A map for biblical ministry
A review of Allan Chapple's book, 'Ministry under the Microscope'
To understand Christian ministry, we should not begin with ourselves but with the Lord Jesus (26). This is, I think, the great reminder we need from Chapple’s book. While we are tempted to look for how-to manuals, Ministry Under the Microscope lays down a map of what biblical ministry looks like (19-23) and walks with us throughout these pages for us to discover it. It might have been better to title the book following the map metaphor so prominent in this work! The biblical emphasis is set in the introductory pages (12, 18), especially when Chapple affirms that “what we believe and do in ministry is determined not by our own ideas and desires, or by the agenda of the world around us, but by the character and purpose of God. If we are to do his will, we must be governed by his word” (16).
The book is organised according to Chapple’s ministry map. He divides the book into four sections or parts: 1) The Basis; The Setting; 3) The Source; and 4) The Focus of Christian Ministry. As noted earlier, one of the book’s strengths is starting its journey with Jesus as the servant-savior. Jumping from Jesus’ teaching on servanthood in Mark 10:45, Chapple explains why Jesus is the appropriate point of departure. Despite, or maybe because, he is the Son of Man, the ruler over all the world, Jesus “has put himself in the lowest place of all” (27).
For this reason, we are first and foremost rescued people bound to serve out of gratitude, not from our initiative but as a response of love drawn from us (29). As such, we are called to follow Jesus’ path of service, a path of obedience, humble service, sacrifice, and suffering (32-33). In sum, “the path that Jesus took for us meant the cross—and that is our calling too” (33).
Let me highlight just a few more things. One will be encouraged to see that our se