Prepared For Unscheduled Ministry

From Paul Tripp Ministries

The central mission of God’s kingdom on earth is spiritual life transformation. And God chooses to use people, who are themselves in need of transformation, as instruments of the same transformation in the lives of others.

But how? In simple terms, God accomplishes this work as the Holy Spirit empowers his people to bring his Word to others.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:15-16).

This passage is often applied, and appropriately so, to the public preaching and teaching of the Word. Another term you could use is the “formal ministry” of the church—whether that be worship services, adult and children’s Sunday school, men’s, women’s, and youth ministry, or mid-week small groups.

While these scheduled times of teaching the Word are vitally important, much more personal ministry goes on during the week—or, at least according to the biblical model, it should.

Recall Ephesians 4:11-16 from last week. God has appointed his church with leaders, not to bear the full ministry load of the body of Christ, but to equip each member to join in his work of personal transformation.

In the same way, the times of formal, public ministry are meant to train God’s people for personal ministry, which is meant to be the lifestyle of the body of Christ.

And, which happens much more frequently during any given week.

Suppose your sister in Christ calls you, dismayed that she found explicit material on her son’s phone. Maybe your brother in the Lord shares a profound struggle with you on the golf course. Perhaps you observe a fellow believer and close friend behaving inappropriately and dishonoring the Lord.

No matter what you do next, your response will provide biblical counsel and be a form of ministry to the other person. Yet we usually approach such situations much more casually than we do formal, public ministry.

If you were asked to teach a Sunday school lesson, preach a sermon, or lead a Bible study, you would invest considerable time to prepare.

Do we approach these personal ministry moments with the same amount of training, prayer, or study of the Word?

Of course, these moments are rarely scheduled, can often take us completely off guard, and typically require an immediate response. I’m not suggesting that the next time someone comes to you in a crisis, you ask them to wait a week while you prepare a full-blown Bible study!

Rather, it’s about the weight of importance we ought to put on the biblical counsel we share during these moments of personal ministry. And therefore, the investment of time we put into our preparedness to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands during the moments of personal ministry.

God intends for these personal ministry interactions to be used to apply the transforming power of Scripture to people’s hearts and lives. His Word is our primary tool of change, and his Spirit our primary source of help.

But we need to prepare and be ready.

If we’re going to invest hours of study before teaching the Word publicly (as we should), we can’t be satisfied letting improvised words of counsel, cobbled together from some life experience and opinion, fly off our tongue in these moments of unscheduled personal ministry.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

A Prayer for Today: Lord, would you prepare my heart and convict me to be a person who is a student of your Word on a regular basis that I might be an instrument in your hands for any kind of conversation that comes my way? Would you use me in the lives of others around me to communicate truth in love, and would that communication be the kind that is saturated by the Scriptures? Thank you for using me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

God bless,

Paul David Tripp



Discussion Prompt for Children

Why do you think it’s important to be prepared for conversations with other people who need wise and godly advice? How can you and I prepare now so we don’t feel overwhelmed and surprised by unexpected conversations in the future?

Reflection Questions

1. When was a time when you felt completely underprepared for a spiritual conversation that crept up on you? How did you respond in the moment? Did that conversation go the way you would have liked for it to go? Why or why not? In your opinion, what made that conversation successful or unsuccessful? What could you have said differently in that conversation to skew it toward the “successful” side?

2. What would it look like for you to be prepared for “unscheduled” ministry in your life? How might Bible study, intentional prayer time, thoughtful reflection, journaling, Scripture memory, etc. be a part of your preparation for those ministry moments? Are you taking personal time to prepare for those inevitable ministry moments?

3. Take a moment to reflect on 2 Timothy 4:2 again, and ask the Lord to help you be a person who is prepared to preach the Word to others. Now make a list of 5-10 people in your regular circle of influence (friends, neighbors, family members, etc.) who you’d like for God to provide you with an opportunity to talk with them about the gospel, and pray that the Lord would open up doors for you to engage in those gospel conversations with them. Now with those future conversations in mind, how might you personally prepare to talk with each one of those people on your list? Study the Bible to those ends, and ask God to make you a willing instrument in his hands when the time comes.

Prepared For Unscheduled Ministry

New Hope Presbyterian Church Bridgeton, NJ

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