Search our archive:

« Back to Issue 14


By Paul Beasley-Murray.

Ministry is tough!

The first sermon I preached in my present church was on 1 Cor 16.9, where Paul writes: "I will stay... for a wide door for effective work has opened to me".

I sought in my sermon to speak of the opportunities for Christian mission today. I admitted that in many ways the UK is a depressing mission field, with each new census revealing the church in ever greater decline. The Christian church is becoming increasingly marginalised and its ministry is viewed as increasingly irrelevant. Indeed, its ministers have been likened to charcoal burners and alchemists, engaged in processes long obsolete and intellectually untenable. However, I maintained that in spite of decline there are signs of hope. One of the signs of hope is that, although many people may have given up on church, they find it difficult to shut God out of their lives. In this post-Christian, post-modern age, people are still searching for meaning and values. Here is a door of opportunity for the Gospel.

The sermon, however, did not just focus on the opportunities for effective mission. I went on to also deal with the latter part of the text, "and there are many adversaries". Although not a fundamentalist, I believe in the reality of the demonic, and that wherever there is opportunity for the Gospel, there is always opposition. It's my conviction that the Devil doesn't bother to oppose a lame-duck enterprise - but he is concerned where there is an individual or group of people who really mean business with God.

As most ministers have discovered to their cost, such opposition does not always come from without the church, but all too often from within. In the words of one wit, "Who needs enemies, when you've got members like that?!". There is a well-known apocryphal story about a young minister in his first church visiting one of the church's elder statesmen. In an attempt to make conversation he began, "You must have seen a great many ministers in your time". "Yes", replied the old man, "and I've been against them all". Sadly there are far too many people within our churches who wish to hold onto forms of worship or organisational structures, which though good in their time, now obstruct the church from going out in mission. In the process of seeking to bring about the necessary changes, all too often ministers get hurt themselves. True, sometimes ministers have only themselves to blame - they may, for instance, have failed to understand even the basics of the management of change. Time and again, however, the root difficulty is actually the sinfulness and stubbornness to be found in the hearts of God's people.

Yes, ministry is tough. It is not without significance that one of the aims of the RBIM is to enable ministers to "survive". Hopefully this very issue of Ministry Today will be of help to those for whom survival is currently the name of the game. Certainly in this context the articles by Martin Thorne and Roland Riem make for stimulating reading. Having said that, the longer I have reflected on my own calling to ministry, the more I have become conscious of the necessary place of the Cross in ministry. 'Suffering' - whether it take the form of mis-understanding, rejection or pain - is surely to be expected for those who follow the Crucified. The great compensation however is that along with 'death' there is also 'resurrection'.

Yours in the thick of it all (!),

Paul Beasley-Murray

Paul Beasley-Murray

Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford<br>and Chair of Ministry Today

Ministry Today

You are reading Editorial by Paul Beasley-Murray, part of Issue 14 of Ministry Today, published in October 1998.

Who Are We?

Ministry Today aims to provide a supportive resource for all in Christian leadership so that they may survive, grow, develop and become more effective in the ministry to which Christ has called them.

Around the Site

© Ministry Today 2024