Word, Work and Wonder as Holistic Ministry, Professor Doug Petersen

Following JesusProfessor Doug Petersen teaches in our Graduate and Professional Studies programs at Vanguard University and was asked to write and essay for Following Jesus:  Journeys in Radical Discipleship – Essays in Honor of Ronald J Sider By Paul alexander & Al Tizon (eds).  Click Here to order today

Professor Petersen writes in his essay “Jesus’ teachings to the disciples in the Gospel of Mark provide the marching orders for holistic ministry, i.e., for discipling people to faith in Jesus Christ and demonstrating that faith through our actions and service among the needy.  The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that the transformational experience of salvation, the ethical actions of social concern, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, as seen primarily in the Gospel of Mark, are inextricably linked together in any expression of holistic ministry.

Focusing on Mark 8:22-10:52, the core of Jesus’ teaching on discipleship, I contrast the social and ethical norms of power, authority, control, knowledge, status and wealth, which were accepted in first century culture, with the polar opposite ethical standards – the reversal of the order of things – that Jesus required of his followers under the rules of the kingdom of God.  Greatness in leadership, as God measures, is directly related to our actions on behalf of the marginalized and disenfranchised:  the poor, sick, disabled, unclean, outcasts, outsiders, the insignificant, and especially, or perhaps specifically, the children.”

For those of you who know Professor Peterson personally, you know he lives by his teachings and has a plaque hanging in his office as a constant reminder that reads:

“One hundred years from now,
It won’t matter what car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much I had in my bank account,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
But, the world may be a little better,
Because I was important in the life of a child.”


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