MJS Archive Contents

The Meredith J. Sprunger Archive

Principles of Ministry

6/l/82

Anyone who has experienced a dynamic personal relationship with God and has dedicated himself to the demands of this relationship must do something about it. Genuine religion always motivates action and changes lives. Jesus emphasizes that service is the true indicator of our sonship with the Universal Father. Religionists have often side-stepped the demanding discipline of spiritual ministry by engaging in religious substitutes such as theologizing, cult cultivation, organizational administration, and mystical contemplation. Cults and sectarian groups tend to be centripetal; inward; their focus and primary relationships are with insiders. A more mature religion or religionist is open and outgoing and seeks to bring ministry to all mankind.

Service to our fellowman can take many forms, and each of us must discover which function or channel we find creative. We can serve God in every vocation of society and through all of the arts and sciences. Jesus directs us to seek the Father's guidance and direction for our lives. All of us are not called to the same ministry. Courageously keep step with the music you hear; and so will the Fathers symphony of service benefit all people.

There are three basic forms of service in which each of us is challenged to participate. First, we should strive to live the inspiring truths given to us. This is elemental. Second, we ought to engage in various types of material service. We should aid the needy, work for social, economic, and legal justice, and foster the actualization of human well-being. Finally, and most importantly, we are called to participate in a spiritual ministry to the minds and souls of our fellows. This sharing and proclamation of the good news has, historically, effected the greatest transformation of human life of all of the forms of service. And today there is a great need for the restructuring of the spiritual foundations of society along with a growing hunger in the world for a larger understanding of the universe and God.

New Potentials of Ministry

The latest and greatest truth the Master has committed into our hands is the fifth epochal revelation. This momentous event has opened vast new potentials of ministry. Each of us should ask ourselves, how are we actualizing these dynamic possibilities? What fruits of the spirit show that we are doing something creative with this enlarged vision of truth in our lives and in our service? Where have we sown this new seed of truth? Are we cultivating soil and planting seed with care; or are we merely letting nature take its course and busying ourselves with other things while the winds of time broadcast the seed at random?

Although there have been many evolutionary periods of spiritual revival spearheaded by great religious leaders, the most significant eras of spiritual awakening on our world have been initiated by the advent of epochal revelation. We have many charismatic religious leaders today who recognize the need for the spiritual renewal of our society, and who are exerting their best efforts to bring about such a spiritual transformation of our culture. The spiritual rejuvenation of our planet, however, requires something more than religious genius and human heroics.

The depth of our world dilemma and the decadence of our spiritual resources is seen in the relative impotence of the religious leaders and the religious institutions of our day. Because of this depletion of our evolutionary spiritual reserves, we have been given the fifth epochal revelation. It has come in the fullness of time; for only an enlarged and integrated vision of Reality along with the faith-power of new revelation can bring about a spiritual renaissance on our world. The crisis of our age challenges every serious student of The Urantia Book to dedicate himself or herself to some form of active and systematic outreach ministry.

Fields of Ministry

The most significant fields for spiritual ministry which will have a lasting effect on our culture and civilization are the religious institutions of our society. No spiritual influence has ever made an enduring contribution to our world unless it has become institutionalized. Although religious organizations increase the potential for evil and doctrinal misdirection, no spiritual dynamic has been able to make its way as a viable aspect of history without utilizing institutional channels. This means that the teachings of The Urantia Book must either leaven the religious traditions of the world or new religious institutions will have to be created to serve this purpose.

In view of these experiential realities, it becomes clear that one of the most important avenues of service in which students of The Urantia Book can function is within the religious institutions of society. Spiritual leavening always comes from within. This is, obviously, a slow and difficult process; but there is no other way to spiritual growth. Those who are too "turned-off," disenchanted, or frustrated to serve actively in the religious institutions of society largely eliminate themselves from one of the most important evolutionary instrumentalities in bringing about a spiritual renaissance on our world.

This does not mean that one must be a member of a religious institution to contribute to spiritual progress. Individuals and noninstitutional religious groups can make great contributions to religious growth. These "freelance" contributions, however, must eventually be incorporated in religious institutions if they are to survive. If the fifth epochal revelation is to make its way into our culture it must first influence the lives of individuals; but in order for these teachings to survive and become a social force in civilization, these individuals must either leaven the traditional religions of our world or create new entities which become the channels through which these truths enlighten mankind.

Hopefully, the Urantia movement will move in both of these directions. Although Urantia Brotherhood is a new religious organization, it seeks to serve a unique role as a human institution. It does not aspire to initiate a new religion or become a religious body which furnishes pastoral, sacerdotal, or worship services as do churches and synagogues. The Brotherhood functions primarily as an educational-social institution with a religious purpose. As such, it may be able to contribute an important ecumenical ministry to all of the religions of the world. The Brotherhood's objective is the spiritual transformation of mankind through the leavening influence of the fifth epochal revelation (and God's continuing, unified spirit ministry) in all of the institutions of our world.

In time there will be new religious groups arising that recognize The Urantia Book as the center of their faith and practice which will furnish all of the pastoral, social, educational, and sacerdotal services of contemporary churches and synagogues. In the overall picture, however, these new groups will most likely serve a significant but minor role in the evolution of religion on our planet. The major events of future religious development, probably, will take place with-in the religious traditions which have served the spiritual needs of humanity for centuries. It is, therefore, vitally important that ever increasing numbers of Urantia Book students assume active leadership roles in the religious institutions of the world. If we wisely prepare the ground, eventually thousands of study groups will spring up within these historic communions.

Seven Principles of Ministry

Whatever form of outreach ministry you should choose to engage in, the quality and effectiveness of that service depends, largely, on how it is done. Divine revelation and human experience have taught us the importance of the following seven principles of ministry"

Living Faith Acts

We are living in one of the major transitional periods of human history. Our society desperately needs an enlarged spiritual vision which will give guidance and stability to the new age which is struggling to be born. The Urantia Book has been given to us providing the spiritual fulcrum to lift our world into a new era of human achievement. Our Sovereign Master speaks to us as to Peter,, "If you love me, feed my sheep."