Philosophy of Ministry
One’s philosophy of ministry is rarely talked about and yet of incredible importance. It speaks to the “why” and “how” one plans to participate in God’s plan for mission and ministry on earth. Over the years, I have refined my own vision and strategy for effective and culturally relevant church ministry. The four foundational values of my philosophy of ministry are: Externally Focused, Internally Strong, Fully Inclusive, and Deliberately Diverse. Please continue reading for an in depth explanation of each of these values:
The Church must never forget what we were commissioned by God for. Scripture instructs us to “Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you.” Additionally, as Presbyterians we affirm that the great ends of the church are:
- the proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind;
- the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God;
- the maintenance of divine worship;
- the preservation of the truth;
- the promotion of social righteousness;
- and the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world.
As a faith community, it can sometimes be tempting to become insulated and focus only on those already in our communion–after all we wouldn’t have to risk rejection or failure in reaching out to others. However, we are invited to participate in the adventure of God’s rescue mission on this earth. As a disciple of Jesus Christ and a leader in the Church, I am committed to passionately pursuing the full realization of the Kingdom of God wherever I am called to serve and am committed to doing whatever I can to help those around me do the same.
In order to meet the needs and adapt to the rapidly changing world, the church must be internally strong. To be internally strong has several meanings.
Firstly, the church must be strong administratively. Policies and procedures, financial stability, and technological skills may not be the most fun topics to discuss but all of them are among key administrative strengths that church needs to weather all seasons in the life of the church. Additionally, healthy growth in the ministry and mission of the church is only possible when a strong foundation has been set.
Secondly, the church must be biblically literate and have clear plans for lifelong discipleship. Every member of the body should have educational opportunities and healthy community to support their spiritual growth and their walk with the Lord.
Lastly, the church needs to be intentional in discerning where God is leading them and open to movements of the Spirit. A congregation that is internally strong has a clear identity as the body of Christ and clear on their particular mission and strategy for serving God and others.
I believe one of the most powerful Scriptures for the Church today is Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” So often I hear stories of people who have been deeply wounded by the Church. They find the Church to be judgmental, unwelcoming, and culturally insensitive. However, these experiences of Church are the complete opposite of what God intends the Church to be.
In my ministry, I strive to extend the radical hospitality and grace to others that Jesus offers all of us. For practical application this may look like making the church facility accessible for those with disabilities, incorporating different languages into our ministries and communications, boldly welcoming those who have been historically ostracized by the Church, treating minority members of our congregation as more than “tokens”, and more.
Finally, I believe that the Church must be deliberately diverse. Scripture tells us that each of us is gifted and equipped by God in different ways for the mission and ministry of the Church. Each of us matter to God and have a role to play in God’s mission on earth. In addition, Presbyterians affirm “unity in diversity” as founding principle in our constitution.
I believe that churches should reflect the diversity of their surrounding neighborhoods. If the local church body is skewed one way or another, than it is time to take a hard look on the inside and address whatever barriers exist within the congregation that are keeping those who differ on the outside. Diversity is a great gift to the Church and essential for mission and ministry.