Do you catch yourself being judge-y of other people's ministry? Do you find yourself wondering how a particular worship style allows people to engage with Jesus? Have you ever been guilty of questioning the foundation of someone's ministry?
Maybe you haven't experienced one of these exact examples, but I'm sure you've at some point had a query, question, or doubt about the outworking of someone else's ministry.
If you still don't relate, then you are doing incredibly well at not trying to take God's place. However, if this tendency to have a judgemental opinion crops up in your life every now and then, I invite you to read on.
God is God and I am not
When we try to make judgements on other people's ministry, we are trying to put ourselves in the place of God. It's a good thing our attempts to claim the throne never work in our favour. But what if God taking His rightful place on the throne means that we're not going to understand how He operates as King? Firstly we need to come to terms with the fact that God's understanding is so far beyond ours, and His ways are not like our ways, and the ministry styles He inspires and uses may not always make sense to us personally.
I was recently studying different approaches to Christ-centred communities in contexts where religion is culture. What should it look like when new believers from other religious backgrounds form communities within their own context? Which parts of their cultural identity are religious? What of their cultural and religious forms and practices can be maintained as they become disciples of Jesus?
New believers adapt their lifestyle to varying degrees, classified along a religious spectrum. There are many workers ministering in different ways to these people, with varying opinions on which way is best. It was suggested that the different approaches, the different workers, the different methods, were all just an expression of God's diversity in choosing and using countless scenarios to bring people to Himself.
Responding to God's Diversity
I'm sure that for every kind of ministry, there are at least two ways it could be done, if not one thousand! It is at this point that we, as fellow believers, need to make a choice. We get to choose our response to the ministry methods and approaches, styles and choices, of fellow Christians who are working toward building the Kingdom.
We can take the common route, the worldly route. We can try to tear down, to judge, and in our pride suggest a 'better' way. But who says that making a new vehicle to deliver the same Gospel is wrong, or worse than your idea? What if it's working for the people involved?
Given that the fundamentals of the ministry are Biblically sound, how can we be anything but supportive? Have you considered that God works in an incomprehensible amount of ways, and to doubt another person's ministry is to judge the creativity of God to bring people to Himself in a diverse manner of ways?
Whether we choose not to personally adopt a given ministry style, or even if we don't agree with it, I believe we are called to one response. And I'm sorry, but it's not judgement.
We should respond to all biblically sound ministry methods, whether we understand them or agree with them, with prayer and encouragement. Through intentionally praying for those we disagree with or don't understand, through choosing to encourage their efforts, we choose to partner with whatever God is doing in and through them. This has all the potential for going right, opening your mind to the possibility of learning to trust in God's creativity and diversity as His Kingdom extends on earth.
I find 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, verses 5-11 really speaks to the togetherness we are called to as we work on all levels and spectrums of the ultimate Kingdom building strategy:
"You are all children of the light and children of the day ... putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. He died for us so that ... we may live together with him.Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."
So next time you find yourself getting on your throne of judgement, hope back off, put on your breastplate of faith and love, put your helmet of the hope of salvation on your head, and choose encouragement, uplifting words and actions, and pray—for them, for their ministry, and for your heart to be open to the ways the Lord chooses to work.