Tools Of Ministry

Rev. Dr. Debra Griffis Woodberry, Pinnacle Associate
Remembering the Girl Scout motto of “Always be Prepared”, I have a basic tool bag in my SUV. Included are a flat and Phillip’s head screwdriver, a pair of regular and needle-nose pliers, a hammer, nails, screws, an adjustable wrench, a small set of allen wrenches, a roll of duck tape, a can of WD40, some bungee cords, and of course a flash light.

It is important to have the right tool for the right job. Today’s church needs the right tools for navigating our way in today’s world.

Preaching is a primary tool of ministry.
Most pastors devote a lot of energy in sermon preparation and delivery. We spend a good bit of time engaging the text of the week, praying for the enlightening of the Holy Spirit, reading or listening to what scholars say, looking for points “that will preach”, crafting our words with nuanced perspective. For the preacher, Sundays come quickly sometimes and the work can be exhausting. Some say that preaching is becoming obsolete for the postmodern church. Yikes! If that is true, many of us will lose one of our basic tools for ministry. Certainly, we must hone our skills, employ technology, embrace the arts and speak with contemporary words to keep preaching a relevant tool for ministry. Preaching is not a lecture about God and the Bible. It is a Holy Conversation where God speaks to the hearts and minds of others. Listeners can ingest words and visuals and claim meaning in brokenness, direction for life, and purpose for being.

The ability to see the face of God in every person before us is an effective tool of ministry.
Our nation is divided and polarized. Friends and family have become enemies because of political or theological differences. How can we possibly embrace the foreigner, take care of the orphans, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, if we continue to make our personal circles of influence a place of rejection of those with whom we disagree?

The courage to embrace the new is another important tool of ministry.
I admit it, I enjoy coffee from Starbucks and other specialty coffee shops. I have from the early days of college simply enjoyed brewed coffee with cream and sugar. About a decade ago I ventured into the world of specialty coffee. I had to learn a new language. At first, I was intimidated with the words venti, grande, cappuccino, latte, etc. Now with absolute confidence and certainty of purpose I like to order a grande caramel macchiato with honey. Because God is dynamic, a new word from the holy comes often. Jesus talked about new wine and old wineskins. We are challenged to have the courage to taste the new wine.

The commitment to live in the way of God’s love is a required tool of ministry.
Jesus called it the greatest commandment; to love God with all one’s being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. It does not matter whether we are traditional or contemporary in worship, conservative, liberal or progressive in theology, meeting in a stained glass sanctuary, a storefront or a bar, singing praise songs or traditional hymns. However we are church in the world, the foundational piece is commitment to living into the greatest commandment.

Let’s grab our tool boxes because the world needs fixing.