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Many of us start off in ministry after an initial boost of intensive training, whether on the job or in college. During this time we make progress in our godliness and in practical gifting but the danger is that once we begin our ministry this rapid progress can start to stagnate.
In this book, Adrian Reynolds warns us against being satisfied with gradual growth and instead calls leaders to make a deliberate effort to continue to grow and develop. He uses Paul’s words to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4 to encourage us to seek growth in the areas of speech, conduct, love, faith, purity and our gifts.
This book is best read reflectively, taking the time to answer the questions at the end of each chapter to help you to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
Sitting in the coffee bar of a station hotel with an accountability partner, I was asked a question that startled me. ‘Where I was looking to make progress in my Christian life?’ Startling, not because I hadn’t heard it before, or even thought about it much before; but because the thought hadn’t consciously crossed my mind in the previous months. A little while later, it was then a joy to pick up Progress by Adrian Reynolds, an unpacking of 1 Timothy 4:11–16. The first couple of chapters establish the gospel necessity of ministers making progress in godliness and gifting; and then remind us that sanctification is a work of God, in which we have a part to play. Noticing that all the qualities Paul mentions to Timothy are relational, the following chapters then consider areas in which to make progress: speech, conduct, love, faith, purity, gifting. The chapters follow a helpful pattern of a wider of what holiness looks like in that area, 5 questions about the quality, a consideration of how to make progress, and a prayer. It would be easy to be overwhelmed by the number of areas in which I could look to make progress. Adrian’s helpful counsel is to pick one area of focus at a time. My first one is speech, and as I write, I’m keenly aware of a failing just today, and so the need to make progress in it. It’s a book to use widely. Staff teams and elderships would benefit significantly from reading it together. The price really helps with getting a bucket load. In time to come, it’s a book I hope and expect to be falling apart through regular use. David Dargue, Minister, Christ Church Gosforth
Adrian Reynolds offers an extended reflection on 1 Timothy 4:12–16. These verses make up the substance of the book. Adrian draws out how the expectation from Paul is an attitude of development (4:15), and the surprise is that there is a connection between a minister’s progress in these areas and the effectiveness of the ministry God has given (4:16). Five areas of godliness are looked at in turn: speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (4:12); followed by the area of ministry gifting (4:13–14). In each short chapter, Adrian gives some theological consideration to each particular area, some really helpful diagnostic questions to aid self–evaluation, and then an extended prayer for personal response.Reflective reading should mean you finally have the courage to tackle some things you’ve known about for a while; you have the wisdom to spot other things that perhaps had passed you by; and you have the fresh resolve to keep growing – both in heart and in the task at hand. Perfect for a new year or an end–of–term pit–stop. Progress would also be fitting for a ministry fraternal to commit to reading and then reflecting upon together, or perhaps a staff team too.
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