If you’ve ever worked or volunteered much at a church, you know there are many aspects of ministry to balance. It can be overwhelming and balls can get dropped.
There are four major components to my personal philosophy of ministry. There will be aspects of ministry that may not be included here, however, the following helps me organize my thoughts and efforts.
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Based on John 10:10, as well as ministry and life experiences, I am convinced that in any Christian endeavor two supernatural beings are always at work. God is at work to promote life and our enemy is at work to thwart life and growth and sabotage spiritual progress. Therefore, we need to actively choose to focus our attention on what God is doing in any given situation rather than on what Satan is doing. I am firmly convinced that our attitudes in life are greatly controlled by the one on whom we set our focus. That is the one we actually serve. Therefore, my personal philosophy of ministry is to first maintain my own focus on what God and what he is doing and then to help others stay focused upon God and be an asset to what He’s doing in their lives.
In the practical outworking of the above principle, I see God entrusting a flock to a pastor’s or teacher’s care with the expectation of their being returned to Him having been well fed, strengthened and protected. Col 1:27-29 speaks of bringing the flock to maturity for God in Christ’s strength. Eph 4:11-16 paints a picture of believers being equipped for works of service so that the body would be a built up, unified, mature, loving and growing organism. I believe these goals are best achieved by sound biblical instruction given in an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion. Efforts will likely include:
- Opportunities for people to evaluate where they are in their walk with God along with suggestions and resources to grow during the upcoming season.
- Expository preaching of Bible books and occasional topical, yet expository, messages.
- Relevant and engaging teaching during Sunday School/Adult Bible Fellowship or other opportunities (seminars, webinars, workshops, conferences, etc.)
- Small Groups that help people discover God’s word and his people in a deeper way.
- Specialized small groups designed to offer a forum for the questioning and a support for the struggling.
- Well-planned prayer meetings would also help maintain focus in, and excitement about how God is working in and through the various ministries of the church.
The choice of the word “find” for ministry to unbelievers is deeply rooted in my philosophy of evangelism. I often view the evangelist as a kind of spiritual midwife. We are not the parent, but we are there to aid in the birthing process. The relationship of the pre-natal child and the parent has long been established and the midwife would not think of doing anything to hinder that relationship. Therefore, rather than striving for a decision or to manufacture spiritual sensitivities, prayerful efforts should be made to discern those in whom God is already working and seek to be an asset in that process.
We need to teach evangelism as a lifestyle proving ourselves good stewards of God’s grace. Teaching on evangelism should be careful to equip the experienced without overwhelming the novice. Telling people about God’s involvement in our lives should be a natural outflow of a child in love with her Father. We must also reinforce the truth that we are in partnership with God and not resemble a multi-level-marketing strategy.
While many choose to focus their efforts on the saved or the unsaved, I am greatly indebted to training from Child Evangelism Fellowship who taught that you may never really know where your audience is spiritually. Therefore, each Bible teaching should include a point of application for the saved and a point of application for the unsaved.
I am thoroughly convinced of the communal nature of the Body of Christ. Not only does God save us, he also adopts as children into his family where we can be encouraged, nurtured, and developed to maturity. The sheer volume of “one-another” passages in the Bible clearly show that Christian fellowship is not just a nice fringe benefit but an essential dynamic of God’s plan.
Hebrews 10:19-25 also show how this should be a key component of our regular gatherings. I am concerned that this could be a missing ingredient in many churches in our day. Beyond the obvious reason of meeting to worship God, the author of Hebrews helps us to realize one of the purposes of meeting together is to encourage one another. We are to follow Jesus’ example and come together to serve rather than be served. Interestingly, if everyone comes together with that mindset each member will leave having served and having been served as well.
“Let us encourage one another” is not just an empty or fluff command. Webster defines encouragement as “to impart courage.” Then defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, and difficulty.” This is exactly the spirit the author is trying to instill in his readers. As we encourage each other, we are to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. I can’t help but wonder what God could do in our world through bands of believers who regularly leave our gatherings encouraged by the body and empowered by the Holy Spirit.