Scripture and the Life of Ministry

March 27, 2023

There is a crisis in pastoral confidence in ministry. The Barna Group has documented this in one of their latest studies. It has shown a steep decline in the confidence of ministers in the confidence in their calling and satisfaction in ministry.

Most preachers do not need to see this graph to know this is happening. Almost every pastor I know has played the “what would I be doing if I wasn’t in ministry” game over the past few years.

So what should we do if we find ourselves in this situation?

An Answer for Me

This is not a silver bullet prescription for everyone but rather a personal testimony of one practice that works for me. Here is what I do, I try to realign with scripture in my life and ministry.

Recently on the Firebrand Podcast Dr. Joy Moore said something that has always resonated with me. In describing her advice to students learning to be pastors she says, “Let the text do the heavy lifting.” 

The moments I am most whole in my ministry is when the text is doing the heavy lifting. The time when I have the most clarity is when I feel God is at work not myself.

I really appreciated recently reading Mike Bird’s book Seven Things I Wish Christian Knew About the Bible. There some great things in here.

Kindle told me I made 130 highlights. Mike Bird talks about scripture and the role it should play in our life: 

“Knowledge of God begins with knowledge of Scripture; so the more you know of Scripture, the more you know of God. This knowledge is necessary if we are to have a relationship with God, to be in covenant with him, to be his children, to know his Son, Jesus Christ, and to experience the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. A lack of knowledge is not just ignorance; it is alienation from God, estrangement from God’s love, and separation from God’s offer of reconciliation.”1

Bird does make sure to clarify:

“I think it is important to stress that knowledge about God is not enough; it is knowledge of God in tandem with faith in God that matters.”2

For me, this goes back to looking at my life and asking some questions.

The first two questions are about my spiritual rhythms and come from John Wesley’s questions for spiritual formation:

  • Did the Bible live in me today?
  • Did I give it time to speak to me today?3

The other has to do with my thoughts (and theology) about scripture. Does my life really look like I believe “the Old and New Testaments are the primary rule and authority for faith, morals, and service, against which all other authorities must be measured”?

The times in the life of my ministry where I am the most fresh are when I am putting into practice and thinking about these disciplines.


Do I think these will automatically make the declining trends turn around in the opposite direction? I am not sure. However, for me, this is always a good place to start by checking in with my thoughts and rhythms.

As Isaiah 40:8 (NRSV) reminds us, “The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand for ever.”


1Bird, Michael F. Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible. Zondervan, 2021. page 150

2Bird, Michael F. Seven Things I Wish Christians Knew about the Bible. Zondervan, 2021. page 153

3Goshorn, Ted. Prayer Changes US. South Carolina United Methodist Advocate Press, 2022. page 115


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