Hamrick argued that we need to approach Scripture with a presupposition that its primary purpose is to reveal to us the glory of God Himself, with the result that we might know Him. He turned to the introductory words of both Genesis and Revelation as evidence that God's purpose is to reveal Himself. In past conversations, he and I have also talked about this theme in the introductions to Matthew, John, and Hebrews. (I also believe personally that the final verses of 2 Chronicles, which fall at the end of the Hebrew OT canon, are distinctly Messianic.) Hamrick also discussed John 5:39, in which Christ pointed out how Jewish legalism obscured God's purposes in Scripture.
So what are the characteristics of a God-focused (youth) ministry? Hamrick offers four suggestions. A ministry is God-focused when:
These characteristics will begin to be manifested in our ministries when our preaching falls in line with the full force of Romans 12:1-2. Preaching must not be merely decisional ("present") or conformational ("do not be conformed to the world"). Preaching must be transformational ("by the renewing of your mind") It must be exaltational, not just expositional. (We cannot preach a text and miss what it reveals about God. If the text doesn't say something about God, our text is too narrow.) Preaching must also be doxological, not just pedagogical.
- Its leaders recognize that the purpose of the Bible is primarily to reveal the glory of the Godhead and is only secondarily to teach men how to live.
- Its leaders are preoccupied with revealing Him in every Scripture passage (John 5:39; Col. 3:1-10)
- Its youth leave youth meetings in awe of God, not of Esther, David, Moses, or the speaker.
- Its youth speak more of spiritual things than of material things.
Update: I can't comment because I'm at the Wilds and can't access any Blogspot sites, although I can access Blogger.com to post and edit. Apparently, the Wilds' filter has classified Paleoevangelical as an "entertainment site." Ouch.
Response to Dave: First, I don't think it's insignificant that Paul says first that Scripture is profitable for doctrine. Without right doctrine, our reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness will be flawed. Second, is the maturity and equipping tied to the reason for the inspiration or to the four things for which Scripture is profitable? Also, is the maturity and the equipping the purpose or the result? Both? I'm genuinely asking. I'll also come back to that on my last point. Third, other texts specifically tie the teaching of Scripture to knowing God. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 are good examples of passages Hamrick teaches frequently in which knowing or remembering or fearing God are inextricably linked to His works, wonders, and words (commmandments, laws, etc. Sorry, couldn't resist the alliteration). I can't begin to catalog how many times Scripture says that God did or said something so that someone "might know that I am the Lord" (or other similar phrases). John was written so that we might believe. Fourth, I don't think that maturity and equipping for good works is equivalent to "how to live."
Finally, and this a key point, Hamrick's use of "primarily" should not be construed to mean that God-focused ministry does not teach people how to live. It does mean that we should not jump ahead to the results/behavior stage without establishing the essential theocentric foundation. His workshop tomorrow will flesh this out some more by explaining how godliness or maturity is the "ultimate purpose," but we too often bypass in our preaching the necessary steps toward this purpose and try to find shortcuts to conformity.