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Philosophy Of Ministry

Joel Dorman
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TABLE OF CONTENTS Foreword ....................................................................................................................................... i Table of Contents.......................................................................................................................... ii Introduction.................................................................................................................................. 1 Biblical Foundations ...................................................................................................................... 1 Matthew 22:36-40............................................................................................................... 1 Matthew 28:18-20............................................................................................................... 2 Ephesians 4:11-13 .............................................................................................................. 4 A Healthy Church .......................................................................................................................... 5 Final Thoughts .............................................................................................................................. 6 Appendix A: Worship Wars ............................................................................................................ 8 Appendix B: Discipleship Methodology .......................................................................................... 10 Works Cited ................................................................................................................................ 12

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Jesus said, “I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18b). This is the foundational principle from which anyone’s philosophy of ministry cannot stray: it is Jesus’ church. A pastor is not the church’s Savior; Jesus is. A pastor is not the one purifying the church; Jesus is. Scripture, as the Word of God, must be the foundation of any philosophy of ministry. Furthermore, the Scriptures provide the best rubric to evaluate the church. This brief treatment serves as an introduction to my philosophy of ministry.

Biblical Foundations At any level, ministry in the church must find itself in the Scriptures. Three passages demand particular attention as they relate directly to the church, its function in the world, and its leadership. These are the some of the essential elements for church ministry: Matthew 22:36-40, Matthew 28:18-20, and Ephesians 4:11-13.

Matthew 22:36-40

Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
In this passage, Jesus silences His critics once again but germane to this discussion, He presents His priorities to His people. It is so critical to notice, Jesus could have chosen any of the purity laws meant to keep His people set apart as witnesses and mediators of His presence to the world, but He did not. Instead, He chose the familiar opening of the Shema (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus’ first priority, and therefore the priority of the Father, was love for Him. Loving the Lord is obedience to the Lord. 1 Samuel 15:22(a) asks, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?” This underscores the importance of worship in the life of the Christian and the church. There is an issue in too many churches of trading worship for something imitating it. “The focus of worship,” Webber writes, “is not human experience, not a lecture, not entertainment, but Jesus Christ—his life, death, and resurrection.”1 Jesus said the Father is seeking worshippers (cf.
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“…Jesus could have

chosen any of the purity laws meant to keep His people set apart…but He did not.”

Robert E. Webber, Worship is a Verb, 2nd ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992), 1.

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John 4:23). This should immediately cause any Christian to make notes: the Father wants to be loved by the only part of His creation that bears His image: humanity. This is not simply an emotion; this is surrender. Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15).2 Since love for the Lord is, by definition, obedience to the Lord, the connection Jesus made to the second half this passage is also critical: love one’s neighbor. Jesus demonstrated His love for the world (His “neighbors”) by willingly dying for them (cf. John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). Since one obeys the Lord, then by definition, they will love others like the Lord. “Loving one another”, Frizzell states, “is of…enormous kingdom priority.”3 True worship, then, moves the church to care for the world around them and share the gospel. It is not an issue of a social gospel. Certainly, the church should be caring for those who cannot care for themselves, but service projects void of the Gospel are not the mission-oriented activities to Christ has called us. Jesus did not feed the multitudes only to fill their stomachs. Matthew 28:18-20

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
These were the final marching orders to Jesus’ soldiers. Again, because the church loves Him and obeys Him, the church loves others as He does. This love finds a natural expression in telling the world about Jesus one soul at a time. The love of Christ in the heart of a Christian creates “an understanding of the power and consequences of sin that compels us to share life with the people around us”.4 It is love for the Lord and His love’s manifestation in His church that compels the church to evangelize. Understanding this connection, the church moves through the world (in both senses: locally and globally) preaching the good news of Jesus’ redemption. Evangelism, in all its importance and significance, is an empty ritual if not motivated by love. “A new command I give you,” Jesus told the apostles, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one

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For discussion surrounding the so-called “Worship Wars”, see Appendix A.

Gregory Frizzell, Releasing the Revival Flood: A Churchwide Journey to Miraculous Unity and God-Glorifying Fellowship (Fulton, KY: The Master Design, 2005), preface.
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Kenneth Hemphill, Splash (Tigerville, SC: Auxano Press, 2007), 74.

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another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:3435).

“Evangelism, in all its importance and significance, is an empty ritual if not motivated by love.”

The church has been guilty, at times, of evangelism without its counterpart: discipleship. This occurs because of too much time spent emphasizing the wrong thing. When Jesus said, “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19), the emphasis was not on “go” but on “make disciples”. They were to win the lost to Christ wherever they would find themselves.5

“People are reached and discipled,” Robinson writes, “one by one, not by masses.”6 Jesus did not spend time on evangelistic methodology as much as He addresses discipleship methodology. In these verses (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus tells the apostles and all witnessing the ascension to teach these new converts “everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20a). This phrase, in concept if not in word, is sometimes absent from modern church practice. The reason is simple: discipleship is the more difficult work to perform. Leading someone to Christ is straightforward. Guiding that new convert into maturity in Christ is a lifetime of work filled with incredible highs and, sometimes, bone rattling lows. The church, however, is commanded to provide comprehensive discipleship. Jesus told us teach the new converts “everything” He had commanded. Jesus taught a lot. Most of Jesus’ teachings rested on volumes of knowledge already revealed in the pages of the Old Testament. When leaders simply command, "go make disciples",

“Guiding that new convert into maturity in Christ is a lifetime of work filled with incredible highs and, sometimes, bone rattling lows”

it is echoing a command from Jesus. There is no question: this should be enough to motivate Jesus’ followers to action. However, if the commonly offered statistic is true that only four percent of Christians ever share their faith, one should wonder if the followers of Christ understand their motivation in fulfilling the Great Commission. A mentor in pastoral ministry offered advice following a sermon, "tell them 'why' and they will find any 'how'." This concept represents a radical shift in preaching, teaching, discipleship and evangelism. The "why" of the Great Commission is the Great

Craig Blomberg, vol. 22, Matthew, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 431.
6 Darrell W. Robinson, Total Church Life: How to be a First Century Church in a 21st Century World. (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 155.

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Commandment. It is love for the Lord that creates love for the souls of the world. It is love for the church that creates the love for discipling them to maturity. Only then can the church achieve “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13b).7 This lifestyle of love (that is, obedience) to the Father is most capable of fulfilling both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Paul further underscores this need of discipleship in Ephesians 4:11-13.

Ephesians 4:11-13

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Dr. Tim Searcy made a statement I have never forgotten, “your job, if you really believe Ephesians 4:11-13, is to train yourself out of a job.” His challenge has served as a guiding principle from then through today. His point was not a church’s ability to survive without leadership (although the ability of a church to continue in ministry through pastoral transition is a sign of health), but a complete understanding of the role of a pastor in the greater context of the church. The first thing we are reminded in this passage is found in the first three words “it was he.” Jesus Christ Himself provided for His bride by giving her all she needed to accomplish her mission on earth. This verse, then, supports the rest of the New Testament in the same assertion Jesus made: it is His church. As the groom, He gave these gifts to the church. This is not a methodology of human invention; its origin was divine. These specific callings listed here focus on the teaching of the Word of God. A common theme throughout the New Testament is the danger of false teaching. There is a clear concept,

“Your job, if you really believe Ephesians 4:11-13, is to train yourself out of a job.” –Tim Searcy

then, that the teaching of the Word is vitally important to the church. False doctrine robs a church of its power and witness. One of Satan’s most effective tools against the church is subtle heresy. It started in the garden with four

deadly words: “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). The church still struggles with the same issue Eve struggled with that day in the garden: did God really say…? Clear teaching of the “whole will of
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For discussion surrounding “Discipleship Methodology”, see Appendix B.

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God” results in one “who correctly handles the word of truth” (Acts 20:27 and 2 Timothy 2:15). Teachers of the Word of God have a high expectation from the Master because it is His bride for which they are caring (and are a part) but additionally, we “know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). These teachers of the Word of God are “to prepare God’s people for works of service” so the congregation is prepared to minister to each other and the world. The result of this equipping is unity in faith, knowledge of Jesus, and maturity. The goal, then, is mature Christ followers. Robinson states, the “Super-Hired Holy-Man-Syndrome” is a “dangerous virus…spreading among evangelical churches”.8 This is very true and this passage counteracts it. The “works of service” was not listed as the responsibility of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, but God’s prepared people. Subsequently, Dr. Searcy’s assertion hits the mark: “your job [as a pastor]…is to train yourself out of a job.” These three passages provide the foundation for my personal mission statement: through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, equip the saints for ministry to the world and each other by intentional and strategic discipleship motivated by love for Christ and His will.

A Healthy Church Any organism suffering from disease or injury is compromised. Depending on the severity of the illness, the organism might be rendered helpless or unable to care for itself. Worse case, the injured or ill organism dies. Since the church is an organism and not merely an organization, the overall health of a church is of paramount importance to building a great church. A great church is a healthy church. This presents the obvious question: how does a “healthy church” look? Too many churches simply do not ask this profoundly critical question. In simplest terms, a healthy church is one that resembles Christ and seeks His will. Christ’s mission, in His own words, was to “seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10). Humanity was, and is, lost and utterly without hope unless the grace of God intervenes through Jesus Christ. If the

“If the mission of Jesus was finding and bringing salvation to those who were lost, then why would the mission of His church be any different?”

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Robinson, 84.

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mission of Jesus was finding and bringing salvation to those who were lost, then why would the mission of His church be any different? It is not. As previous stated, His final (though certainly not only) command was to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). With this in mind, a healthy church is not measured by how many people fill their worship facilities on a given weekend, but by how many disciples are produced who in turn march into the world to continue Jesus’ mission. A paramount issue remains in the goal of a healthy church: conflict. Sadly, so many churches are embroiled with cold wars and open conflicts. Does this have to be normative? I am blessed to have served in several healthy churches, including the one at which I am currently serving. Likewise, I have been blessed in serving in unhealthy churches. This is a blessing because the trials of an unhealthy church make the need for unity so much more apparent. A sick church has essentially no witness in their community, no waters of baptism being stirred, and no disciples being trained. Their worship is empty, their song is mute, and their prayer life is nonexistent. These unhealthy churches need revival—not a week of services, but a spiritual renewal that changes hearts and lives. They must move from their sinful state of disunity to a gloriously powerful state of unity.9

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
Only a healthy church is capable of storming the kingdom of the enemy. Only a unified church can be called great and a great church is, by definition, a healthy, loving, God-worshipping, disciplemaking church. Final Thoughts Certainly, there are many questions this philosophy of ministry raises that space simply does not allow to answer. Some are found in the subsequent appendices, but in all likelihood, these additional questions are ones of “how”. As Stanley states, “your ministry is perfectly designed to achieve the results you are currently getting.”10 However, the issue of “how” is always secondary to “why.” Additionally, the “why” question is always best answered not in a “cookie-cutter” fashion with
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Although no specific quotes were made, the concept for this section came from Frizzell, preface - 25. Andy Stanley, et al., 7 Practices of Effective Ministry (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2004), 185.

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a preexisting mold but with a team approach formulated by those “on the ground”. My philosophy of ministry, then, is again summarized in my personal mission statement: through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, equip the saints for ministry to the world and each other by intentional and strategic discipleship motivated by love for Christ and His will.

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Appendix A: Worship Wars Worship is key to a church; it will not thrive without it. As a former worship pastor, I have been on the “front lines” of the so-called “worship wars” and it all stems from two misunderstandings: focus and fashion. The focus of worship, as explained in the main body of my philosophy of ministry, is Jesus. He is not a passive bystander but the “star of the show”. It is through Him we have a bridge to connect our humanity with the holiness of the divine. Although some try to frame arguments of preference in terms of Scriptural mandate, Scripture does not dictate musical styles. To do so amounts to Biblical bullying. The fashion of worship is where the vast majority of these battles are fought. Issues relating to musical styles, clothing styles, exuberance verses quietness, are all issues of fashion. If all sides were unashamedly honest, they would admit: they will never find their “heart’s music” in a different style than the one they have now. It is a reality of humanity: we are created differently with different tastes. As such, church must find a way to handle the issues of these fashions. One methodology is alternative music styles in different services. Certainly, this has helped many churches with some of these issues, but it is only the first step into the much larger world of venues. Venues are to churches what stores are to malls. Why do malls have so many different kinds of stores? People are different, and they want different things. When churches adopt a multivenue approach, they are not only able to offer the “heart’s music” of more people, they are able to disarm the issues relating to fashion in worship. Some might counter this approach is too “market-driven”. On the surface, the charge appears legitimate. The answer to this accusation is in two parts: 1. When missionaries go into any culture, they do not impose their native culture to the indigenous people groups. Instead, the missionary learns the language and culture of the indigenous group and teaches them Biblical truth through their context. If Christians in America are called to be salt and light (cf. Matthew 5:13-14), why would we adopt a different approach than that which has served missionaries for centuries? 2. People already do this. Why do some attend a certain church and not another? There are some things about the church resonating with them and some things that are not. In other words, there are clear reasons why someone is at your church and not the church down the

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street. This does not negate their ministry as there are people who wish to attend there and not your church. This is the cultural water in which the contemporary church swims. In conclusion, a thriving church is a church worshiping its Savior and Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ. With this sustaining focus, the issues surrounding fashion become tools to reach out and influence the community of churched, unchurched, and dechurched.

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Appendix B: Discipleship Methodology There are two basic discipleship methodologies: menu-driven and simple (most of the time referring to small groups). Menu-Driven Churches Menu-driven has been the driving force behind the mega-church movement of the eighties and nineties. The idea was simple enough: provide many “religious products” in the form of ministries and programs to meet the “felt needs” of the congregation and unsaved. In reality, churches have a “natural tendency to drift toward complexity”.11 The longer they exist, the more items they add to the menu. As the menu grows larger, the number of hands needed to keep the menu up-to-date also grows larger. As the number of hands to keep the menu up-to-date grows, so do their expectations for promotion, place, and pennies. Soon, these menu-driven churches find themselves spending large amounts of money on administrative support that exists not for the people in the programs, but to simply maintain the programs themselves. The constant process of adding new programs becomes a burden as the church has greater difficulty in keeping new believers “on-track” as the options are too great. Additionally, these churches can rarely refuse programs since they feed the menu and meet “felt needs”. As such, they keep adding to a menu without limit and quickly find themselves with a loss of focus, control, and sanity. Furthermore, these churches average under 30% involvement no matter how large their menu is. It seems there would be a better way. Simple Churches Simple churches are often not marked by what they offer but why they offer it (if they do at all). With clearly set boundaries, these “simple churches” can decide quickly if a program or ministry serves the calling they have. A church has limitations and simple churches try to accomplish more by doing less. They focus on key areas and put their energy and resources to those areas. The average simple church has over 60% involvement. There is profound impact with doing less to accomplish more. Instead of doing as many programs as possible at a mediocre level, simple churches more readily specialize and their programs achieve a higher level of excellence through the effort. Many of these simple churches are known for their small groups (North Coast Community Church in Vista, California and North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia are probably the most well-known although there are thousands of these types of churches across the United States).
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Stanley, 101.

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These small groups are the path to discipleship for their church. Although the exact definition of “small group” might be an issue of debate (on-campus verses off-campus, sermon-based or non sermon-based, etc.), they are all groups under fifteen people that share life together. Some simple churches have many of the same ministries of menu-driven churches except they are done in a small group setting. This is not to say all simple churches are built on small-groups, but a simple church is one devoted to a simple path from new believer to mature leader. Lest it go overlooked, simple churches still require administrative support. The sheer percentage of involvement makes this high level of support necessary; however, the result of this administrative involvement is very specialized and has greater results. Typically, these churches need less administrative support overall which makes them more cost-effective, thereby making them better stewards of the resources the Lord has given them. Having been involved in both styles, I can safely say the simple church model has many advantages and certainly nets better results due to its focused effort. Furthermore, the simple methodology allows the church to use its core values as a decision making tool instead of the drive to fill a menu with religious services. It helps the church say “no” to periphery programs so it can say “YES” to ministries and programs that will advance the vision God has given them.

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Works Cited Blomberg, Craig. Vol. 22, Matthew. electronic ed. Logos Library System; The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001. Frizzell, Gregory. Releasing the Revival Flood: A Churchwide Journey to Miraculous Unity and God-Glorifying Fellowship. Fulton, KY: The Master Design, 2005. Hemphill, Kenneth. Splash. Tigerville, SC: Auxano Press, 2007. Robinson, Darrell. Total Church-Life: How to Be a First Century Church in a 21st Century World. Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 1997. Stanley, Andy, et al. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2004. Webber, Robert E. Worship is a Verb, 2nd ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1992.