EP 143 – PLATFORM AND TABLE MINISTRY
Hey there Bootcampers, thanks for joining us! Today we begin unpacking the concept of ministry from the platform and the table. Lean in, listen up and share your insights and feedback.
- Platform Ministry: anything that is broadcast from the pulpit, stage, website, social media
- Table Ministry: relational interaction, conversation that occurs in an informal setting.
Platform ministry can catalyze life change and transformation. Table ministry cultivates and sustains transformation.
When we depend on platform vs. table we can often isolate, stay busy with sermon preparation and be away from people.
In our present church culture, we believe, that we’ve adopted more of a Platform than Table ministry approach.
Truth-we gravitate toward one of these more than the other.
Do you know which one is your default?
We’d love to hear from you, drop us a line, leave a voice mail and share your thoughts in the comments.
Do you need help with your Platform (Web Presence) ? Our great sponsors, One Eighty Digital can get you up and going quickly. Check them out today, let them know you are a Bootcamp listener.
JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are back at the bootcamp. I hope you’re ready for the next episode here with the esteemed dad of Daisy, the pup.
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: And so you guys have been adjusting into the new life of, of puppet them again.
Bob Bickford: Thank the Lord. No. So Daisy is sweet as can be, but she bites like an alligator man. She is like, you got those puppy teeth. And if you follow me on social media, you’ll see some pictures of Daisy puppy. She’s just the cutest little thing. And, there’s a lot of fun. So we’re, we’re going to puppy class tomorrow, Jimbo.
And so I could, update you guys on all the puppy class, but here’s what, here’s something that’s really interest. everybody wants to meet a puppy, right? So we’re walking her and everybody comes up and talks to us and everybody wants to share their dog’s story and all that sort of thing. So, man, bootcampers, if you’re having trouble meeting your community and engaging your community, here’s just go down to your local shelter, adopt a puppy and [00:01:00] start walking it, and then you’ll have like hundreds of conversations everywhere you go.
Everywhere you go.
JimBo Stewart: I’ve actually heard a few different passengers. Tell me that that’s been like a strategy for them with getting to know their neighbors
Bob Bickford: Yeah,
JimBo Stewart: get a dog and start walking it. And, I just think I’ll probably figure out other ways to get to know my neighbors.
Bob Bickford: well, you guys got go on. It’s just put a leash on, in a Guana down there and just walk is walking around.
JimBo Stewart: Maggie has a hamster. We could walk Eliza the hamster around in.
Bob Bickford: So, yeah. Daisy pups fun. I think I’m losing weight. I’m getting more limber because I’m up and down all the time. I’m, you know, my reflexes are faster. Cause I’m trying to, when we’re playing, I’m trying to keep, you know, toys in her mouth rather than my hands and fingers. So, overall it’s been good for me.
I think a Daisy Daisy’s taken us to bootcamp where like working out all the time with Daisy.
JimBo Stewart: Well, we’re recording this the week. Uh, we’re recording this for the week that, when SBC. happens. And so, you’ll get a little bit of a time away. We’ll be consoling you,[00:02:00] as you, I mean, are, you’re not, I’m assuming you’re not bringing Daisy.
the pup to SBC week with you.
Bob Bickford: No, there’s no way it might be a good distraction to everybody,
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. it might be needed
like in the middle of a bad business meeting moment. Just bring out the puppy and just go puppy.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, everybody did have the collective audit. Hey, speaking of stuff, stop by the booth and see a there’s some of the replant team’s going to be there. And we would love to see you at the Nam booth and the exhibit center. and so we, uh, would love to hear from you we’re we’re going to probably be a little more quiet on social media.
You won’t hear from us cause we’ll be busy doing what we’re doing, but we are there. And, um, and we would love to see.
JimBo Stewart: Excellent. I, I’m excited to see.
even if you’re not at SBC, man, let us know how things are going in your world and where a puppy could make your life better.
Bob Bickford: Yes.
JimBo Stewart: Hey, we ordered dive in today to, kind of a concept that I’ve been noodling around a little bit. I’ve been thinking a lot about, Really the idea of [00:03:00] leadership and what kind of leadership is needed in churches today.
And I’ve been thinking about it, uh, really kind of in two continuums. And so these are not 100% fleshed out ideas, but as a verbal processor, it helps me. To workshop this out with you today, Bob and the listeners. And so I’d love the feedback from you, and I’d love feedback from listeners as we go in.
And I’m just going to introduce an idea that I can guarantee you. We’re going to dive into more as we go. from my observation. Leadership culture of most churches are too dependent on what I would call platform ministry. so platform ministry is, is anything that’s broadcast. And here’s what I mean by that.
So, and I’m not against platform ministry. I just think we’re too dependent on it. Like, so pulpit minister. Sunday morning worship service when, it is stage communicating out platform, communicating out to congregation, and there’s not necessarily like interaction of any kind that’s platform, [00:04:00] ministry, our website, our social media, things like that, our, our platform ministry.
But in reality, the church in the new Testament was largely built around tables far more than platforms. I would say. I mean, a lot of what we do. Is really done in relationship. Right. And so I think, I think about the people who have made the greatest impact in my daily walk with Jesus and it’s people who have done life with.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, think about the stories of Jesus, right? The discipling moments would use, what was he doing? He was always like at somebody’s house at Eaton. Right. And. He must’ve been like a, pre-runner of the Southern Baptist culture, you know, something, something like that. So, I mean, there’s always this idea of conversations and think about the last couple of meaningful conversations that you’ve had with somebody who’s probably been over coffee or over a meal around a table, I would think wouldn’t you think.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. [00:05:00] And so I, that’s where I came up with the idea of this like table a. And so here’s what I’d say is when I say table, I don’t necessarily literally even mean a table is involved. a table when I say it can mean, I think it does a lot of times mean like around a table at a coffee shop or dinner or lunch, or table quote unquote can mean riding in the caviar.
and, and talking as we go down the road or sitting in your living room and talking together, but it’s these kind of vulnerable bonding, attachment, deep love and acceptance correction done in the, in the context of relationship. and, and unity built in those moments and, and really in discipleship, but not just discipleship deep relationship and what I would say.
Lasting life transformation can oftentimes be catalyzed by platform ministry, a good sermon, a worship service, and it’s almost like those are the seeds, right? That, that [00:06:00] catalyze life transformation, but, really life transformation that’s lasting is cultivated and sustained in the soil of the table. and being in relationship with.
Bob Bickford: I love what you said there. You said, from the platform, did you say it’s ignited or inspired?
How do I, okay, so catalyzed, but it’s cultivated. And
JimBo Stewart: sustained?
Bob Bickford: Yeah.
JimBo Stewart: in the soil of the table.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. So typically, in ministry we’ve just focused on the catalyzing, right? And you get a good catalyzer, you get a good communicator and you got a lot of categorization going on.
It’s just like everywhere, everywhere. but most people walk away from a Sunday message, even if they’ve taken notes on the bulletin or their tablet or their phone or their app, or what. it, unless they review that or reviewed and community, it’s going to stay a good idea and some good notes.
Right. so I think that distinction that you’ve [00:07:00] made is really significant in that regard.
JimBo Stewart: my wife has a pastor’s kid and she emphasized some of this to me, even as I was going into ministry, she said watching her dad, she recognized that, the way she worded it was, he did not earn the right to be people’s pastor in the pulpit. But at the hospital bedside and in the living room and at the dinner table and at the lunch table.
and really, so when we are so dependent on the platform, rather than the table, we can isolate from the people and it becomes, it becomes. All hours in the study, getting ready to preach a sermon, getting ready to lead vision, just meeting with the leadership team. And we don’t do life with people.
And Paul tells Timothy in first, Timothy four 16, keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this for, by so doing, you will save both yourself and your hearers. And one of the verses, [00:08:00] we bring up a lot of times as Psalm 78, 72, he shepherded them with integrity of heart and guided them with skillful hands, life and doctrine, heart and hands it’s.
really ministry requires this idea of. a platform ministry, good preaching, solid preaching. I’m a big believer in the power of, faithfully preaching. the truth of God’s word. I love expository preaching. I love verse by verse going consecutively through a book of the Bible. I believe that’s has great power to do that.
and we’ve talked about that before. And so this is not to discount platform ministry, but I think. We have become so dependent on platform ministry that, we assume that platform ministry is how we change the culture of the church. It’s how we change people’s lives. And I think we’ve got to understand that, like we said, platform can be a catalyst, but people’s lives.
Life transformation in people’s [00:09:00] lives is not sustained. By platform, ministry listening, you know, you’ve heard, you’ve seen it posted before, like Judas had the best preacher, right? Judas had Judas had the best communicator. and none of us are good enough platform communicators to see lasting life transformation in people.
Bob Bickford: Dear. Right. and I think we leave seminary with platform skills, right? Preaching classes. We may have some discipleship classes sprinkled in here and there for, you know, we’ve got a secondary emphasis in our, degree program, but it just, as you’re talking there, it just made me think I had a way to make, preaching and the discipline of preparing, I had a plan to execute, but I didn’t have a plan for the other.
Right. And so a lot of the resources that I jumped into early on were all about how do I do, how do I figure out the discipleship thing, how to figure [00:10:00] out the relational thing. and so I think maybe it would be good for. pastors to come out with a relational discipleship plan, as well as a PR a preaching and sermon preparation plan in, and to see that as a co-equal, resource for, effort and focus and intentionality in development and all those sorts of.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think we have to make sure that we’re making time to think through those things. And I just want to give a quick introduction and we’ll do some more episodes following this to go further into detail. They’re kind of two extreme. And which I think we go on an overemphasis of platform ministry.
I think one extreme, I would call like the influencer or the entrepreneur or hyper visionary type. I’ve not finalized my language on this as I’m thinking through it, but. somewhere in this like entrepreneurial, hyper visionary, influencer thinking where we’re going to maximize our impact in everything we do.
How do we, how do we impact the most amount of people, as possible, every moment of everything that we do. [00:11:00] How are we being inspirational? How are we? We’re very in this extreme, we’re very driven. man excellence is the bar by which everything must meet. we may not say that we’re, as a matter of fact, we would probably say we’re not competitive.
Like we would say the language correctly, that we’re all on the same team. historically there’s a church in our city that used to have billboard. Going out 45 minutes away from it that said a church alive is worth the drive. and there’s, there’s always this idea, right? And they did it, they set it on the billboard of, Hey, we’re going to be better than those churches.
That aren’t as excellent as us. I’m at that extreme, the culture is shaped almost entirely from the platform, in, in the Sunday morning worship service, as well as the social media, the website, all those sorts of platform things.
The goal is to inspire existing congregants and attract new congregants for the high bar of ex. they’re focused on being more excellent and effective than the other extreme. They’re really creative and [00:12:00] innovative and their approaches to building their platform. And in these, and these churches that are at this led by this extreme are usually a very top-down and making decisions and almost kind of like a CEO, type model.
So, so that’s the one extreme influencer maximizer, hyper visionary entrepreneur.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. And I worked on staff that it turns like that. And then every, every week our meeting our program meeting to figure out what new great thing we were going to do was exhausting. Right? So it was like, well, how can we top last week? And so the crowd live was a great fun church to come to. And everybody was like, you guys are so creative.
And so tell. But they always talking about what we were doing and not Jesus who we were supposed to be doing it for. And after a couple of years of that, I was like, ah, I’m kind of tired of this. I was just like, I gotta get out of here. This is not good. Right. So I love how that distinguished, [00:13:00] And listed some of the challenges of being an environment like that, right.
You just, you’re always trying to be creative. You’re driven, it’s competitive. You’re excellent. You know, all of those kinds of things. And again, we’re not, we don’t want to excuse a lack of good preparation and excellence. And we’re not saying that that’s the mark of true spirituality. Cause that’s not right.
But if this is like over the top that you’ve just tried to, to, uh, you know, catalyze a response from the. And I think that’s where our church was that I was a part of for awhile. in another state we were catalyzing responsible credit. And so the judgment on Sunday was, were people wild and were they amazed?
Not what truth was taught. And did we honor and glorify Jesus?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
So you, you, you said let’s not, you know, diminish. Excellent. So in preparation, and so sometimes the other extreme. So if kind of influencer maximizer, entrepreneur or CEO is one extreme, you swing the pendulum the other way. And the other extreme [00:14:00] is kind of hospice, chaplain. faithful, consistent, uh, rather than trying to maximize impact, the chaplain is trying to minimize conflict.
Let’s let’s not shake the apple cart, rather than trying to be inspirational. Usually the chaplain is more educational, so their sermons are a little more, almost like a seminary lecture. and I’m in, and they’re usually really theologically robust, I mean just deep. Dive sometimes into things.
They’re very dedicated. Those, they may stay for a really long time. and consistency becomes important. Their response to the spirit of competition is usually isolation. they don’t want to join in and cooperate with other churches because they’re afraid of the question. How many are you running? and so they kind of isolate, and these churches, the culture is often shaped.
Somewhat from the platform, but also from silos of, power brokers. And the goal here is to educate and appease [00:15:00] congregants with consistency and tradition, minimize the conflict. They look at the influencer, hyper visionary culture, churches, and they think we’re going to be more facing. Then they are, we’re not going to make it ourselves as much a big a deal as they do.
And they’ll tell you that they’re, they’re really, really friendly churches, but they’re really only friendly within silos within cliques. but they’re kind of cold towards outsiders decisions are made, not from the top down like the CEO model, but. Bye power brokers within the congregation and the pastor serves here.
So like a chaplain type role. And oftentimes he’s really by the committees and silo’s been stripped of any real authority and what they want him to do is marry and bury and preach. That’s like they stopped by the house and say, Hey, and so they, they have some that usually have more of a semblance, uh, symbol or. Some something of table ministry and that they expect the pastor to [00:16:00] visit the house, but it’s usually not in depth. And it’s usually not, we’re not seeing in depth table ministry happen, but it’s, it’s just chaplain type ministry.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, it’s superficial, right? It’s weather, sports, kids like that. It’s not spiritual formation. Right. So, if you think about the work of Richard Baxter, the pastor who made all of this, the spiritual home visits, right. And was really caring for the souls of his. He was asking questions that were, you would get to the, the heart condition of the soul, the soul of the people.
And if you look at even the early Methodism and John Wesley and their life groups, and they were asking you one another questions that were about faithfulness to, pursuing Jesus and dealing with sin and all of those sorts of things. And so I think the table ministry has to go there, right? It has to have those hard conversations, in the spirit of grace.
But I think. It invites that because of relationship maybe. Right. [00:17:00] And, so I’ve seen, I’ve seen platform, ministry platform, an approach to table ministry by giving lists of hard questions and trying to catalyze conversations around those without really understanding critical care and concern for, for people.
Right. And so. Your, C you see, church’s parrot, you see members of the churches parrot back the right answers, but they really don’t engage one another’s hearts. They’re only in the head. And so, the, table ministry, the relational ministry has to be actually relational.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah.
Bob Bickford: actually has to be, you have to have those, those caring conversations.
So one of the challenges, Jimbo, I think, is developing a good set of questions. That start at a particular place, but lead towards depth and invite vulnerability, don’t force it. Right. And
I think those things are important.
JimBo Stewart: I like that. Invite vulnerability. Don’t force it. So if one extreme is the influencer[00:18:00] entrepreneur hyper visionary, and the other extreme is the hospice chaplain. And the metal, what I’m proposing is what we have called the visionary shepherd. and a visionary shepherd is called by God to humbly shepherd the souls of his people.
He is patient wise, strategic and relational. He has the ability to discern God’s vision for a congregation and the capacity to winsomely communicate those ideas and lead the team. Toward the fulfillment of God’s vision. He has the ability to walk a fine line between being a man on mission and a loving shepherd to those whom God has entrusted him.
and so this is, this is that middle ground of not swinging a pendulum too far to one direction or the other. And what I would say is in a visionary shift, Culture, the culture is shaped by the word of God practiced in biblical community. and so it’s not superficial table ministry. It’s the word of God being practiced in biblical community.
The goal [00:19:00] here is not to compete, but to grow the church and the biblical markers of success, unity, love and maturity and leadership is both from the platform and the table. With an equal emphasis in aligned with God’s purposes. And that’s the key. It’s not to the degradation of platform ministry, but understanding that these things both are significantly important.
and that the church in the new Testament was largely built around the table.
And it’s focused on the messy, inefficient incarnational ministry of discipleship and that part that’s table ministry. That’s part of it as well, because in the, in the, in the visionary CEO influencer maximizer model of the extreme, we’re a catalyst. And I think that the reason we don’t do the message.
In efficient incarnational ministry of table discipleship is because it is inefficient because it takes a lot of time. And it’s with one [00:20:00] or two or three people rather than, okay. Well, I could just put all my energy into how many I can reach on my Sunday morning platform ministry or on my social media ministry.
And I think we, we justified that extreme by, well, I can reach more people. If I do the platform,
whereas a table is just inherently going to be less efficient and less people. But at the chaplain extreme, I think we justify ourselves by saying, You know, well, I’m not going after numbers. I’m not trying to be a big deal, but we’re also, usually at that point, maybe scared of risk.
and the messiness of like, at that point, I think we’re trying to avoid the messiness of table ministry. And so in these churches, decisions are made by plurality of leaders affirmed by the congregation and the pastor. Isn’t a CEO and he’s not a hospice chaplain. He’s an under shepherd under the Lordship of.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, bottom line ministry. At some point [00:21:00] leads us to having caring conversations that can be unconscious. And Jesus was always doing that with his disciples. Right. He loved them. He cared for them. He led them to, you know, all kinds of different opportunities where they could learn about how to apply the truth of God’s word to the situation they were finding in their lives.
But he said some hard things. And challenged them about their attitudes and their actions. And ultimately if we just go back to, one of my favorite replant verses Colossians 1 28 and 29 Henry proclaim a warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present them. In Christ for this, I toil struggling with all the energy that he works so powerfully within me.
Right? So there’s war there’s teeth, there’s gospel proclamation, there’s warning, there’s teaching. And most of the time, if you just took those three things, we probably do two of them, gospel proclamation, and teaching. We don’t do warning. Right. And so Paul combines them all [00:22:00] there. And I think all three are necessary for maturity.
Is that versatile?
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I think maturity is one of the things I think we’ve got to be asking ourselves. I I’m convinced that the three kind of biblical markers we see in Ephesians four, And really outside of that are our unity, love and maturity. we have to be evaluating ourselves. Those are things that are really difficult to, to quantify and to measure.
but I think we can, we can look and we can continually self-evaluate are. the results of our platform and table ministry leading to people in our church, being more unified in Christ, more loving in ways that they would not love outside of the gospel, transforming them and more maturity. Are they more like Jesus?
Are they bearing more the fruit of the spirit? And those have to be our measures of success. And we, we only get those. If we leave.[00:23:00] With an equal emphasis on platform and table ministry aligned with the purposes that God has given us as a visionary shepherd, not as the extreme of the hyper visionary CEO, influencer maximizer, and not as the status quo, hospice chaplain.
Let me just of. Mary Barry and preach the word and, and let the holy spirit do the rest. there, there is this kind of middle of the pendulum swing of the visionary shepherd, where we, we, we lead with vision from the platform and catalyze, affection for the Lord affection for the word of God and, uh, and spiritual maturity.
But we cultivate that. And why. And the soil of table ministry to produce the fruit of unity, love and maturity.
Bob Bickford: Absolutely. I love how you broken this down. I think it’s gonna be really helpful as it continues to develop and become part of the repertoire that you, are able to share. And as we visited more at the [00:24:00] bootcamp, I’m looking forward to that.
JimBo Stewart: All right, thanks. Bootcampers have a good one.