If I were to ask most ministry leaders what role the Bible plays in their efforts to reach and grow people, I’m sure the resounding answer would be that God’s Word is central or valuable. But, sometimes, when I observe ministries or even assess my own, I find that it’s easy to make the Bible an ornament to be observed rather than an instrument to be used.
We’re still three months away from Christmas, but I’m already excited. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, so around my house, we go a little crazy. The hardest part about the whole Christmas season isn’t setting up all the decorations—that’s usually a ton of fun and everyone in the family helps in some way or another. It isn’t taking it all down and boxing it up. No, the hardest part about the whole season is helping my kids know the difference between the decorations that are intended to only be seen and the decorations that can be interacted with.
Take the nativity sets for example. We have two that are handmade and have been in our family for decades. These sets have two purposes—to display some family history and to remind us and our guests about the amazing story of Christ’s birth. They are fragile and meant to only to be observed. On the other hand, we have one nativity set that is made by a toy company. It’s plastic, BPA-free, and intended to be used, not just seen. This one has two purposes also—to help teach our kids the Christmas story and to be played with, chewed on, stepped on, and everything else that happens to toys in a home with four young kids.
I think, oftentimes, we treat the Bible like a fine ornament to be left on the mantle to be seen for the sake of perception. When instead, it ought to be central to our ministry, informing our language and practice as we train our people how to walk with the Lord.
Here are three ways to move toward Bible-centrality in your ministry.
1. Teach from the Bible rather than about the Bible.
Thank God for Google! It’s a tool we’ve all used. But, because of it, more information is easy to come by. If we want to ensure the Bible is central to our ministries, don’t just give people more facts for Bible trivia games, but instead show them the beauty, power, and effectiveness of the Word by teaching from the Bible. This will include drawing out principles, truths, and applications from the text you are teaching. Show people how to dig into the text rather than just gather information about it.
2. Teach from a real Bible rather than an electronic Bible.
I know, I know—I’m a bit old school with this. But, I believe that when people see you holding and reading from a real Bible, there is a visual reinforcement of the centrality of Scripture. I’m as thankful as anyone for the advancements in technology that have allowed me to have access to the Bible anywhere I go. I love the convenience of this. But, I also believe that people learn not only by what they hear but also what they see. This seems like an easy way to add weight to the centrality of the Bible in your ministry.
3. Teach from a love for the Bible rather than an obligation to the Bible.
I believe that if you teach from your love for the Bible, it will develop a similar passion in others. Now, this isn’t something you can manipulate or fake for people. You can tell when someone has a deep love for Scripture because it resonates with those around them. A passion like this feeds deep study and the text working first on the communicator before the audience.
What role is the Bible playing in your ministry? Is it an ornament that you set up for people to see, or is it an integral, hands-on tool that is central to your ministry? The Bible is meant to be an essential instrument to be used not a distant ornament only to be observed. What place does the Bible have in your ministry?
Steven Ackley, his wife Emily, and their four kids live out their love for anything sports and Cookout milkshakes in Murfreesboro, TN where Steven serves as the NextGen and College Pastor at LifePoint Church. Steven holds a D.Min. and an MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can connect with him on Twitter.