bits from bob....

Shaping Ministry

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

What is a minister? Who is a minister? What is authentic ministry? Meeting our human or institutional requirements and desires does not guarantee authentic ministry which brings "head and heart" together. The elastic nature of ministry not only enables ministry by all kinds of people, it also insists that each ministry be allowed distinctiveness.

The shape of ministry depends upon the responsibilities included; it also depends upon the minister. Ministry must be informed by the context of the ministry and the specific needs of those ministered to. Nor should one neglect the truth that ministry must always be informed by God. Our task is to distill from these four dimensions--the tasks of ministry, the minister, the ministered to, and God's view of ministry--an appropriate direction and focus.

I must be reminded that the question is not merely one of human likes and dislikes, although those cannot be ignored. The ultimate question is how we and the world in which we live and serve can come face to face with who we really are. Effective ministry forges identity for a church and a community.

Is ministry to be measured by the success of the church? If not, what are ministers about? While the tendency to measure the effectiveness of ministry by the results in the church, effective ministry requires differentiating the minister and the results of ministry. Ministry is ultimately about building faithful relationships, both vertical and horizontal. I have observed that effective ministers build faithful relationships, model those relationships, and facilitate relationship-building in the lives of others.

Our success-driven culture has blurred the shape of ministry. Rapid transitions in contemporary society seem to call for flitting from one ministry model to another, from one fad or gimmick to another, or even from one ministry to another. Effective ministry is stable.

Let me encourage you to think, meditate, dream, pray, and be realistic as you work with your minister. Consider such issues as identity, success, and relationships. These are still the times that try men's souls, and they also try ministers who are trying to communicate and model God's message to our world with integrity.

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Last updated October 9, 2003.