Foundations of Grace Series: What is a Philosophy of Ministry?
(Originally published 7/30/2019)
In this season of church planting, I am blessed to work as a Structural Engineer in addition to my duties as pastor of Grace Bible Church. In my engineering job, I am responsible for the design of steel trusses for use in many buildings we use every day. I am sure that doesn’t sound exciting to most, but I have the privilege of working on some neat projects.
For example, I am currently designing some large and complex trusses for an aircraft hangar. This structure has an opening which spans the length of a football field and allows for eight military fighter jets to enter without any columns or pillars limiting access. The entire hangar roof is suspended from two massive space frames which jut out almost 100 feet and carry enormous loads into the foundation. When completed, this building will be an engineering marvel.
Considerable thought had to be given to ensure that the trusses and frames can support the roof and transfer the loads into the foundation. Of course, the foundation must ensure that the entire structure does not sink into the ground and destroy the building. And, to make matters even more complicated, the building stands on marshy land near the ocean.
Was Jesus a Carpenter or an Engineer?
You don’t have to be a structural engineer to appreciate some of the difficulties I have described. If we compromise with any part of the building’s design, lives and property will be in jeopardy. Much the same, we live in dangerous times and face great difficulties in our culture, and owing to this, the church faces considerable headwinds. In this era of church history, we must use the correct methods and building materials as we serve Christ and His church. Just like the hangar I described, if we do not consult the right blueprints for the church, we are putting God’s people at significant risk. God has provided these blueprints in His word – the bible.
In part one of this series, I wrote about the need for our churches to trust Christ’s promise to build His church. Instead of believing God’s plan, we tend to trust in man’s methods for growing the body of Christ thinking that we need gimmicks to attract people. However, we need to build upon the foundation of the word of God and let God give the growth. John MacArthur has said, “If you concentrate on the depth of your ministry, God will take care of the breadth of it.” If we believe this statement, then we will draw from the tried and true methods of Scripture instead of looking to the world’s devices.
As the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, “[You] are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). When we believe this truth, we can rest assured that Christ knows what’s best for His church, and He will grow it in His perfect timing. But, how do we ensure that we are following God’s word as we do the work of ministry?
What is a Philosophy of Ministry?
In the first article, I also introduced the concept of a biblical philosophy of ministry (POM), which I described as pillars which are built upon the foundation of the correct interpretation of the bible. Just as pillars support the structure of a building, our POM pillars must support the ministries at Grace Bible Church. This effort will ensure that we are conducting ministry according to a right understanding of God’s word. In the following articles, we will explore each of our POM pillars, but before doing so, we will take the time to define what we mean by a biblical POM.
Let’s start with a definition. Our philosophy of ministry is the summation of biblical priorities that determine how GBC GNV is to function. This statement puts forth GBC’s commitment to the priorities of Scripture. We want to know and understand our Lord’s design for His church so that we can live accordingly. To better understand this definition, we should look at a couple of keywords. First, we have used the word “summation” because we have drawn these priorities from the deep well of Scripture. We believe that each priority summarizes the message of Scripture as it relates to God’s use of the church to advance His plan of redemption.
Second, we have chosen the word “priority” because we see each of our ministry pillars as the highest priorities of Scripture for the church. We can undertake many activities as a church, but many of these may not match the priorities of Scripture. We must evaluate each ministry according to God’s priorities, and we must be willing to adjust our ministry focus when necessary. We must be ready to say no to even good things when they do not match our POM priorities.
We must realize that our ministry resources are precious; therefore, we need to focus on our Lord’s prerogatives, not ours. Said another way, when we align our priorities with the Lord’s, we can expect the church to accomplish its mission. As such, we assure the church is functioning as God intends. This assurance underscores the importance of developing and following a biblical POM which provides a summary of the biblical prerogatives, which will cause the people of God – the church – to flourish.
How do we know that our Church is Flourishing?
Of course, many people believe that lots of people and activity shows that a church is flourishing. At GBC, we want as many people as the Lord will bring to us, but we don’t see this as the scorecard for success. We believe that our POM is biblical and is the proper scorecard. In other words, we need to do ministry in a way that glorifies the Lord Jesus. We believe that our POM matches His priorities and will bring Him glory if we evaluate our ministries according to it.
I will end by giving you the pillars of our POM. We are confident that these reflect the prerogatives of our Lord as found in Scripture, and they represent what should be the priorities of the church. We fully realize that these pillars will look incredibly old-fashioned compared to what you will find in many churches. But, we believe they best reflect the heart of Christ for His people. And, we believe that these pillars will ensure that Grace Bible Church Gainesville stands firmly on the chief cornerstone – the rock that is Christ.
Grace Bible Church GNV is committed to four pillars which support GBC’s Philosophy of Ministry. GBC GNV is committed to:
The Exaltation of God
Exposition of Scripture
Equipping of the Saints
Evangelizing the Lost