The "Two Texts" of Ministry

Maybe the most helpful excerpt from CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet:

In ministry we are reading "two texts" simultaneously, the story of Scripture and the story of the person we serve. In ministry we must always have one eye on the biblical text and one eye on the individual. Or better, our gaze constantly shifts between the two. Reading the Bible without reading the person is a recipe for irrelevance in ministry. Reading the person without reading the Bible is a recipe for ministry lacking the life-changing power of the the Spirit working through His Word.

When we read Scripture, we notice details that reveal the pastoral intentions of a text for its original audience ("original context"). We also expect to see how the themes of the passage relate to the rest of the Bible and, most particularly, to the climax of redemption in Christ ("expanded context"). When we read people, we are attentive to the details of their lives. We discover how these details fit into their experience as saints, sufferers, and sinners. This helps us understand the God-centered or self-centered story lines by which they live.

Our ultimate goal is application, the place where these two readings come together to bear good fruit--greater love for God and for others. Application happens when people "inhabit" the worldview of the text in such a way that they gain gospel-centered clarity and direction for their situation--and act on it. This is what connecting Scripture and life is all about! The goal of reading Scripture is not merely to produce an accurate, detailed outline of the passage. Nor is it simply to gain an understanding of how a text might have impacted its original audience. Nor is it a whiz-band, jaw-dropping, creative connection of the passage to the person and work of Christ. Nor is it to generate a list of action steps to take. Similarly, the goal of reading people does not stop with understanding the particulars of their lives as saints, sufferers, and sinners. Those insights alone will not bring change. Rather, the goal of reading Scripture and reading people together is so that we can help others increasingly reflect the character and kingdom priorities of Jesus Christ. The goal of connecting Scripture with life is nothing less than changed lives, a changed community, and a changed world, as people listen to the God who speaks truth and love. This is CrossTalk in action!

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