The Next Big Thing
A guest post by Ashley Hibbard
30 years ago, Church Leadership was going to fix our problems and get us moving in the right direction so all the people would come to Jesus.
20 years ago, seeker churches were going to make church fun and cool and all the people would come to Jesus.
10 years ago, the anti-church “just get together and hang out” folks were going to round up all the people who thought church was boring and bring them to Jesus
And today we’ve got disciple-making movements, that are going to be authentic and holistic and Spirit led and bring all the people to Jesus.
There’s something in humanity that when faced with hard work finds it necessary to look for a hack. There’s something in humanity that seems to constantly cast about for the Next Big Thing that’s going to solve The Problem. We do it with diets and exercise and cooking and child-rearing and education . . . and with church.
Each of the means and methods above bore some fruit (except maybe the anti-church nonsense). Each of the means and methods were trying to fix flaws in our practice of church life and ministry.
But the methods that scripture gives us are unchanging and pretty boring. Scripture gets read (Deuteronomy 31:10-13; Nehemiah 8:1-8; 1 Timothy 4:13). Teachers teach (Malachi 2:6-7; 1 Timothy 4:13). God’s people seek him in prayer (too many places to name!). And sometimes God’s people do it and see no fruit (Isaiah 6:8-10). And sometimes God’s people do it and thousands are saved (Acts 2:41). And those results depend on the Holy Spirit. There are no hacks in the work of gospel ministry. There are no Big Things that guarantee results. There’s only faithfulness to a sovereign God who uses his servants according to his purposes, and not ours.
Ashley Hibbard is currently a research associate at the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence, and adjunct faculty at Emmanuel Bible College in Kitchener, Ontario. She has a BRE from Great Lakes Bible College (2010), and an M.Div. from Heritage Theological Seminary (2014), and a Ph.D. with Trinity College Bristol/ University of Aberdeen.