Philosophy of Ministry

As I interact with other Christians, particularly those going through college at William Carey University, I have noticed that it is typical to hear the caveat, “now I’m no theologian,” when discussing scripture. The peculiarity of the expression caused me to inquire deeper into what people meant by it, and I discovered that, even among those going to school for theology in preparation for ministry, most expressed a discomfort with their thoughts or conclusions being taken seriously. As I dug deeper, this discomfort stems in nearly all cases from a basic unfamiliarity with scripture and therefore a lack of confidence in their ideas of who God is. Even though most have been a part of the church for decades and participated in Bible study for most of that time, they still lack that basic confidence in who they worship.

As you can imagine, this has shaped my vision of God’s calling for me in ministry. My ministry objectives written above should give some hint as to the nature of that vision. My mission, to be executed faithfully the remaining years of my life, is to initiate, facilitate and drive the communication of the Gospel[1], in its entirety and without amendment[2]. My target audience includes the lost and Christians alike[3], and my personal goal in this endeavor is that no person God’s ministry through me touches can honestly say they have not heard or read about God as He communicates Himself in the Bible[4].

Corollary and component to that mission exists a niche where I think my talents and gifts will shine most brightly: in the teaching of theology in all its complexities to the lay Christian. This has two purposes. First, it is my fervent hope to encourage and promote a Christian culture of scholarship, wherein fathers are truly equipped to be the spiritual leaders of their homes[5] and children are no longer fed platitudinous “applesauce Bible study.” Such education is necessary so that they grow equipped to face a human race radically opposed to their faith[6]. Second is the growth of strong, competent lay leadership who are then prepared to turn around and shine the light of the Gospel into the darkness of the world around us. Light attracts, and I fervently believe the healthy growth of the church depends less on the church becoming more contemporary and relevant than on the church itself living the truth of the Gospel before the eyes of an incredulous and increasingly hostile world.[7]

Because of this paradigm, nearly all ministry situations in which I find myself involve some form of lesson or truth to be learned, internalized and applied. In this I show my Taoist background, because I believe that each individual Christian’s sanctification has its parameters set by God. He creates a limited space for us to make decisions and learn.[8] We proceed from situation to situation in life learning and growing more like Christ as God engineers our surroundings for our eternal benefit and the benefit of those around us.[9] It is also my experience that often these lessons are made clearer by time and distance from the situation, and that when we are face to face with suffering it is nearly impossible to remove ourselves from the situation to see it as God might, the better to try and find that lesson. In the midst of great pain, I personally want to be reassured that God is working everything, including my pain, for His glory.[10] This fact comforts me, both in knowing that God is ultimately sovereign over all, and that my suffering has purpose. It reminds me to suffer well, that I may be an example to my family and those around me.

My philosophy of ministry, then, emphasizes two angles on the work we do as vocational ministers: a lifetime of learning about God, and a life experienced with God. These are coequal in importance in the life of ministry I intend to live, both as a husband and father and as a full-time minister of God’s Word to a larger family.


 


[1] Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Romans 10:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Peter 3:15 – We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, ready to give an able defense of the faith in gentleness and respect.

[2] 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Luke 6:40 – God’s Word is His special revelation of Himself to mankind, and as such is inerrant in content and perfectly useful for the discipleship of man.

[3] Ephesians 4:11-16; 2 Timothy 4:2; Romans 10:14-15 –  Those inside and outside the church desperately need to hear the message of grace as often as possible, in order that they might glorify God in their joy at His glorious mercy.

[4] James 3:1; Hebrews 13:17 – We who lead the church and teach God’s Word will be held responsible for what we teach, and the results those teachings have on the souls of those we shepherd. Thus, it behooves us to be meticulously careful in crafting an accurate and faithful picture of Him whose Word we preach.

[5] Ephesians 5:22-33, 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:1-7; Joshua 24:15 – Men are to be the spiritual leaders of their homes, in much the same way that a pastor or teacher of God’s Word shepherds a larger family. The failure of men to lead has, I think, more to do with our failure as a church to train them to do so than any external cultural influence.

[6] Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Colossians 1:9-14 – In order to grow in faith, people of all ages need scriptural meat to challenge and sustain them. As we move the faith of our people into deeper waters scripturally, they become more and more insulated from the tossing waves of public opinion on the surface. This grounding is critical to survival in our postmodern culture which is so hostile to our faith.

[7] Ephesians 5:8-13; Psalm 43:3, 89:15, 119:105,130; Matthew 4:16, 5:14-16; Luke 8:16; Acts 9:3-6 – God is constantly and consistently described as the light of the world. We are exhorted to not hide this light within our church buildings and hoard the riches of grace, but to shine that light like a beacon in a world of darkness. Those outside, we are promised, will see the light and come in.

[8] Romans 6:13,19, 8:13, 12:1; Philippians 2:12-13 – We are co-workers with God in the journey of sanctification. This work takes form in the limited decisions He gives us and in our obedience to learn the lessons presented by the life we’re given.

[9] Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 12:2; Galatians 5:22-23 – But it is God who is the ultimate author of our sanctification, as He is at work in us for His good pleasure. The fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians are not fruits of man’s effort, but of the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts.

[10] Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; John 9:1-4 – All that transpires in creation is either declared by God or permitted by God, for the goodness of His glory.