It took the revolutionary slave abolitionist, William Wilberforce (1759-1833) 42 years of Parliamentary debate and political lobbying to succeed in his campaign. Six days before the death of John Wesley (English evangelist), Wesley wrote to Wilberforce:
"Unless God be raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and of devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery .... shall vanish away before it."
The prose created by Wesley's aged hand is recorded in the daily devotional, 'The Word for Today' published by UCB Australia based in Brisbane. Daily devotional aids are very popular amongst Christians as they provide suggested Bible readings and a short message. Even former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd read a daily devotional.
Christian history illustrates over and over again that those engaged in successful pioneer ministries, founded upon a vision, an idea and passion, need to plough through the difficulties that John Wesley predicted to Wilberforce would occur.
In the instance of Wilberforce and his mission to reach a practical objective whereby attitudes and long term behaviour needed altering, these difficulties were particularly evident. But when the Lord's touch and blessing is upon that pioneering vision, in the economy of God, that work prospers in two very specific ways.
Wider Christian community
Firstly, a pioneering ministry needs to establish itself in the hearts and minds of the wider Christian community and become recognised for its essential moral credentials.
If such a proclaimed 'Practical Christianity' ministry simply does nothing except spiritually 'navel-gaze' then it will eventually be seen for what it is, regardless of the good intentions of those involved.
Second, a good marketing campaign is needed to promote these Practical Christian ministry ideas and objectives. However, to be regarded in the same light as Wesley's famous prose, these ministries must be based on a clear and sustained Christian theology.
I recollect that these words of wisdom were given to me in the early 1980s when I was initiating the pioneer ministry of Sports and Leisure. This Ministry became highly respected for integrating Chaplains into Australian professional sports. This is record in the article on the late Bishop John Reid's role in these endeavours.
I was warned that the ministry needed to be more than a community service. It needed Christian outreach as an essential component to its success. Without theological reflection, its true worth would never be realised.
This was one of the core reasons that I requested daily prayers for his whole family and their pioneering spirit in establishing the Sports and Leisure Ministry.
After 18 successful years in the Sports and Leisure Ministry, Mark and Delma Tronson retired and moved sideways, establishing Well-Being Australia which in part specialises in athlete respite and young people gaining literary skills and being published.
I am able to look back and reflect on these successful pioneering endeavours which saw the appointment of 150 chaplaincies and the establishment of a network of Christian athletes to 1982-2000. This is recorded in the article Thanking God what's gone before.
Now in less than two weeks is another of these inaugural pioneer ministry start ups – One Day in Melbourne – Evangelicals Online, 11.00am-4.30pm at the Salvation Army Headquarters 97-99 Railway Rd, Hawthorn.
A one-day gathering for editors, writers, designers, social media mavens, authors, bloggers, self-publishers—anyone in Christian media whose aim is to maximise the Gospel. A day of specialist panellists such as platforms, design, editing, social media and blogging.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html