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Power in Weakness: Paul’s Transformed Vision for Ministry

, 2021
ISBN: 9780802871251
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Envisioning cruciform community built on resurrection hope.

After Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he turned from coercion and violence to a ministry centered on the hope of Christ’s resurrection. In earthly terms, Paul had traded power for weakness. But—as he explained in his subsequent letters—this “weakness” was actually the key to flourishing community that is able to experience God’s transformation, restoration, and healing. What would it mean for pastors today to take seriously Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11:1 to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” and lead their congregations in this way?

Instead of drawing leadership principles and practices from the worlds of business, education, and politics—which tend to orient churches around institutional power and image maintenance—Timothy Gombis follows Paul in resisting the influence of the “present evil age” by making cruciformity the operating principle of the church. Gombis guides the reader through practices and patterns that can lead a congregation past a focus on individual salvation, toward becoming instead a site of resurrection power on earth.

Resource Experts
  • Follows Paul in resisting the influence of the “present evil age”
  • Explores practices and patterns that can lead a congregation past a focus on individual salvation
  • Focuses on cruciformity as the operating principle of the church
  • Introduction
  • Paul’s Unconverted Ministry
  • Conversion of Paul’s Resurrection Imagination
  • Conversion of Paul’s Ministry Imagination
  • Pastoral Ministry in Cosmic Perspective
  • Cruciform Ministry and Image Maintenance
  • Cruciformity and Credential Accumulation
  • Cruciformity, Passivity, and Taking the Initiative
  • Cruciform Ministry Postures
  • Epilogue

Top Highlights

“Fourth, pastors may feel that they cannot be vulnerable about their own shortcomings, frailties or weaknesses.” (Page 29)

“Where there are factions or where groups assert their rights over others, Paul discerns behaviors that stir up and activate destructive cosmic dynamics within the community. Such postures and patterns of community life are not just ‘unfortunate.’ They insinuate satanic dynamics into a community; they assert the rule of the fallen powers that work for the destruction of the community. Alternatively, when a community is characterized by self-giving love and service, Paul sees the Spirit at work to bear gospel fruit and frustrate the powers of darkness. And he exhorts all his communities to act in such ways that will stir up and activate the presence of the Holy Spirit to enable the powers of renewal, restoration, and redemption to overtake and redeem communities.” (Page 8)

“Keep in mind that in all of this, zeal for God and God’s glory drove Paul. He longed to see God’s word enacted by God’s people. In his mind his motivations were pure! He wanted Israel to enjoy the fullness of resurrection life—the life of God on earth that would bring about renewal, restoration, and the completion of redemption. But Paul was seeking this through power. He was coercive toward others and had adopted postures of domination and threat. He had become verbally abusive and violent.” (Page 20)

“Ministry oriented by the cross provides space and clears room for others to jump in and participate. This approach trusts others and empowers them, since it is an approach taken by one always dying to self. Those oriented toward control and manipulation of others, however, will not see such an approach as promising. It will appear too risky. The outcomes cannot be predicted or controlled! And that is precisely the point. When our lives take the shape of the cross, we are completely given to God and to others and we do not control where we are going and how it will turn out. But we open up space for God to work in power, and the result of that dynamic is more promising and hopeful than church life that feels oppressive, stultifying, and suffocating.” (Page 62)

Could pastors need a conversion? Could the professionalization of ‘ministry’ actually set ourselves up against God? Tim Gombis helps us see Paul as a pastor engaged in self-oriented ministry before he met Jesus, willing to use coercive power in order to move God to act on Israel’s behalf. Tim calls pastors to the same shattering renovation that Paul himself underwent and offers vulnerable examples from his own pastoral journey. This book is about Paul, about Tim, and about all of us engaged in the perilous vocation of shepherding God’s flock. Kyrie eleison.

—Julie Canlis, author of Calvin’s Ladder

The apostle Paul is back in vogue, supplanting all-too-common criticisms of him with evergreen insights into how to confront pastoral abscesses, intellectual excesses, and megachurch successes. In this wise and timely book Tim Gombis opens up the theological vision of the apostle when it comes to powermongering leaders in churches and society in a way that makes me even more fond of the apostle himself. The gospel Paul preached carried time bombs that continue to explode pastoral chicanery and ecclesiastical empires.

—Scot McKnight, Northern Seminary

Dr. Gombis’s work is equal parts insightful, challenging, and convicting. This work shows that the path to genuine (and paradoxical) resurrection ministry is through vulnerability and weakness, and not coercion, manipulation, or force. He helps reshape both the motives and methods of pastoral work through the lens of Paul’s tragedies and triumphs. For any ministry leader who wrestles with the common temptation of comparison, competition, or control, this book is for you. It certainly was for me. I recommend this book to all Christians, and especially to those whose vocations include equipping the body of Christ for faithful service to the world.

—AJ Sherrill, Lead Pastor, Mars Hill Bible Church

  • Title: Power in Weakness: Paul’s Transformed Vision for Ministry
  • Author: Timothy G. Gombis
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Print Publication Date: 2021
  • Logos Release Date: 2020
  • Pages: 168
  • Era: era:contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Reader Edition
  • Subjects: Pastoral theology › Biblical teaching; Church work › Biblical teaching; Paul, the Apostle, Saint
  • ISBNs: 9780802871251, 0802871259
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:31:51Z

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Timothy G. Gombis is Associate Professor of New Testament at Cedarville University, Ohio, USA.


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    Print list price: $25.00
    Save $10.01 (40%)