Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The importance of a well-defined 'Philosophy of Ministry'

While churches are about as varied as the flavor offerings at Baskin Robbins, they generally fall into two distinct camps when it comes to how they do ministry.

The In-Reach model - These churches see their main purpose as leading Christians in worship and discipleship.  Sermons are directed to Christians and the issues they face.  Growth strategies focus on the quality of programs, buildings, and staffing.  The danger of such a model?  These places often become so "Christianized" over time that the people who attend hardly know ANY lost people personally.

The Out-Reach model - These churches have as their main emphasis evangelism and church growth.  Instead of the "Come and see" approach of the in-reach model, these churches have a 'Go-and-Tell' approach to ministry.  The question "How can we grow?" permeates every planning session.  The danger of such a model? Often more emphasis is placed on decisions than discipleship, leading many to a live out a very shallow, emotional spiritual experience/existence.

A successful ministry will intertwine both models.  The better you are at melding the two, the more successful your ministry will be.

Churches need a well-defined philosophy of ministry.  You may call it a "purpose statement."  Every church needs a succinct, clear statement of purpose that can be used to focus/channel ministry resources and staffing.  Should a project, program, or idea NOT fit the purpose statement, it shouldn't be a part of the church's vision.  Our statement of purpose is very simple.  We exist to Exalt Christ, to Equip and Encourage Christians, and to Evangelize the Community.  Everything we do should fall under one of those categories... SOME things will fall under two or more categories.  This helps focus your church on the essentials.  Each individual ministry MUST HAVE the same purposes the church has.  Think what your Sunday School would look like if it had as one of its core values winning the lost.  THINK of what that looks like and how it can be done.

Just as churches need a clearly defined philosophy of ministry, so does the pastor.  FIT is crucial for a long-term, fruitful ministry.  It will be a rough row-to-hoe if a church that follows the In-Reach model hires an Out-reach minded pastor (or vice-versa).  Though churches and pastors can and DO change, it isn't likely for either of them to experience fundamental, drastic change.  Save yourself some heartache and consider the things you are passionate about as a pastor.  What are your goals?  What are the things that make you tick and get your pastoral juices flowing?  Look for those things when considering a potential ministry.  Money should be your LAST consideration when choosing a place to serve.  You can make a good living and be miserable.  Think about it.

Take a few moments to think about how you spend your time, money, and energy.  Is there a way to do it better?  Solomon teaches us to work SMARTER, when he said in Ecclesiastes 10:10, "If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed." (ESV)

Next time, I want to share how I came about my approach to pastoral ministry through study of 1 Peter 5:1-4