Monday
Oct242011

Anderson, The Soul of Ministry

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Ray S. Anderson, The Soul of Ministry: Forming Leaders for God’s People. Westminster John Knox, 1997.

Referenced in: Pastoral Theology

LifeandLeaership.com Summary

This book will be appreciated by all who are hungry for theological grounding for their ministries. Ray Anderson is a respected professor of “pastoral” theology. This is the written refinement of all his years of teaching and reflection on the subject. Though deeply theological, the style is inspiring and personal, full of illustrations from the practice of ministry. He says, “The thrust of this book points toward God’s mission and ministry as succinctly captured in this verse: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) This ministry of God is to the world, for the sake of the world, and it is in the world that the continuing ministry of Christ is carried out by the people of God.” (viii)

The book is divided into six parts. Part 1 explains the nature of the theological task as it pertains to ministry. He insists that God’s ministry precedes theology:

All of God’s actions in history are what we mean by God’s ministry. Ministry is first of all what God does by speaking and acting within the framework of human history. God’s actions reveal God’s existence and make possible true knowledge of God. It is God’s ministry that expounds God’s nature and purpose. In obedience and response to God’s ministry, we gain knowledge of God and of ourselves. This obedient response to God’s ministry becomes our ministry which, in turn, serves as a theological exposition of God’s nature and purpose. (3) …Ministry is God’s way of reaffirming and expounding the truth of who God is and what God wishes to reveal through what he has said and done. (7)

Interestingly, he says the beginning of a theology of ministry is not found in Genesis, but in Exodus, with Moses as the first theologian whose narrative of deliverance becomes the backdrop of all of God’s activities. The remainder of the book uses a Trinitarian base to trace God’s ministry throughout scripture into the present day.

Part 2 – God’s Ministry in Covenant and Creation: Dwells on four expressions of God that have special bearing on ministry: the word of God which creates the response, the grace of God which presupposes barrenness, the covenant of God which precedes creation, and the Sabbath of God which renews and restores.

Part 3 – Jesus’ Ministry to the Father on Behalf of the World: Develops the significance of Jesus’ baptism as a commencement of his messianic ministry, in which as the anointed he is the servant of the Father on behalf of the world as well as sent to the world on behalf of the Father. Stresses the crucial place of the resurrection as a God’s justification of Jesus and the affirming verdict of the Father.

Part 4 – The Spirit’s Ministry through Jesus for the Sake of the Church: Shows how the Spirit’s outpouring at Pentecost empowers and liberates us for ministry, and through the charisma (gifts) shapes a ministry community with the aim of the formation of Christ in the world. He warns against equipping people without empowering them. He says, “Before we attempt to load people up with methods and equip them with concepts and theories of ministry, we need to empower them by having them learn spiritual empowerment in their daily lives.” (116)

Part 5 – The Church’s Ministry to the World on Behalf of Jesus: Unfolds the significance of the church as “apostolic” or “sent” into the world as a community who function as sacrament of forgiveness and healing as a well as an advocate for the abused and oppressed in the world.

Part 6 – Leading God’s People in the Ministry of Christ: Focuses on three qualities of servant leadership: a creative vision that inspires, a delegated power that enables, and a spiritual gift for ministry.

From the Publisher

Ray Anderson offers an inspiring call for Christian leaders to view Jesus as a model for their own ministry today. The Soul of Ministry explores the idea of ministry across denominations and discovers its soul in God’s love for the world. Designed for pastors of all denominations, this book combines social biblical theology with numerous real-life anecdotes from Anderson’s teaching and ministry.

About the Author

Ray S. Anderson was Professor Emeritus of Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.


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