The Big Idea

So what’s the big idea behind this blog?  It’s this: history guides ministry.

Who to turn to?

Today is a tough time for the Christian Church, and for those who would do ministry in today’s church.  This won’t be a place where the reasons for the difficulty will be explored.  That is being done in many other places.  And while I have my ideas, I am not qualified to examine beyond my own situation.

I have always found it hard to really turn to anyone for help and guidance in doing ministry in my particular context.  I am the pastor of a small to mid-size church in an urban area on the East Coast.  There are lots of such churches.  But, every ministry context is unique, and no one really can tell you what will work in your exact and unique church.  So what do you do?

The Great Cloud of Witnesses

I have found a rich source of help in the history of the church.  Everything we face today Christians faced in the past.  Yes we have a lot they didn’t have, especially in terms of technology and scientific knowledge.  But there is little difference between our wrestling with understanding the impact of social media today than Christians of yesteryear trying to adapt to the life-changing invention of the printing press.  We can learn much about the issues we face by delving into how that “great cloud of witnesses” responded to the challenges of their own day.

Over the years I have dug deeper into studying the history of the church as I have wrestled with what to do in ministry. I have taught classes to a Sunday School along the way because teaching something is a great way to learn something.  We have made decisions about how we do church in a variety of ways in light of what we have learned.  A knowledge of history has become an indispensable part of my own work in ministry.

Through the Lens of History

Source: "Life Through the Lens", Jay Harrison,

I have named this blog “Ministry Through the Lens of History”, drawing on the idea that learning what Christians have done in the past is like putting on a pair of glasses which help you see everything before you more clearly.  Knowing something of how ministry has been done in the past sharpens the challenges and questions before us, and removes some of the fuzziness of the daily work of being the church.

This is the place to look through that lens and reflect on what I can learn.  And you are welcome to come along.

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