Phil Miglioratti Interviewed Robert Hosken, Author of "The Ministry Driven Church"

Phil Miglioratti  @ The Reimagine.Network


PHIL >>> Robert, how did you come to set "ministry" as the driving purpose of the Church? ... And how would this be a game-changer for most pastors and congregations?


ROBERT >>> After reading Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Church" (he wrote a nice recommendation for my book), I decided to reimagine that title. The word "ministry" in Greek is "diakonia" and of course the first seven "diakonoi" - deacons (Acts ch. 6) were selected to share the load of practical ministry with the Apostles because the Apostles alone couldn't keep up with the Church's growing so rapidly (v. 1). The result was: "Then the word of God spread, and the number of disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem" (v. 7b). This shows us that practical ministry to widows and orphans, the poor, lame, maimed, and blind, was the key ingredient to rapid church growth. My book "The Ministry Driven Church" is my D.Min. dissertation on this theme.



PHIL >>> Before inserting ministry as the central role, what would leaders need to "re-place" or reposition?


ROBERT >>> Some of my later research shows that the church expanded greatly because it built hospitals, orphanages, and old folks homes and staffed them with Christian doctors who were often also priests, Christian nurses and other staff (see "HEALTH AND HEALING IN BYZANTIUM" and "Seek the Welfare of the City.") But over the centuries, especially in the last century, we have allowed these functions to be taken over by the secular state's welfare programs and socialized medicine. So in order to grow again, it must be relevant to society: the church needs to reclaim her social ministry.


The Evangelical movement is based upon witnessing, soul winning and studying the Bible. But if the main thing is just to get people saved from sin and on their way to heaven, why didn't Jesus, right after His baptism when John said: "Behold, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world!" - go immediately to Calvary, be crucified and rise from the dead? NO! There's more to salvation than just going to heaven. "Salvation" is "soteria" in Greek and it has the dual meaning of healing as well as going to heaven. Jesus came to heal body and soul. In my role as editor of a revision of the Russian Bible and producing a harmony of the Gospels during our 17 years as Evangelical missionaries in Russia, I studied the ministry of Jesus, the Messiah (Christ). He began His ministry by reciting in the synagogue the prophecy of Isaiah that the Messiah would heal the sick, give sight to the blind, etc. Then He spent 3.5 training His disciples: showing them how to do diakonia-ministry and then sending them out to actually do that kind of ministry. Only then did His time come to die, rise again, and go to heaven.



PHIL >>> In the Preface, we read:

The Ministry Driven Church covers the following twenty-one aspects of ministry as found in the Bible: fellowship (koinonia), making disciples (matheteuo), worship (latreia) and divine service (leitourgia), servanthood (pais) and bondservice (douleuo), practical service (diakonia), sanctification (hagiasmos), evangelizing (euaggelizo), proclamation (kerygma / kerusso), love (agape), joy (khara) and peace (eirene), moderation (epieikes) and self-control (egkrateia), liberation (eleutheria), wholeness (teleiosis), edification (oikodome), grace (kharis), truth (aletheia) and light (fos), intercession (enteuxia) and unity (henotes).

...How does a ministry-driven approach require us to rethink/reimagine each of these components?


ROBERT >>> The book attempts to illustrate the "semantic field" of the word diakonia by exploring many of the nouns found in the same context along with diakonia. That's the way a child learns a language, by hearing how words relate to each other in their contexts. So all of the above words are found repeatedly in the context of diakonia, thus helping us to define what that word diakonia really means. Ministry does not entail going to seminary and just learning Greek, Old and New Testament studies, exegesis, homiletics, etc. Ministry means to learn how to do what Jesus and His followers did: real hands-on diakonia.



PHIL >>> What is the role of prayer? Where does it fit into a ministry-driven system?


10560602883?profile=RESIZE_400xROBERT >>> Of course, prayer is essential. Jesus, although God incarnate, had to recharge His batteries by spending many hours being "plugged in" by being in prayer with His Father. So communion with God the Father and intercession (enteuxia) for others are vital to continue plugging on in daikonia-ministry. Otherwise, we can suffer burnout or breakdown.



PHIL >>> You wrote: "Real ministry means service." And you use acronyms to make your point. Please unpack:

  • WWJD?

ROBERT >>> This was a popular acronym years ago - maybe that dates me. It stands for "What Would Jesus Do?" It helps people to imagine how Jesus would respond in our real-life situations.

  • WDJD?

ROBERT >>> This is my version of that old acronym. It stands for "What Did Jesus Do?" The fact is that we can only imagine what Jesus might do in any situation -- people can come up with wildly different answers. So we need to explore what Jesus actually did in His 3.5 years of ministry. Then we should...

  • DWJD!

ROBERT >>> "Do What Jesus Did!" Diakonia!



PHIL >>> What more would you like to say that will challenge us to reimagine ministry?


ROBERT >>> Winston Churchill was not only a great statesman, he also had a life-long interest in architecture. He once said: "We shape our buildings, and then they shape us." We design churches as beautiful cathedrals or simple rectangles with a steeple, a meeting hall, and Sunday School rooms. They are meeting places, but seldom diakonia-ministry places. We need to re-imagine our buildings and shape them to allow us to re-shape ourselves, to be able to do diakonia-ministry. We need accessible architecture and spaces where the poor, the lame, the maimed, and the blind can be restored to the image of God by our doing diakonia-ministry with them.


26% of people in the U.S. have disabilities, the majority of them being mobility problems. We don't see them because they can hardly get out and get to church, go shopping, etc. So bring the church to them! Build accessible housing with a chapel. We need to practice agape-love, that is, Christlike, self-giving love, not self gratifying "love" - "all love is love," the lie of the devil, is simply an excuse for people's self-obsession.


We each have 168 hours in a week: subtract 40 hours for work, 10 hours coming and going to work, 56 hours for sleep, 30 hours for household tasks, leaving 32 hours of "leisure time." What if we re-imagine our use of that free time: give 10% of it, 3 hours per week, to doing actual diakonia for lonely widows who can't maintain their homes, or the disabled in nursing homes who are rarely visited by their own relatives. Doing simple things like getting a sink drain unplugged for a widow and buying her a new stopper, or bringing her a framed photo of her with her favorite grandson, or bringing some treats to a disabled person in a nursing home, singing hymns and praying with him. Just 3 hours each week! We've done such things and it re-shapes our lives. DWJD: Do What Jesus Did!

Here's how to learn about our "Agape Restoration Communities" - then scroll down halfway to see how to get a free copy of my e-book "The Ministry Driven Church."


PHIL >>> Robert, please compose a prayer that expresses our desire to implement biblical teachings that will produce a ministry-driven congregation (or team, organization, small group).


ROBERT >>> Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner, and re-shape me, renew my mind and transform me into Your divine image that I was created to have; re-shape and transform our churches into places for real, hands-on diakonia-ministry; in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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  • UPDATE from the Author - -

    Welcome to  A R C-N e w s,  30 July 2022
    Fortnightly Report on Christian Agape-Care in Secularized Societies,
    by Dr. Robert D. Hosken

    Go to: The News | Our Views | Prayer & Praise | Previous Issues


    WE NEED YOUR HELP! Perhaps you've read this before and are wondering, "Why am I seeing this again?" But millions of other Christians haven't seen it! So please use the "share" buttons above to share it with your social media friends. Thanks!!

    Free e-Book: The Ministry Driven Church

    GMyBz2xe4ioz1zIId2doW-J7OPadJsUH61GHWzblhHrNpuEtu5mLZBZrHvNpEuLjaPTKxA-Mm0ozCUnsrCcX-vT6ZH-yH5qhKh9vZOsuQBgtwl7zInSmQPhTAg=s0-d-e1-ft#<a rel=nofollow href=" alt="The Ministry Driven Church" width="35%" align="left" border="0" hspace="5" data-bit="iit" />I'd like to give you my e-book The Ministry Driven Church, but first let me tell you a little about myself: In 1957 when I was 14, I committed my life to serve Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. The next summer, over 60 years ago, while taking care of lawns at an apartment complex, the Lord gave me a vision: I saw a map of the Soviet Union in the sky and a voice said: "Remember this apartment complex plan - you'll build it when you're an old man." And I remember that there was something special about the stairs, but I didn't understand what it was. Now I'm over 75, so I guess I'm old enough to start this new project!

    The next year, I preached my first sermon at an inner-city mission, then I led our high school debate team to the state championship, I was elected president of our high school's YFC (Youth for Christ) club, I won the city-wide Denver YFC "preacher boy" contest and led and won the Bible quiz team contest on St. Paul's letter to the Galatians (I memorized all six chapters so I knew the answers). I won second place in a national German language contest. I also memorized lots of Shakespeare – big chunks of MacBeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet – for English class.

    Right after high school I went into the Army and learned Russian – we had to memorize 4-6 pages of conversational Russian every day. Realizing I was good at memorizing, I started memorizing Scripture: by now I've memorized most of the New Testament, many selections from the Old Testament, and just recently I've finished up memorizing the Book of Psalms, rotating between four languages.

    After active duty in the Army, I enrolled in university and studied more languages, history and political science of Central and Eastern Europe. In my first two semesters I took 41 credit hours and got a 4.0 GPA. By receiving 15 credit hours for my Russian training in the Army and by taking summer courses at the university, I had completed two years of coursework in one year. But then the next year, while serving as president of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter on campus, I became acquainted with a wonderful, amazing young lady who was the IVCF chapter secretary and as they say, "the rest is history!" I graduated in three years with a 3.4 GPA.

    After working a couple years to pay off college loans, my wife Cheryl and I served as missionaries to Central and Eastern Europe for 3.5 years, preaching, translating, proofreading, editing and printing Christian literature in many languages, taking Bibles, New Testaments and other Christian literature to Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians behind the Iron Curtain. Both of our children were born abroad.

    Then we returned to the U.S. to raise our family, earned more degrees (I got a 4.0 GPA in computer programming, Cheryl got a Master's degree in the Psychology of Rehabilitation), and we both got into consulting: Cheryl in vocational rehab and I as a software consultant. I managed projects ranging from about $100 million to $1 billion in annual cash flow. So we earned enough to vacation all around the U.S. and Europe, and send our children off to private colleges.

    But as the Soviet Union was falling apart in 1991-93, we sold our passive solar house I had designed and where we had lived for 15 years, invested in an apartment building, and we "semi-retired" and returned to full-time mission work in Russia just before I turned 50, living on 1/10th of our previous income and starting several Evangelical churches there.

    In 1996 I began work as General Editor of Agape-Biblia, a revision of the Russian Synodal Translation of the Bible. It was the first online Russian Bible for the Windows Operating System and for several years when you searched for "hypertext Russian Bible" it was on the first page of Google. In 2006 the second printed edition of this revised Russian Bible was published.

    While teaching at a university in the provinces of Russia, we met a very bright disabled young man and I finally understood that vision: the stairways should be ramps! Why not an elevator or a stair lift? In an emergency such as a fire or when the electricity goes out or the elevator breaks, they could be trapped if depending on an elevator or a stair lift. Disabled people can't use the stairs and it's awfully hard to carry them in a wheelchair down the stairs – we've learned that the hard way! With most older couples it's the man who ages first and becomes disabled: he very likely weighs more than his wife who often injures her back or knees trying to lift or carry him. Also, we've met many older people – able-bodied and disabled – who have been trapped in an elevator so now refuse to ride them.

    In 2006, we reached a few important milestones: I completed my doctorate degree and published my dissertation in book form as The Ministry Driven Church. You're welcome to buy the printed version that normally sells for $10 + S&H, or the e-book version for $2.99 ...but right now I'm offering it to you for free if you'll take the brief survey below.

    I've pretty much completed my editing of Agape-Biblia (an editor's work is never done – there are always typos to fix and other corrections to make). We average over 1,000 visits per day to four websites that now include seven interlinked Bibles in various languages, Daily Prayers, Journals and Scripture Memory Systems in English, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, German and French, our "Social Ministry of the Church" courses, an e-newsletter and blog, plus lots of Free Literature.

    Also in 2006, Cheryl joined me starting to receive Social Security. While in Russia, we Discovered Original Christianity – the fullness of the Christian faith. We moved back to the U.S. in October 2007 for health reasons, after serving almost 17 years in Russia, and joined the Orthodox Church in 2008: see Our Homecoming.

    But as we tell people: we're not retiring (and we're not shy, either)! You know what Jesus Christ said in Revelation 2:10b about retirement? "Be faithful unto retirement, and I will give you a nice fat pension with 100% health insurance benefits." NOT! That Bible text says – "Be faithful unto death" – it doesn't say anything about retirement plans! So we're "semi-retired – we put on a new set of semi-tires and we'll keep on trucking" until we reach our heavenly destination – we might have to make more frequent stops for rest and maintenance along the way, though. We exercise when we get up every morning, and before the Covid-19 pandemic we worked out at the health club three times a week – Cheryl on the exercise machines and I in the pool where I tried to swim a mile or more each time. Most weeks I made it!

    After we returned to the U.S., partly because of Cheryl's surgeries – she isn't be able to lift patients any more – we began to devote much more of our time to teaching Cheryl's one-year, six-course program "Social Ministry of the Church" online in Russian and English. We've also done job counseling at FOCUS+Pittsburgh, an inner-city Orthodox mission. Also, we're available to speak at churches and elsewhere – wherever we're invited – to explain our vision of Agape Restoration Communities. We'd like to tell you a bit about this concept now, and give you some more information that you can read at your leisure.

    We envision Agape Restoration Communities as Christian co-operatives that provide the physical facilities for a Ministry Driven Church. See our six sketches for an 12-living-unit building including a community room/chapel and restrooms: most of these homes are wheelchair-accessible from ground level. When a family sells its old house or condo to move into one of our homes, the money from the sale of their old home will be used to pay for their shares in the ARC housing co-operative: thus, the ARC becomes self-financing.

    Why co-ops? Several well-known businesses are actually co-ops, including REI, Ace Hardware, Land'o'Lakes, Ocean Spray, Blue Diamond and every credit union. They are distributed ownership organizations that create economies of scale, and are especially empowering for economically disadvantaged groups such as women, minorities, and people with disabilities: by creating ownership – owning instead of renting – it changes lives!

    Because shareholder-residents of the co-op community purchase shares for their living unit and jointly own the common areas, land and parking facilities, this also greatly reduces The Ministry Driven Church's cost of operation and it gives the church a wonderful opportunity to minister to "the poor, the lame, the maimed and the blind, to widows and orphans." Rick Warren, who wrote a nice recommendation for my book, wrote on pages 78-79 of his best-selling book The Purpose Driven Church -

    Winston Churchill once said, "We shape our buildings, and then they shape us." Too often a congregation is so anxious to have a nice building that the members spend more than they can afford. Paying for and maintaining the building becomes the biggest budget item. Funds needed to operate ministries must be diverted to pay the mortgage, and the actual ministry of the church suffers. The tail ends up wagging the dog.


    Our son Rob, when he was studying for his master's degree in architecture, wrote a paper on this topic. While reading it, I was deeply struck by the degree that human society and culture are enormously influenced by its architecture. The shape and design of our buildings greatly influences how people live and function in them – as Churchill said, "We shape our buildings, and then they shape us."

    But you may ask, "Isn't this just a bit far-fetched?" This concept is do-able: the idea of co-op housing communities has already been embodied by Realife, Inc. in 25 such non-profit housing cooperatives in the U.S. Midwest. (I have no affiliation with Realife, we've just heard about them and then visited one of their cooperatives in Eau Claire, WI.) We lived in a shared community in Austria in our early mission work, so we know how it works. We have signed a proposal for professional architectural drawings and have funds for this and other preliminary legal work required so we can begin finding potential residents who promise to purchase shares in this unique living cooperative / worship center.

    Maybe you're young, going to college or starting your career: you don't want to pour rent money down the drain, but buying a house is just too expensive. You could live in a faith-based community and build up equity in your co-op living unit! Perhaps you have a child or an elderly parent with a disability – how will you manage your life with them?

    Or perhaps you are "empty nesters" like us, and you'd really like to take a mission trip for a month, or three or even six months, but who would take care of your house? You may have begun thinking more about the reality of old age and death: it may come swiftly... but more likely it will come slowly: 70% of elderly people spend three years on average disabled, in expensive assisted living or a nursing home before they pass away.

    The average savings of retired people is about $250,000, but that includes the very wealthy people who have much more. So the median (mid-point) is less than $50,000, and many people have almost zero savings. If the end of your earthly journey comes slowly, who then will minister to you? Will not most or all of your resources then be quickly used up to live in an assisted living center or nursing home at $5,000 per month or more? That's essentially like paying for a nice hotel with room service, pouring your money down the drain for rent! And when your money runs out, you go to a "third-tier" Medicaid-paid nursing home with double-occupancy rooms and two TVs, three basic meals per day, and under-staffed nursing care.

    Isn't it time instead to go through this open door now, using your limited resources to build up the kingdom of God? Why give away your life savings to a secular assisted living center or nursing home? A caring Christian co-op community can greatly reduce this expense and at the same time build up the kingdom! Be honest with yourself: are you going to hand over your retirement savings to a secular nursing home, or will you use it to minister to the building up of the Body of Christ... and provide a home for yourself where you can eventually age-in-place?

    In Rev. 3:8 the Lord says, "I know your works (behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut), that you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and haven't denied My name." Isn't it time to be pro-active about what may happen in the future, and use the "little strength" and limited resources you have to minister for the Lord to "the poor, the lame, the maimed and the blind, to widows and orphans"?

    As St. Peter said to the crippled man at the Temple gate (Acts 3:6), "Silver and gold have I none, but what I have, that I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!" My wife and I are semi-retired, so we have very limited financial resources, but we are freely sharing our skills and experience with you so you can help others gather together their limited resources, rise up and form Christian Co-operative Communities. See below about how to contact us. And enroll in our free courses to see how YOU can do diakonia-ministry!

    Your fellow-servant,

    "Dr. Bob"

    Robert D. Hosken, M.Min., D.Min.

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