Book Recommendation – Ministry in the Image of God

As I may have said in the past, I don’t like to read. I’m a slow reader and easily distracted. So I try to read stuff that is good, stuff I can use. How do I find it? By asking others who are readers. In this case the recommendation comes from Sarah Yardley who runs the show over at Calvary Distribution. She did not disappoint. The book is called, Ministry in the Image of God – The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service by Stephen Seamands. Had I known the denominational background of the author in advance I might not have even bothered. Sometimes our own prejudices, justified or not, get in the way of God trying to say something because He sure has something to say through this book. I imagine the Lord had the same problem with Peter. I guess I’m in good company!

Chapter One lays the foundation for the rest of the book and spells out seven characteristics of trinitarian life, each of which are given their own chapter. They are;

  1. Relational Personhood: The Nature of Trinitarian Ministry
  2. Joyful Intimacy: The Foundation of Trinitarian Ministry
  3. Glad Surrender: The Heart of Trinitarian Ministry
  4. Complex Simplicity: The Mystery of Trinitarian Ministry
  5. Gracious Self-Acceptance: The Particularity of Trinitarian Ministry
  6. Mutual Indwelling: The Reciprocity of Trinitarian Ministry
  7. Passionate Mission: The Impulse of Trinitarian Ministry

Here is the big picture point of the book, in my opinion. First, the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit model for us what ministry should look like. Second, our relationship with the triune God must exist apart from any ministry. Third, as we come to understand how the trinity works, how He is the model for our relationship with God, how He is the model for the church, we understand and experience how ministry is supposed to be intimate, natural, and how we are along for the ride in what God is doing. Otherwise ministry become a machine to feed and not the outgrowth of the calling of God.

Each of the chapters challenged me. Each one made me grapple with some kind of preconception on some level. At the very least it made me take something off the shelf of the theoretical and challenged me to make it practical. I knew it, I just wasn’t doing it. I found myself putting quotes on twitter because they were so good. And not just quotes from the author, but the sources he sites. The price of the book is worth his research alone.

Are you feeling dry? Is your ministry feeling dry? Give this book a shot. See the trinity in a whole new light. Maybe not a new one, but a more complete one. It’s going on my essential reading list for ministry leaders.

  1. Ever since The Shack, there’s been a flood of Trinitarian books. Coincidence? Maybe. The Trinity seems to be (or seems to have been) one of those “forgotten” facets of Xian theology. My Master’s Thesis (which was started in 2002 and remains unfinished) is on “The Trinity As A Model For Teamwork In Ministry”. I’m not sure if I’ve been scooped, or just given more resources. 🙂

    Sounds like a great book. I’ll probably buy it.

  2. Yeah. The guy uses the phrase “trinitarian renaissance” a few times in the book in making the same observation. I’ve also read someone else observing that the stuff in the book conveys much of the theological point of The Shack without the fictional elements people object to.

  3. great book… I’m surpried I didn’t see it on the bad list LHT put Pitt about books at the SPC

  4. Corby, great recommendation. I read some great and short articles from CT where J.I. Packer was sharing the same things in a condensed interview format.

    Ron, I am on the same page when it comes to applying the Trinitarian model to teamwork in ministry.

    We hear so many arguments on church leadership structures and philosophies rather without any underlying theological substance.

    Through Jesus we have now been immersed in relationship with the Godhead.

    Leadership models need to reflect that.

    Would love to hear more on what you have said and what you plan to say.

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