The word tradition brings to mind standard or usual things. Maybe traits & habits of some culture. This Gospel-note takes a look at Non-Traditional Ministries. We are all familiar with regular ministries - the church & it’s minister, priests, & missionaries, etc. But the non-traditional are not as obvious or recognized – even among religious people. The following list is by no means complete.
-- We met a NTM character in Eugene, Oregon over forty years ago that found his calling giving a biology laboratory class to home schooled H.S. kids. He is creationist & presents the option that God created the world & life rather than the evolutionary theories as fact. Steve is qualified to teach the class & has done it over 40 years for free.
-- We met another character who found his niche of NTM giving Bibles near and far. He works hard for his money then gives much of it away through Bible placement. John’s ministry is not affiliated with the Gideons – he is a kind of “lone ranger”.
-- Prison ministry - visiting jail birds with comforting words & prayer/befriending.
-- One church we attended years ago had a wealthy couple who would give financial help to needy folks on an incognito, “off the record” basis. But they got our attention by giving my wife & I an SUV at a time we really needed one. That was a REAL surprise and seriously “good news” if not the gospel, and we were not too proud to take it – we put nearly 80 thousand miles on it.
-- We have been on several cruise ships to find a Bible study/meeting on sea days (when ship is not in port). On this ship a couple have been leading the class & claim to have this NTM. They appear to be in their niche and are doing a good job.
-- I believe the military chaplaincy is a NTM. I fell into it after Viet Nam & it changed my life. Those chaplains were good men & I learned a lot about the ministry. See link 70 “The Chaplains”. The last one was a classic in that he went thru seminary with no desire to preach. He just wanted to be a Police Chaplain & did extra study on the subject of suicide. John is a very interesting character.
-- I have been writing “Gospel-notes” for forty years and only recently realized this is a Non-Traditional Ministry. Slow learner I guess.
-- An Australian on this ship told us about a Thailand based NTM he was affiliated with. It’s a rescue home for Thai orphans who have been exploited for pedophile sex. I don’t know how Gospel oriented the ministry is, but it appears to be 100% legitimate as a Non-Traditional Ministry.
-- I really shouldn’t throw in the case of the Catholic nun that cared for about 75 stray cats. But I will. She was authorized by the convent to do cat rescue - apparently because she was so liberal she could do little damage to human souls as long as she was occupied with spiritually worthless cats.
-- Then we have the food ministry. Usually the pastor “visits” local supermarkets & loads up on date expired groceries. Church side-rooms are stocked & needy folks can help themselves. (Church mice love food ministries . . .)
Most theologians believe the traditional Christian church started with the commission from the resurrected Jesus Christ we find in Matthew 28:19 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Shortly afterwards the early church & churches began to form, along with the traditional role of the minister/priest. But many people cannot or will not be reached by “traditional” means. Non-Traditional Ministries like those above help to “fill in the gaps”. And I have found that God is VERY capable & will have a witness when & where He wants one to be. He can get the message of Christ to those who need and want that message. (Elijah got a “message” even from wild ravens – maybe not gospel, but it was an early food ministry - LOL?) “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank of the brook.” 1 Kings 17:6
I suppose the whole concept of ministry is a mystery & farce to some folks. And indeed Scripture bears this out. The “street-wise” apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “the message of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 About 49 years ago I was typically “perishing” in my sin & Christ rejecting lifestyle. A non-traditional ministry was there for me. My hope is that others will find Christ by whatever means the gospel message is promoted. Choose Jesus. He is Alive. See also ”Why I Write” link 158.
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