With the hope to reach “one more for the gospel,” a church in Southern California has set out to train ministry leaders – both lay and pastoral – for more effective ministry.
Christ Central of Southern California aims to do so through a six-week summer program called LEAD (Leadership, Edification, and Development), featuring guest speakers who teach about various topics related to ministry, such as handling interpersonal conflict, or answering questions posed by millennials, among others. Leaders of churches outside of Christ Central have also been invited to and in attendance at the weekly seminars.
The most recent seminar, which took place on July 13, featured Reverend Owen Lee from Christ Central Presbyterian Church of Centreville, VA, and focused on helping ministers stay spiritually healthy.
“It’s possible for you to work very hard for Jesus, while walking very far from Jesus,” said Lee. “My hope is that you would want to walk with Jesus and enjoy Him personally.”
There are multiple ways to “fight for our faith,” as Lee put it, such as corporate worship, personal worship, and other disciplines such as fasting or solitude. But in addition to those, Lee suggested two more ways to ensure spiritual health while doing ministry: “preaching the gospel to yourself,” and “meeting in a safe community in which others can preach the gospel to you.”
Preaching the gospel to oneself involves a method that Lee called the “Gospel Waltz” – a cycle which contains three steps.
It begins when a believer is convicted of sin, and she then comes to God and repents of that sin. But that repentance must be twofold: a repentance of the surface sin, and a repentance of the root sin that led to the surface sin.
For instance, Lee said, suppose a Christian lied. That would be the surface sin. But the Christian must probe deeper and uncover the idols that led to the lie.
“Why did you lie? If you were worried about what people would think of you, maybe reputation is an idol for you,” said Lee.
Then, she moves on to the second part of the Gospel Waltz: believing in the forgiveness and salvation that God freely gives. This is a step that many often carry out “mechanically” and move on from too quickly, Lee said.
“You have to sit here for a while and let it marinate,” he explained. “This is where we wrestle with God, to be moved again by the beauty of the gospel.”
“To fight for your faith, it takes energy and time,” added Lee.
Finally, she asks the Holy Spirit what God would have her do in that situation, and obey. The cycle begins again when the believer fails to obey, and sins once again.
Lee added that leaders need a community of safe people in which this can be done together – “a community of confidantes to fight for our faith.”
“The more I confess by sins to you, the more protected I am from my sin,” he said. “It is better to be embarrassed in front of my friends, than to be enslaved by my sin trying to keep it to myself.”
He encouraged those present to be “vigilant” in fighting for their faith.
“What our churches need most from us as ministers, whether ordained ministers or lay ministers, is our personal holiness,” he concluded. “That we’re actually believing for ourselves what we’re telling them to believe … that we’re not just telling people how good Jesus is but we’re telling them because we have personally tasted his goodness for ourselves … that what we do is an accurate reflection of what is actually going on in our own lives.”