Philosophy of MinistryIntroduction
A philosophy of ministry is a statement of the fundamental or general principles and values one holds to be true about Christian ministry. It outlines the how and why of ministry. The principles stated in this philosophy of ministry were originally worked out in the ministry of South Evangelical Presbyterian Fellowship in Denver, Colorado. The following seven principles have been adopted as the philosophy of ministry for Wellington Community Church.
- The standard of our ministry is the Bible, not human wisdom. In all matters of ministry the Word of God will be our standard of faith and practice. It is the Bible that is God-breathed and useful to bringing about the spiritual maturity the Lord desires for His people (II Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 4:4). So the Bible is our message book. That is, all of our teaching and preaching will be grounded in and governed by the written Word of God contained in the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments (cf. Mark 7:6-13; Titus 2:1). Furthermore, the Bible is our method book. That is not to say that we will employ only the methods seen in the pages of the Bible, but it does mean that we will measure our methods and programs against the principles of the Scriptures (e.g., I Corinthians 12:39, 13:13; II Corinthians 4:1-6; I Thessalonians 2:1-12). The message we proclaim and the means or methods of our ministry must be judged and ruled by God’s Word.
- The focus of our ministry is people, not programs. God commands us to love people, not just run programs (Matthew 22:34-39; Luke 10: 25-37). Loving people in the name of Christ will be the primary concern of our ministry, second only to the love of God and the exaltation of His name. God’s concern is for the salvation of His people, not for the creation of institutions, organizations or programs (John 3:16). Programs are helpful tools when used to meet the needs of others, but are never an end in themselves. This means that when developing ministry programs we will begin with seeking the Lord about the needs of His people. We will not begin simply with good ideas of things to do, but will build ministry programs on the cornerstone of the needs of people. Programs are only as good as they help God’s people grow in Christ-likeness and when they are no longer helpful they need to be altered or brought to an end. People are eternal, programs are not (for example, Mark 6:30-44; I Corinthians 3:1-2; Hebrews 5:11, 6:3).
- The goal of our ministry is mature Christians, not simply converts. In the New Testament we are told that the Lord’s goal in salvation is to conform us to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:20; I John 2:6; 3:1-3). He commissioned the Church to go into the world and make disciples, not simply converts (Matthew 28:19-20). Disciples are people who are following Christ, submitting to His teaching and being transformed by His Spirit into His likeness. All who have tasted of Christ are supposed to grow up in Him and not remain spiritual babies (I Peter 2:2-3; Hebrews 5:11, 6:3). By divine design the Church is to be a place where every member has a role to play so that all become mature in Christ and are not subject to false doctrine and deceit (Ephesians 4:14-16). In the spirit of the great apostle Paul, we are to proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect (or mature) in Christ (Colossians 2:28). Holiness and the obedience that flows from faith are what the Lord of the Church is looking for in His people, so that is our goal (Hebrews 12:14; I Peter 1:15-16; Galatians 5:6; Romans 1:5). Practically speaking, we would define maturity in terms of seeing believers growing in obedience to the two great commandments, to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbors as our selves. This in turn can be expressed in the four priorities of a Christian’s life: commitment to Christ, commitment to the family, commitment to the Church and commitment to the work of Christ among the lost. The goal of our ministry is to see people following Christ into maturity in these four areas.
- The context of our ministry is the corporate Body of Christ, not individualism. The corporate Body of Christ is essential to the mission of the Church in the world. The Lord said that the world would know the truth of the gospel and of God’s love for us when it would see the people of God united in loving one another (John 13:34-35; 17:20-23). God displays the glory of His love for us in Christ not just through individuals, but through a body of people who genuinely love each other. Jesus puts before us a priority of being the people who genuinely love each other. Jesus puts before us a priority of being the people of God before we do the work of God. Together, as a holy temple, we proclaim the excellencies of our God (I Peter 2:4-10). So the mission or witness of the Church is dependent not on individualism, but on the Body of Christ as a whole. Moreover, the corporate Body of Christ is fundamental to the maturity of all believers. God has placed each and every believer in the Body of Christ and, in doing so, He has equipped them to manifest His grace and power in such a way as to edify all the other members (I Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 4:7-16; I Peter 4:10-11). All followers of Christ are commanded to teach, admonish, and encourage one another so that we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, Jesus Christ (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25). There is no growth in Christ apart from the Body of Christ. We must recognize that we need each other and that no one person has all that is needed for the mission of Christ or maturity in Christ.
- The leaders of our ministry are to be servants and examples, not lords. The Lord Jesus told His disciples on several occasions that the character and nature of leadership and greatness in the Kingdom of God are contrary to what is seen in the world. He said that leadership and greatness are characterized by humility, self-denial and a servant’s heart (Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45). Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and His role as a servant is our standard for leadership in the Church (John 13:1-17; II Corinthians 4:5). Like the first disciples, Jesus calls us to follow Him ad that includes being like Him in meekness and gentleness (Mark 1:17; Matthew 11:28-30. Not all are called to roles of leadership, but those who are must be examples for the people of God, leaders whose lives and faith can be imitated by those they lead (I Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7; I Peter 5:2).
- In all things God is to be glorified! Our God is a jealous God and He has a passion for His glory. He will not give His glory to anyone or anything else (Exodus 34:14; Isaiah 42:8; 4:11). His passion is to fill the earth with His glory, and so that will be our longing as well (Psalm 57:5, 11; 72:19; 96; 108:5; I Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23). We will seek to magnify the name of the Lord that His people will gladly forsake their love of the world for His love. And we will be careful to recognize that all glory, praise, honor, power, and worship belong to our God in Heaven!