Josh Brown has just recently finished his summer internship at FBC. Most notably, he was our VBS director. Josh is currently a High School Senior dual enrolled in Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School and Polk State College. In May he will graduate with his high school diploma and an Associate of Arts degree.
One of his assignments this summer was to read The Trellis and the Vine and write a book report. Here are some highlights from that report. In his report, Josh typed out a quote from the book and then included his comments after the quote. I’ve put all of Josh’s comments in italics.
- “If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward… How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that…” (p. 53) This came from an atheist. That really struck me. The example with the truck is such a strong one because that is so true.
- “Did you get that? Epaphroditus was distressed not because he was ill, but because they heard that he was ill.” (p. 66) Wow, when I am sick I definitely do not think like this. It’s really something to think about though. Next time I am sick I will try to refrain from complaining so much.
- “We must be willing to lose people from our own congregation it that is better for the growth of the gospel.” (p. 83) I am not a pastor, but if I were I could see how this would be a huge challenge. While you are working to build the local church that you minister in, it is not just about “your church” but about “the church.” I often get caught up with numbers and things like that as I look at particular congregations, but it is not about that. It is about the church as a whole.
- “Think about people individually.” I like the example on page 88. “Seeing each of my patients individually and diagnosing their illnesses is just too difficult and time consuming. Instead, I’m going to get all my patients to assemble together each week, and I’ll give them all the same medicine…” We do need to focus more on individuals and their struggles and successes. On page 89, the author says that, “There needs to be inefficient, individual people ministry, as well as the more efficient ministries that take place in larger groups.” Sometimes we get caught up again in numbers and how many people we can reach all at once.
- On page 108 the authors ask, “Are some structures or regular activities long past their use-by date? Saying ‘yes’ to more personal ministry almost always means saying ‘no’ to something else…even freeing up some time in the diary may still leave us feeling swamped with the amount of ‘people work’ there is to do. That’s why we need co-workers.” This brings me back to a fault of mine – I like to do everything myself. If I freed myself of some of the tasks that have nothing to do directly with training people I could probably make a bigger impact.
- “It doesn’t all depend on us, praise be to God!” (p.110) This is a great thing to remember all throughout ministry and in everything we do. “Ministry becomes all about problems and counseling, and not about the gospel and growing in godliness.” (p. 111) Although helping people with their problems and counseling people is important, it is not the most important thing. The gospel and people’s growth is the most important.
- “The Bible doesn’t speak of people being ‘called’ to be a doctor or a lawyer or a missionary or a pastor. God calls us to himself, to be Christian. Our ‘vocation’ is to be Christ’s disciple and to obey everything that he commanded – including the commandment to make disciples of all nations. In that sense, all Christians are ‘ministers’, called and commissioned by God to give up their lives to his service, to walk before him in holiness and righteousness, and to speak the truth in love whenever and however they can.” (p. 130) All Christians are ministers not just those who are paid and on a church staff. We and I sometimes need to be reminded of that. As it said somewhere else in the book, sometimes we may feel that since it is not our “job” then it is only the responsibility of those who are paid to minister, but that is not correct.
- “It won’t come from you going on and on about training, and harassing people until they finally sign up!” (p. 165) I like this line, because it seems like many times in our programs and events this is exactly what we are doing. I’m especially thinking of trying to get volunteers for VBS, Awana, etc. I guess that is the difficult part – switching “from using people to growing people.” (p. 19).