We have AWAYS been JESUS DRIVEN. You know, I hate to even use the word DRIVEN. WE ARE NOT TO BE DRIVEN; WE ARE TO BE LED. SPIRIT LED!!!

Smyrl, your TDM is just some " Johnny Come Lately" holier than thou verbiage. Not worth the time to read about.

By the way Jim, what you are doing at FBC JAX IS:

Worship Driven-CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN SERVICE [LOUD MUSIC-GET THEM WORKED UP].

Service Driven-IN SUNDAY SCHOOL/SMALL GROUPS, GET THEM DOING EVERYTHING. JUST GET THEM SO BUSY THEY WON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT VISITATION.

Reward Driven-Thursday Preaching, WE DID GIVE PEOPLE IPODS. DIDN'T WE?

Call it what you want Jim. IT IS STILL PURPOSE DRIVEN.

LOOK IT UP!

Watchdog, reading your post was indeed the way life was back in those fruitful years. It was always about Jesus. These poor LIBERALS have LOST THEIR WAY. Unfortunately they refuse to use anything that worked then.


Rebellious, they are.

RM said...

Anon,

Its a bit presumptious of you to say that I don't preach Jesus nor let Him do what He says He can. Just by your statement to me, its obvious you know nothing about me. Be a tad more careful about judging people you don't even know.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

The co-pastor concept tells us alot about Vines and Lindsay. They were so comfortable with who they were they didn't mind sharing the title of pastor. They knew their preaching styles were very different and they complemented each other - but they did have in common that they PREACHED JESUS.

It was said that many people predicted the co-pastor concept would never work - Vines and Lindsay made it look easy. But now that we've been exposed to Mac - if he is the typical mega church pastor no wonder people predicted failure for the co-pastor concept! Can anyone imagine Mac sharing the title of "pastor" with someone else?

Anonymous said...

RM: You really are a preacher. Touchy, touchy. Most preachers don't accept criticism. And, most preachers don't know anything about their congregation either, they don't want to know them. I think the point being made is that preachers IN GENERAL are using this driven that driven because they have left their first love. Preach Jesus. And I am always a TAD careful when dealing with preachers IN GENERAL!!
For the record I have generally agreed with most of your comments. Wish you could reach some of your fellow preachers and tell them how the people are no longer as trusting of them as they once were. Some lessons are learned the hard way. I think it is because they have NOT been called to preach in the first place. It's a job with lucrative rewards, to many of them. We are in the last days, and it isn't just the people, but the CHURCH that Jesus spews out of his mouth. (REV)

Anonymous said...

And Baptist have the nerve to pick on Catholics. True they have a man made religion. But who is it destroying the Baptist today? MEN!!!!

I think I know why Sunday school is going to small groups. NO ONE IS THERE!!! Churches will soon be small groups also. What are satellite groups, (I won't say churches, because they arn't) they are just small groups, that, by the way, don't last long, if they ever get off the ground. They are just an idea of desperate preachers, and marketing firms, trying to keep it going. The blind always try leading the blind.

RM said...

Dear Anon,

I probably trust "preachers in general" less than you do since I know them so well...

it is written said...

RM...I totally agree with your last blog(12:02pm)on trusting preachers!