From Bold-ish to Boldness: Four Crucial Elements in Ministry

In the days of the judges, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 17:6). Sadly, these days are descending into those days at an alarming rate. Our world celebrates evil and godlessness more each day. Increased attacks on the Church are coming. In many places, they’re already here.

As much as I’d like to only minister in ways that couldn’t possibly get me targeted or canceled, the world desperately needs Christians to be bold. We need pure truth, not a watered-down, non-convicting, culture-pleasing message. We need the kind of hearts Paul displayed to the Corinthian church in a time marked by persecution and the spread of false teaching.

He said, “Since we have such a hope [the hope we have in Christ], we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).

Are you “very bold”?

I’m bold-ish. (More -ish than bold.)

We follow Paul’s example and minister with a bold heart by embracing four crucial elements:

  1. Bible
  2. Offense
  3. Love
  4. Defense

1. Bible: Be Biblically Grounded

We can’t escape it. We’ll answer for every careless word we speak (Matt. 12:36). Because God has given Christians His Word and His Spirit, we’ll stand before Him without excuse. How can we ensure we’re grounded in God’s Word?

  • Pray and then pray some more.

    Prayer helps us minister from God’s perspective, not our own. As we pray, God’s Spirit brings to our minds the Truths we need to remember from His Word. We think we know. He truly knows. He sees what we can’t—the needs of every soul.

“For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:11)

  • Know the Word and handle it rightly.

“If you don’t have a verse, you only have an opinion.” —Author unknown

Opinions don’t change hearts even if we wrap them in beautiful words. Only the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit can change a heart. Study in order to know God’s Word and how to handle it rightly (2 Tim. 2:15). We never want to be guilty of what I and other well-meaning Christians can fall into, which a t-shirt I saw summed up well. I call it the Philippians 3:14 Trap: I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.

  • Commit to daily Bible study and prayer.

    Prayer and Bible study take time. There are no shortcuts. (Trust me. I looked.) Fortunately, God is the author of time. He provides what we need as we obey Him. If we’re too busy to study and pray, it’s time to reevaluate our priorities. Prayer and Bible study are indispensable privileges we dare not neglect.

2. Offense: Be on the Offense Without Being Unnecessarily Offensive

In every battle, opposing sides fight from offensive and defensive positions. But not God. He’s never on defense. From eternity to eternity, He’s on offense. The Lord is our strong defender, but He never needs defending. He works everything according to His eternal will. Even persecution. Yet, we let opposition to Christianity drive us into a defensive mindset. Why? For me, it’s the fear of man.

  • Fear God, not man.

    The fear of man is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I hate confrontation. I want everyone to like me. I don’t want to hurt you, and I definitely don’t want you to hurt me. But the fear of man crushes boldness and is utterly unnecessary. Since we know God works all things—all things—together for the ultimate good of His children, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Heb. 13:6, Rom. 8:28)
  • Minister with conviction and confidence.

    As our fear (reverential awe) of God grows, so does our conviction that we, as believers, are the only ones with the right answer for all the problems in the world. The answer is Jesus. The burden of proof that He’s anything other than what He (and the whole Bible) declares rests on those opposed to His claims. It’s not on us. We’re not on defense. Christ’s enemies are.

    We’re called to honor Christ the Lord as holy and to always be prepared to make a defense for the hope that’s in us. Therefore, stand up straight and minister with confidence. Hold tightly to an offensive mindset and proclaim His Word. Don’t apologize for the Truth but affirm it with gentleness and respect (1 Pet. 3:15).
  • Ask and answer questions the world is asking.

    Sincere and respectful questions reflect a genuine desire for the other person’s good will, whereas snarky and rude questions reflect an arrogant and proud heart. We don’t want to dominate others. We want to be a tool in God’s hand to draw them to Himself. Study and read widely to understand the various oppositions to Christianity and address the questions they’re asking head on with humble confidence, not defensiveness.
  • Remember, Christ is the stumbling stone—we’re pebble-placers.

    The growing evil in the world rightly draws out righteous anger in Christians. But let’s resist unnecessarily offending unbelievers. The gospel is offensive enough.

    Christ only allows those who repent of their sin and trust in Him to enter His kingdom. God sends the rest to hell. This naturally offends those who refuse to bow to Christ as Lord. They stumble over Christ, the “stone of stumbling” and “rock of offense” (2 Pet. 2:8).If Christ doesn’t save them, their rejection of the gospel will crush them eternally.

    Let’s follow Christ’s example and refrain from lobbing boulders of contempt at those who hurl hatred at our Lord and the Church. Instead, lead them to rethink their unbiblical position. Let the Truth you share (not your attitude) make them uncomfortable—as uncomfortable as a pebble in their shoe.If they want relief, they’ll have to deal with the pebble—the Truth. Our goal is to make others curious, not unnecessarily furious.

    If we’re true to God’s Word and minister with a biblical mindset, we’ll offend those who disagree with the Bible. It’s okay. If our ministry never offends unbelievers, we’re probably offending God. Be faithful to the Word and let God handle their anger.

    As we minister from an offensive position, may our words be pebbles in their shoes, not boulders on their head.

3. Love—Be Biblically Loving

Biblical love differs from worldly love. It’s hard. Have you mastered 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter? I haven’t—especially when I read the news. I see the evil in the world and am tempted to hate the evil doers. But they’re not our true enemy.

All humans, no matter how evil, are image bearers of God. We once were like them—enslaved to our true enemies, sin and Satan. The world needs to see the same love of Christ we received while we were His enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10). Save the hatred for sin and Satan.

If we stop thinking about what it costs us to love our enemies and think instead about what the kingdom of God gains when a lost soul turns to Christ, our love will grow.

  • Pray for more love, not more boldness.

    I once heard a man say he needed to pray for more boldness to share the gospel. Evangelist Ray Comfort replied, “Don’t pray for more boldness. Pray for more love.” The more we love someone, the more we’ll risk to save them, whether from a frozen lake or the fires of hell.

    Consider a baby. Who doesn’t love a baby? Despite my intense fear of heights, I’d jump off a bridge into icy water to save a child—especially mine. But for my enemy, I’d call 911—unless I loved my enemies like Christ loved me before He saved me.

    I need to pray for more love.
  • Sometimes love hurts.

    “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). Christ didn’t come for the purpose of causing divisions, disputes, and persecution. They’re the natural consequences when the gospel confronts a heart bent on evil. This clash is uncomfortable but necessary.

    Many churches across the world have side-stepped from preaching on sin. They say, “People feel bad enough. They need love, not condemnation.” But those who belong to the world condemned themselves already through their unbelief (John 3:18).

    It’s not loving to entertain people with promises of a benevolent God who only wants to bless them. God is love. He’s also holy and righteous and must judge sin. When Christ returns, He’ll judge all who’ve never accepted His sacrifice for sin. The most loving thing we can do is to warn them.

    We need to feel the heat of the fires of hell and the agony of sin’s consequences before we’ll long for Living Water. The gospel isn’t the gospel without both the heat of God’s holiness and wrath for sin and the warmth of Christ’s love and grace toward sinners.

    Let’s not shy away from seemingly hard Truths to spare people (and ourselves) from uncomfortable conversations. Let’s boldly and unapologetically proclaim the full Truth of God. No matter what it costs us. (Please remind me I said this when you find me in a corner hiding from a difficult discussion.)

4. Defense—Join a Biblically Grounded Church

We talked about maintaining an offensive mindset because God is never on defense. The type of defense I’m talking about here doesn’t attack. It supports. It’s the rear guard—the church.

If we belong to a church that holds firmly to sound doctrine, we’re best equipped and strengthened to minister with boldness. Through the faithful preaching of the Word, we grow together in spiritual maturity and conviction.

When the apostle Peter’s boldness wavered and he bowed to the fear of man and the prevailing culture, Paul boldly corrected him (Gal. 2:11–21). As Paul did for Peter, we need our sisters and brothers to lovingly correct and encourage us to follow the Truth. We need each other.

As these days look more like the days of the judges where everyone does what is right in his, her, or their own eyes—or whichever pronoun the culture tells us to identify with now—we need the church to stay true to God’s Word.

We may sit in the crosshairs of the world, but we have no reason to fear. Not even the gates of hell can prevail against the Bride of Christ—His Church (Matt. 16:18). Congregations will suffer—and earn eternal rewards. Christians will die—and see Jesus face-to-face. No matter what our enemies attempt, the church will remain. And because of the great hope we have in Christ, we can all be like Paul. We can be “very bold.” The time is now.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.—Acts 4:29

Suggested Reading: 

1 Koukl, Greg, Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Reflective, 2019).

About the Author

Jean Wilund

Jean Wilund

Jean Wilund is passionate about leading women into a greater understanding of the Bible and a deeper relationship with God. She serves Revive Our Hearts as a member of the blog team and a moderator for the Women's Ministry Leader … read more …

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