Ecumenical Work

It is no surprise to me that religion, and even Christianity are hot button issues. Early yesterday while I was at work one of my co-workers asked me what I used to do for a job. I told him that I was a Jr. High youth pastor. He was taken back and was quite surprised that I am now personal training. Am I really that much of a heathen? Nevertheless, he was sharing some of his viewpoints and personal beliefs and all the while we were talking about our views and not once did the conversation ever become hostile. It was a great conversation. I shared my views and he shared his. We provided commentary on what we thought the original text truly meant when it was written (read the Gospels or NT.) There are a lot of views on Jesus, the Gospels, Paul, and the New Testament, but just because I have a Masters degree from Fuller Theological Seminary does not mean that I have all the answers theologically or about God!

My co-worker and I do not see eye to on anything theological or even in religious views however, it did not mean I look down upon him nor do I think any less of him. If anything I think more of him because he’s wrestling. He’s thinking about what he believes and that’s great. Good for him. He does not have to believe what I do that is totally up to him. His decision.

However, it is not my responsibility to win him to Christ. I know many people that would have asked if I presented him with “the Gospel?” Since when did Jesus become a sales transaction? Does it really matter if I did or did not? We as Christians need to understand that God may not be using me to be the one who “CONVERTS” a new believer but merely, to be someone to show him that not all Christians are one way and to extend the love of Christ to him by forming a relationship with him. I would hope that my words are not the only reason why people come to know Jesus, but because of how I live my life. My life should be indicative of the God I serve.

Somehow, the Church has missed this as well. We get so caught up in arguing about how to witness (or whatever theological stance it may be) to someone that by the time they’re done arguing more people are leaving the Church rather than joining it. The sooner that the Church embraces the strengths in which it was founded upon and less on the personal discrepancies the sooner that people will start trusting “The Church” again, and hopefully walking back through the doors. So whatever denomination you affiliate yourself with or whatever theologian you adore we are all still in this thing together. The Bible is full of paradoxes and mysteries we will never be able to figure it all out, nor do I want to! If you want to good for you just don’t make me subscribe to your same convictions


  1. jeremy zach said...

    correction- not pastor, but director.

    Drew I thoroughly enjoyed your perspective on living in that tension the Bible paints so beautiful.

  2. St. Brianstine said...

    Sure. Good points. We're all in this together....but (being that we must argue all the time)consider Paul:

    "For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. [Picture yourself at a county fair, you throw the ring toss, "I won a Jew, I won a Jew!"] To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings."(1 Corinthians 9:19-23 ESV)

    It's all about the gospel. If not, why bother?

  3. jeremy zach said...

    Brian let me ask you a fundamental question: In your own words define the gospel. I am not talking mark/Piper's perspective of the gospel. What is your gospel message in one or two sentences.

    I read that I am thinking, okay what does it mean to share with them the gospel? Does sharing mean screaming? Does sharing mean blesses them through actions? See the problem is that the word sharing is not clear. Actually the ESV version translation does not do justice. The word is ugkoinwno.j which means to partake in the gospel. You are partaking and partnering with that individual in the gospel. So if you are going to "share"the gospel in whatever language you chose, then you will be accountable to partner along with that person.

    I like the reading of the NAU (New American Standard Updated)
    NAU 1 Corinthians 9:23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

    See, now your "proof texting" of what version to use gets a little slippery because you are trying to use a tailored translation to fit your theology. That is a big-big -big no no in the theology world.

    Come on Brian, you can do better than that.

  4. jeremy zach said...

    Also, I think it is fair for me to give my gospel message:
    Be reconciled to God. Be restored in God. Be free in God. Be right with God.

    However the scripture is "very clear" how we do this: (I am using the NIV because there are no problematic or syntax issues within the text)

    NIV 1 Peter 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,

    We be gentle in how we communicate the message.

    Secondly, we wait until God gives us the window to do it. If Drew was not sensing a window, then that is fine. God gives us the opportunity, not us.
    NIV Colossians 4:5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

    NIV Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people(YES, YOU AND I), holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

    Yes Paul is saying I do all things, but there is a framework and a limitation in which he is going to do all things.

    Brian would you jump off of a bridge for the gospel if that is what a kid wanted?

    Even how we define all things gets tricky.

    If you have not already, but I would highly recommend you get your butt over to fuller and enroll in their youth ministry program. There are some vital and pivotal tools that survey these same issues we are talking about. I would recommend the outreach class and the foundation of ym class. Talk to Jesse about it, I am sure they may even front the bill.

  5. drew girton said...


    Thanks for the comment. However, I feel my point was totally missed. It’s not always about the opportunity to present the Gospel. I like what Jeremy said, "Its how you live it," and then from there when given the opportunity to share Christ with someone you do it. People are tired of having someone force-feed them their religion. We are no longer in the modern era; therefore we need to change how we engage culture, present the Gospel, as well as many other things. The things that worked in the 50's are less effective and AT TIMES more offensive. We are not where we once were, adapt, change, and move forward don't get stuck on one way of "preaching" the Gospel. We should realize that we are not going to get it right all the time but at least have a loving and caring heart for the people that we are coming into contact with regardless if they are Christians or not.

    Yay for blogging.

  6. St. Brianstine said...

    I agree Drew. 100%.
    be there...

  7. Kay said...

    Right on, Drew.

  8. RobofPain said...

    In one sense, the ecumenical dream unleashed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), about putting the divided Christian family back together, prevailed a long time ago, and it can seem almost anachronistic to even bring it up.

    In another sense, however, it seems further out of reach than ever.

    If one defines the dream as reversing old prejudices and giving Christians a rationale for treating one another with respect, then it has overwhelmingly come true, setting aside isolated pockets of old antagonisms, such as Catholic/Protestant tensions in Northern Ireland, and fierce anti-Latin Christian sentiment among some Orthodox.

  9. jeremy zach said...

    robo cop,

    what is your point beside proving to us you have taken a modern church history class and know how to use your thesaurus?

  10. drew girton said...

    House of Pain,

    Thank you for the post. You missed my point I was not looking for the Catholic church's view of ecumenism but for the WHOLE Church to adopt a view of ecumenical work for the sake of furthering the Kingdom. I'm not looking for people to merge their traditions and denominations for the sake of having Church but to further the conversation with other people who do not know Christ so that in hopes they will see who he is and give their life to follow him.

    Jesus was a man of action (Mtt.28:19-20). Stop talking and start doing. Less we appreciate a Pharisee's garments.

  11. just a bystander said...

    Hello Drew,
    I happened to stumble upon your blog while doing a search on "truth" and found it very interesting. This post on Ecumenical Work, in particular, really hit home for me. I haven't been in seminary (though I am in youth ministry), but I have recently had a similar experience where I found myself exchanging views, beliefs, opinions, etc. with an acquaintance of mine. It was a good time of sharing and discussion without anyone getting upset or offended and there were times when we both made each other stop and think. While I didn't invite him to turn his life over to Christ, I still had the chance to respond to some of his questions and ask some of my own. Furthermore, I got to talk to him about what the Bible says on various points and why I believe in what it says. I was looking for that "opportunity," but it was not difficult to tell that he just isn't ready to receive Christ at this time. We eventually reached an impasse, but were able to agree to disagree for the time being. I hope I get to talk to him some more, but perhaps that's all God wanted me to do. I certainly agree with what you've said, Drew. Our responsibility is not to save lost souls, but merely introduce them to the One who can. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject.

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