By Richard Chin (AFES)
Management guru “Peter Drucker” famously observes that the culture of an organisation—that is, the beliefs or values held by the majority in that organisation—will thwart any attempt to implement a strategy if it is not compatible with it. Its what employees believe and how they behave that really determines the future of an organisation—not the strategies of management. Plans fail because culture eats strategy for breakfast!
However, a thoughtful person will immediately recognise that it takes a strategy to create a culture! There can be a considered synergy between strategy and culture. And by God’s common grace, this can be helpful for ministry.
GOD’S PLANS AND STRATEGY
So, does God have plans?
Yes, he does! His plans revolve around Jesus, his beloved Son. He is besotted with his only begotten Son.
His design, which he set forth in Christ for the fullness of time, is “to unite all things in him, things in heaven and on earth” (Eph 1:10). Jesus is to be “the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom 8:29). He is the head of the body, the church (Col 1:18). Jesus is to be the pulsating centre of the Universe where “every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).
What, then, is God’s infallible strategy to accomplish his plan? It is the prayerful proclamation of Jesus Christ to all the nations through suffering.
Paul puts it this way: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Col 1:28-29)
Please note that the “everyone” in v28 occurs three times. And it refers to everyone in this world. In a sense, this is Paul’s “great commission”. He has a global horizon because of the gospel.
Notice the other elements of this strategy
1. Proclaiming Christ
This is the essence of mission. This is what we pray our brothers and sisters will do in “gospel poor” parts of the world – in public and in private, in the market place, in the public square, in the writing of letters, or even before governors, and courts! We proclaim Christ!
Proclaiming Christ means “warning everyone” about the truth of Christ. Truth matters—even when it’s unpopular; even when it brings hostility.
Proclaiming Christ involves “teaching everyone with all wisdom.” That means talking about Christ himself—in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3)—and it also means being wise in the way we proclaim Christ to different languages and cultures.
Proclaiming this Jesus has a purpose – to “present everyone mature in Christ.” This will mean walking in Christ as their Lord, rooted and built up in him, established in the faith (the gospel!), and abounding in thanksgiving. (Col 2:6-7).
Paul “struggles” to proclaim Christ (even from a prison cell!) and he does with Christ’s energy. This suffering is not redemptive like Christ’s, but it is—as John Stott so eloquently put it—“an indispensable link in the chain of their salvation”. So here is God’s infallible strategy to reach the nations. It is the prayerful proclamation of Jesus Christ to all the nations through suffering. (part 2 next week)