bits from bob....

Principles for Ministry: Creating Lasting Value

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

Bill George's new book, Authentic Leadership (2003), provides insight into several interesting principles for ministry. The subtitle of his book, "Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value," suggests in advance that ministers and other church leaders might find something of value. My purpose in this article is to identify a few principles from the book that are of interest in ministry. The church will benefit if all church leaders--elders, deacons, teachers, and preachers--will let these ministry principles guide their work in the church. Churches that are focused on lasting value or values are the hope of our world.

People ministry. Ministry is focused in people. Effective ministry is never focused in programs, procedures, policies, or profits (contributions). In our desire to develop a professional ministry, we have redefined ministry. Perhaps we need to be reminded that ministry is more vocation (calling) than profession. It is not occupation (something to occupy time). Nor is it a job. Every church leader must ask, "Why am I doing this?" If the answer is not "for the people," ministry will never make sense, will often be questioned at the first crisis, and will seldom be effective. Focusing on programs or profits seldom brings the desired end; ministry "for the people" brings multiple serendipities.

Responsible ministry. In ministry, "the rubber meets the road" in the lives of individuals. No church leader or minister can bear the burden of being responsible for the success of the local church or congregation. Ministry must never be about getting the attendance or contribution or conversion rate up. Responsible ministry is about biblical commitments that make Christians responsible for one another.

Balanced ministry. George says "balanced leaders develop healthier organizations." Balanced ministers and church leaders develop healthy churches. If church leaders would spend as much time asking about the health of the church as they spend asking about the growth of the church, the church would grow. Ministry requires balance, a concept worthy of an entire article of book.

Plastic ministry. Leadership is not in a set of principles that can be applied in every life and every situation to make a person a success. A person who ministers by cultivating a set of successful leadership characteristics or successful programs from other ministry settings is ultimately doomed to fail. I love the pioneering aspect of ministry. The uniqueness of ministry is that every minister is a pioneer. We have never been in this place at this time with this situation before. Is there a word from God? How shall we respond? What shall we do? Where shall we go? Ministers and church leaders must honor this unique dynamic of ministry.

If leaders ought to be interested in lasting value, ministers and church leaders cannot ignore the ministry principles that focus on value more than results. May God help us develop values-focused churches that know what they are about and are led to go there.

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Last updated October 20, 2003.