Part I: Why Do We Have a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry?December 20, 2022 Pastor's Articles
Why Do We Have a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry?
As we move forward, there will be continued pressure for Grace Bible Church to change with the times. This pressure originates from our surrounding culture, but there is more than a subtle push to change from within the church. On the one hand, we understand that change in the church is like the seasons. Our ministry is in a constant transition, with people coming and going. On the other hand, we know that not all change is biblical. Therefore, how are we to evaluate our current path and direction as a church? How are we to assess each ministry in the church? These questions underscore our need for a biblical Philosophy of Ministry (POM).
A few years ago, we developed and began to follow our POM, which we framed as our four pillars of ministry. GBC exists to:
- Exalt God
- Exposit the Scripture
- Equip the Saints
- Evangelize the Lost
As part of this process, we also gave four reasons GBC must continue to follow this biblical POM.
A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Binds Us to Scripture
We believe that the principles we use to formulate the governing principles of our church must be derived directly from Scripture. We aim to do God's work in God's way. Therefore, our guidelines should come directly from the pages of Scripture. Many churches set aside biblical convictions for pragmatic reasons, and we feel the same pressure. They feel the pressure to grow and to be "successful in ministry." They often feel this pressure because of the need to pay for ministry. Money must flow to support the church, so they begin to do things not derived from Scripture. They may make the worship time into a concert experience. Or they may shorten and over-simplify the preaching. Or ensure they have the best youth program in town.
Many churches derive their philosophy of ministry from the latest church growth strategies or corporate strategies. But Grace Bible Church must not be governed by principles derived outside of Scripture. Said another way, we must not set aside our biblical convictions for practical or pragmatic reasons.
For example, we may look around and say, "Where's all the people?" We must not have a good worship experience. Maybe we need to have a band up here. Or perhaps the sermons are too long and tedious. We need to shorten them because they're too much. The pastor needs to tell more stories and give more illustrations and applications to lighten it up. He needs more jokes to make you laugh! These are pragmatic reasons. But there may be more practical reasons. We need money to do ministry. The pastors need to be paid every month. That money comes from somewhere – it's called nickels and noses! We count nickels and noses! When there's nobody in the seats, there's no money coming in! So, there's pressure to change the ministry so cash will start flowing again. The pressure to change can become overwhelming. But we must recognize that Scripture is sufficient not only for our doctrine but also for our practice. The Apostle Paul makes this very claim about Scripture.
All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be equipped, having been thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).
Paul understood that Scripture is all we need to be equipped to do the work of the ministry. In his first letter to Timothy, he articulated his purpose for writing the letter:
I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim 3:15).
Paul wanted Timothy to do how to conduct himself in the church of the living God. At GBC, we believe we are the Church of the Living God. Therefore, we are to be the pillar and the support of the truth. We will remain the pillar and support of the truth if we use Scripture to govern our conduct in the church. Therefore, our POM must be based on a careful investigation of the explicit teachings of Scripture and implicit principles drawn from Scripture. As such, a biblical POM binds us to Scripture.
A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Holds Us Steady
In life, we must know where we're going, or we will never know when we get there. In other words, if we have no direction, we'll wander around in circles. It has been said if you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time! We've all witnessed men and women who wander through life with little or no direction. They may have great ideas, but they get bored with them and change direction to something completely different. This reminds me of the story of an ultramarathon runner running a 125-mile race. Around mile 70, he became delirious and began to run in circles on the trail. You don't have to know anything about ultramarathons to know that if he had continued to run in circles, he never would have finished the race. He would have never made it to his goal. The same is valid for ministry.
Any church that approaches ministry without a defined direction will never accomplish its purpose. That church will spin in circles in the middle of the trail and eventually die. If we turn in circles, we will not only waste time but energy and valuable resources if we don't have ministry direction. If we don't have ministry direction set by Scripture, we won't be able to accomplish anything of eternal significance. Therefore, a biblical POM keeps us on a steady path. Paul reminded the church at Corinth that he ran in such a way as not without aim (1 Cor 9:26). We must know where we're going so we can avoid going in the wrong direction, aiming at nothing.
A clearly defined and communicated POM will mobilize a more significant part of our congregation in the same direction. It will narrow our church's focus and broaden our impact, ensuring that our leaders and people are pulling in the same direction. A biblical POM encourages a steady and consistent approach to ministry, so there are not many "fits and starts." In other words, we go over here and we do this, or we go over there and do that. The effectiveness of our church's work will be maximized when we understand and work toward our Lord's priorities for His church.
This is Part I of "Why Do We Have a Biblical Philosophy of Ministry?". Click here to read Part II.