An interesting conversation this evening prompted me to recollect on the early days of my ministry. In the very beginning, I served at youth director for a large and growing ministry in Florida. Like every youth minister, I had to settle on a set of principles/priorities that would drive and dictate the ministry I desired to have with some incredible young people. What I’ve discovered it that that set of principles is applicable to ALL ministry, not merely a ministry to youth.
The first and most important principle for effective ministry is one’s PHILOSOPHY. A ministry philosophy is that which will determine all else that follows. That philosophy should be biblical, practical, measurable, and implementable. It should produce young people, or adults, that are mature in their faith, passionate in their pursuit of God, focused in their evangelistic efforts, and a duplication of themselves in others.
Second in importance is PEOPLE. Whether you call them your staff, ministry team, employees, something else, people are a ministry’s greatest resource. People are the ones who innovate. People are the ones who implement. People are the ones who impact others. People are the ones who dream God sized dreams. Apart from great people, NO ministry will ultimately succeed. A ministry’s people should be well cared for–whether in compensation or consideration. They should NEVER be pushed beyond their ability to legitimately perform their task. Nor, should they be placed in a position for which they are not gifted or equipped. They should be self-starters and self-motivated. I’ve often said, “Make me pull you back, rather than push you forward.” I’d far rather have an aggressive team member that needs to be a bit reined in, rather than one that must be constantly prompted and pushed to produce. It’s the vast difference between a STEWARD’S mindset and that of a SERVANT. A servant mindset needs constant instruction and supervision. A steward mindset needs neither. (NOTE: I am speaking of one’s mindset, not one’s heart. A steward head with a servant’s heart is the perfect combination.)
Thirdly in importance is PROGRAM. Again, whether a youth ministry or an entire church ministry, pursuit of the latest, greatest program is often the focus of the ministry leader. Good programs are needed and necessary. But, a good program is always subservient to philosophy and people. Without a defined, biblical philosophy and outstanding people, the latest program is useless.
Finally, and least important, a ministry should focus on FACILITIES. Great buildings can enhance effective ministry. But, they are NEVER a replacement for a clarion philosophy and qualified people. Myriad are the times, over the last 33 years, that I’ve seen a minimal facility, but great leadership based on a thoroughly biblical philosophy. At the end of that equation is a great church. Conversely, I’ve also seen
ministries with phenomenal facilities, but no clearly communicated missional philosophy and/or ill-equipped people. At the end of that equation is a poor church. The bottom line is this. God blesses people who live lives in accordance with His truth. Obedience to a biblical philosophy can never be/must never be subservient to, or replaced by, a new building or the latest dynamic program. Buildings and programs are great, but only in their appropriate place.
May God grant His church a crystal clear understanding of what He wants done, and how He desires it to be accomplished. We call that PHILOSOPHY. May God grant His church the most dedicated and talented PEOPLE–individuals who are unequivocally committed to the glory of God and declaration of His gospel in the most powerful and professional way possible. May God grant His church the ability to choose biblical PROGRAMS that actually accomplish His mission. And, may God cause His church to be incredibly wise in the building and use of FACILITIES–buildings that are wisely built, efficiently used, and ALWAYS dictated by a “ministry mentality” not a “museum mentality.”
God’s church is not a museum, but is rather a spiritual hospital for the nurturing, equipping, strengthening, and sending forth of a people prepared for His glory and gospel.