What is the Symbol of Your Ministry? A Bible or a Cell Phone?

Tuesday is for Preaching

This interview with John Stott by Al Mohler was done in 1987 and was republished on his BLOG this week in honor of John Stott. You can read the whole interview here. I have excerpted the final paragraphs below because of their relevance to  all pastors but maybe especially church planters.

As church planters we tend to be activists. The task is so great, the battles are so numerous in the whole church planting arena, we can tend to forget the very thing that John Stott underscores here–our time with God in his word is the anchor and support to our entire ministry. 

We Belong in a Study, Not an Office

Mohler: You are probably as well known in America as in England. Furthermore, you know America — its churches and its preachers. What would be your word to the Servants of the Word on this side of the Atlantic?

Stott: I think my main word to American preachers is, as Stephen Olford has often said, that we belong in a study, not in an office. The symbol of our ministry is a Bible — not a telephone [or a cell phone!]. We are ministers of the Word, not administrators, and we need to relearn the question of priority in every generation.

The Apostles were in danger of being diverted from the ministry to which they had been called by Jesus — the ministry of Word and prayer. They were almost diverted into a social ministry for squabbling widows.

Now both are important, and both are ministries, but the Apostles had been called to the ministry of the Word and not the ministry of tables. They had to delegate the ministry of the tables to other servants. We are not Apostles, but there is the work of teaching that has come to us in the unfolding of the apostolic message of the New Testament. This is our priority as pastors and preachers.

Jesus preached to the crowds, to the group, and to the individual. He had the masses, the disciples, and individuals coming to Him. He preached to crowds, taught the disciples, and counseled individuals. We must also have this focus. It is all in the ministry of the Word.”

Remember these words brothers. A Bible, a pen, and a notepad make a man powerful for the duties and challenges of our task. Even if the pen and the notepad are replaced by a screen and a keyboard, there is no substitute for …

  • time brooding over a text 
  • in submission to the authority of the text
  • under the guidance of the One who inspired the text
  • for the glory of the One to whom the text points.

Keep at this work even when the clamor from others is that you take up the work that rightfully belongs to others in the church.

2 thoughts on “What is the Symbol of Your Ministry? A Bible or a Cell Phone?

  1. This is so true, and now it goes beyond a cell phone to twitter accounts, facebook profiles, blogs, etc. It’s not that these things are bad (I’d argue they can be used for great good), but if they are a distraction from the things God has called you to, then they’re dangerous. Great reminder to do what God has called us to do with single-mindedness and laser-like focus! Thanks for sharing


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