Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry


Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord. IVP Academic, 2010.

Prequel: Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry

Referenced in: Summary

This is a companion volume to Crucifixion of Ministry, both written by Andrew Purves, one of today’s most respected pastoral theologians. It builds upon the resurrection as a theological basis for renewing one’s hope and sense of calling.

Operating from a Reformed heritage that is deeply respectful of the authority of Scripture and the historic Christian faith, Purves reasons from the events of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, especially as they are played out in the tradition of Holy Week – Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday, and then to Easter Sunday. Even for those whose faith traditions do not observe the Christian calendar in this way, the combination provides a very helpful perspective on the nature of ministry. Purves describes it this way:

In my previous book The Crucifixion of Ministry, I used the intentionally shocking imaging that God kills our ministries when they get into the center of things. Our ministries are not redemptive; only the ministry of Jesus is redemptive. So our messianic pretensions are killed by God. In this sequel I will look at the resurrection of ministry. God raises up our ministries on their proper ground in the ministry of the resurrected and ascended Jesus, and we minster therefore in the joy and hope of his life. Through the Holy Spirit binding up into union with Jesus, we share in both his resurrected life and his resurrected ministry. (11)

In contrast to this, Purves says “many of us are stuck in the mood of ambiguity and powerlessness of Holy Saturday,” the day after the crucifixion and just before the resurrection. It is a time of “almost” ministry, when we know the challenges of ministry (crucifixion) but experience the relative darkness of not knowing what God may do next. He continues:

The contrast between ministry in the mood of Holy Saturday and ministry if the mood of Easter Sunday is illustrated by the comparison of Jesus’ disciples before the Easter appearances and after the ascension. …Consider the following contrasts: inward-looking self-preservation versus expansive, outgoing evangelism; return to the old days versus a new, hitherto unimaginable future; grief versus joy; doubt versus praise; fearfulness and hiding versus courage that goes public, defying the judicial injunction to remain silent (Acts 4:18-20); disbelief versus conviction; confusion versus clarity. In sum, “God help us,” versus, “Hallelujah, Jesus lives.”

Practically, for ministers who are in the discouraging throes of their own conditions:

The contrast is between ministry focused on ourselves – missional timidity and ecclesiastical maintenance that protects and preserves what we have, with a vague though uncertain hope for continued life – or ministry that bursts forth in creative, overflowing desire to tell the world, ‘Jesus is risen! Imagine the astonished newspaper headline: ‘Church Affirms that Jesus Is Alive, and Lives Believing It’s True.’ It is the differences between ministry without power, because everything is left up to us to do, leaving us anxious and exhausted, and ministry filled with joy and hope because the Lord not only lives but also reigns and acts in power for us. (17)

He warns, however, this is not simply another mechanism for encouraging the beleaguered.

Clearly then the resurrection of ministry is not first of all about new life for our ministries. Neither is it a metaphor for getting ministry kick-started again because of a newfound attitude or program of ministry renewal. I am after something much more radical than these proposals, worthy and legitimate as they are, no doubt. My argument is that the resurrection of ministry is first of all about the resurrection of Jesus’ ministry. Because Jesus is raised, he not only has a new life but his ministry has a new future. Jesus raised and ascended, with work to do, is the basis for joy and the ground for hope, as much with regard to ministry as it is with regard to faith. (18)

This is an excellent pastoral theology in the spirit of the resurrection. I recommend it not only for those who wish to build a theology of ministry based on historic Christian faith, but also for those whose discouragement or burnout need fresh infusion of how the central events of the death and resurrection shape Christian ministry.

**For a summary, click here for the Kindle Version, go to right column, and download the free sample. If you don’t have a free Kindle Reader on your computer, there’s a link for that too.

From the Publisher

Many who go into ministry with expectancy and optimism find instead discouragement and regret. Is there a hope for renewal, for a new taste of God’s grace in serving his people?

With Christ, Andrew Purves reminds us, we move beyond ministry in the mood of Holy Saturday to ministry in the mood of Easter Sunday. And there we find the true basis of hope in ministry. Purves, a seasoned teacher of practical theology, offers a profound look at the nature of spiritual service that gets beyond superficial critiques and simplistic techniques. He points to true, deep joy and hope as we share in Christ’s continuing ministry.

  • Provides a trenchant analysis of the nature of ministry
  • Gets below the superficial critiques and moves beyond simplistic techniques to joy and hope for sharing in Christ’s ministry
  • Makes a valuable preparatory resource for students starting out in Christian ministry
  • Offers a source of spiritual renewal for those currently in ministry and facing burnout
  • A companion volume to Purves’s Crucifixion of Ministry

About the Author

Andrew Purves is professor of Reformed theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books, including Reconstructing Pastoral Theology: A Christological Foundation and The Crucifixion of Ministry.

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