A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry – Part 3
… Continued from the April Issue]
(Adapted by Chris Williams)
Note: This is a 3 Parts Series. This is the third part and concluding part of this Article.
A SUFFIECIENT VIEW OF SCRIPTURE OF GOD IS THE BASIS OF A BIBLICAL VIEW OF MANKIND …
- A Low View of Man
- Mankind is totally depraved.
- On his own he cannot do good. (Rom. 3:10-18)
- On his own he is unable to understand or accept the things of God. (2 Cor.1:18; 2:14)
- His heart is deceitfully wicked. (Jer. 17:9-10)
- His goal in life is selfishness and only evil continually. (Gen. 6:5; Eccl. 9:3)
That man is depraved means not that he always acts as wickedly as possible, but rather that wickedness so permeates his entire being that he is enslaved to it and is therefore inherently unable to respond to the Gospel in faith and repentance. This reality has profound implications for the ministry of the church, particularly in the area of evangelism. Because the unbeliever is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1; Col 2:13), no amount of eloquence on the part of the evangelist is able to grant him life. Because he is spiritually blind, no amount of human logic or reason is able to open his eyes to the truth. And because he is spiritually enslaved to sin, no amount of evangelistic persuasion is able to free him from his unbelief. In light of these truths, the evangelist must depend not on his own rhetorical ability to convince the sinner to come to Christ, for this ability simply does not exist. He must look instead to the One whose power supercedes his own in drawing sinners to faith in the Savior. Simply stated, the evangelist’s hope as he seeks the conversion of the lost is found in the sovereignty of God.
- Man was created to glorify God, but because of sin, he seeks to glorify himself (Rom. 3:23).
Note: A sinner is alienated from God, and as a result, he will seek fulfillment from the world’s evil system (1 John 2:15-17). The implications are disturbing:
- Christ will not be seen as the only solution to man’s needs.
- Substitutes will be provided that promise fulfillment and a better view of self.
- Felt needs rather than real needs will be addressed.
Result: The church produces people who make choices to solve their life’s problems based on what they believe will practically meet their perceived needs.
Questions to consider:
- Is the goal of your teaching to confront sin and see God change lives, or to please people and make them feel good about themselves?
- Are your people more Christ like today than they were a year ago? Can they measure their spiritual progress?
- Are you living out a life that reflects total dependence on God as a model to your people?
KNOWING THIS ENABLES US TO FORMULATE MINISTRY THAT SEEKS TO MEET REAL NEEDS, NOT JUST FELT NEEDS. THEREFORE, THE GOAL OF ALL TRUE MINISTRY IS TO LEAD MAN TO A GREATER RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO HIS WORD.
AN ACCURATE ANTHROPOLOGY OF MAN ENABLES US TO CORRECTLY UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH…
- An Accurate View of the Church
In Matthew 16:18, Christ said, “I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it,” and He has done just that! The church, which is comprised of all who have repented of their sin and placed their faith in Christ, is a living organism made up of true believers who “offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). Christ so loved the church that He died for her (Eph. 5:25) that He might sanctify her and present her to Himself in all her glory, blameless and without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:26-27). Christ both nourishes and cherishes the church (Eph. 5:29), and exists as head over His bride (Eph. 5:23). The church, having been “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20), is to function as “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). It is through the church that believers are equipped to mature into the likeness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16) and unbelievers are presented the Good News of the Gospel (Matt 28:19-20).
Because the church constitutes God’s primary vehicle for working in this age, it is vital that all believers identify with, function in, and submit to the leadership of, a local church (Heb. 13:17). Believers are to edify one another with their spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11), regularly assembling together (Heb. 10:24-25) that they might devote themselves to the teaching of God’s Word, fellowship, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and prayer (Acts 2:42). Because of the premium that Scripture puts on this kind of involvement in the local church, a given ministry must seek to foster in God’s people a deepening love for and commitment to the church, as well as a biblical understanding of what it means to function as the church.
- The church exists to worship and glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31; Heb. 13:15)
- The church exists to be a repository of divine truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
- The church exists to provide a context of loving fellowship with one another for the purpose of mutual edification (Eph. 3:16-19; 4:12-16).
- The church exists as a training center whereby people can grow through the application of teaching and the utilization of their spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14; Rom. 12; Eph. 4).
- The church exists to be a light in this dark world, for the evangelization of God’s elect (Mat. 5:13-16; 28:19-20; Tit. 2:11-15).
- The church exists to provide accountability to the purity of the church (Matt. 18).
Note: A failure to correctly understand the purpose of the church leads to superficial and counterfeit ministry, resulting in disunity, and “program success” is glorified rather than God. People become passive spectators rather than active participants. Leadership is forced to spin all the plates to keep the programmes functioning.
Result: The church becomes an organization, run by men and programs, rather than an organism of committed believers empowered by the Spirit of God.
Questions to ponder:
- How do you define ministry success?
- Do you find yourself caught in the tyranny of the urgent?
- Do you find that you spend most of your time putting out fires?
- Are your people being equipped and motivated to exercise their spiritual giftedness?
- Does your ministry structure revolve around maintaining programs or building character into the lives of your people?
A CORRECT PERCEPTION OF THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH HELPS US TO CORRECTLY UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP…
- A Biblical View of Church Leadership
Spiritual leaders are not masters but servants. Their servant-leadership comes from their divine call to serve (Acts 20:29).
The New Testament teaches that the local church has elders or overseers who have special responsibility to equip (Eph.4:11) and care for (Acts 20:28) and teach (I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9) the members. Furthermore the New Testament teaches that the members are to respect (I Thess. 5:12) and be submissive to these leaders (Heb.13:17), but not to treat them as infallible (I Tim. 5:20).
- Leaders must reflect the character of Christ to be models for the flock (1 The. 2:4-12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
- Leaders must adequately equip their people to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12).
- Leaders must provide ample opportunity for them to do this work (Heb. 10:24-25).
- A failure to correctly understand biblical leadership leads to unbiblical discipleship and modeling and skewed ministry priorities.
- A lack of biblical priorities leads to ministry in sin with a focus on skills or ability rather than godly character. This can lead to disqualifying sins.
- Lack of adequate equipping for the task leads to frustration, which can produce a high turnover of lay leadership.
- Lack of adequate equipping leads to the failure to reproduce oneself in ministry, which results in the few faithful doing all the work.
A well-articulated philosophy of ministry that is biblical is essential to “doing ministry God’s way.” It’s crucial that this biblical philosophy of ministry be the grid through which all your ministry decisions are filtered and passed.
Develop it … absorb it … live by it … and teach it to your people.
A Possible Church Mission Statement: To glorify God and extend His kingdom by living and proclaiming His truth in the world.