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.