In this series I want to draw your attention to this Trinitarian benediction of 2 Corinthians in order to remind you of what has always been true: the character and work of the triune God define and inform the heart of pastoral ministry. In 2 Corinthians 13:14, hidden in plain sight, is a wonderfully succinct model for pastoral ministry. Paul’s pastoral ministry was theologically informed. Moreover, it was thoroughly Trinitarian—he references each member of the Godhead in his benediction. And it was shaped by a clear understanding of the Trinity’s disposition toward the church: in the gospel, the triune God extends to us his amazing grace, his immeasurable love, and his gracious fellowship.
Are you looking for a model upon which to build your ministry? If you have been a pastor for more than a few weeks, no doubt you have heard the calls for a new kind of ministry to meet the challenges of a modern world. Hardly a week goes by without a new article, another survey, a large conference, or a new book on church growth, all proclaiming that time-tested ways of doing ministry no longer work. Something entirely new is needed, they tell us. Stephen Wellum captures the current mood: “Around us on every side are calls to ‘revision’ Christian theology, to ‘re-imagine’ evangelism, to ‘re-think’ how we do church, and even to ‘rearticulate’ the very nature of the gospel for our postmodern times.”¹
But as John Piper has proclaimed for decades, a biblically faithful ministry model needs no revising. What we are after is not novelty but faithfulness, not new paths but old ones, not the power of cool but the power of the gospel. Scripture is not silent on what leadership in the church should look like. It is fitting for us to reexamine a biblical definition of ministry.
Pastor, if you are looking for a model for ministry, you’ll find it here: 2 Corinthians 13:14. Through our prayers, our preaching, our counseling, and all facets of our leadership, we must position those we serve to experience the grace of the Son, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
This post is part of an 11-part series, The Pastor and the Trinity, excerpted from the chapter “The Pastor and the Trinity” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, ©2010. Used by permission of Crossway.
1 Stephen J. Wellum, “Learning from John Today,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 10, no. 3 (Fall 2006): 2.