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Ministry Philosophy and Reflections
by Robert J. Young

Contents: Philosophy of Ministry | Ministry Reflections

Philosophy of Ministry
[Since teaching is a ministry for God, I include here a statement of my philosophy of ministry. This statement applies to the ministry of training young men and young women to listen to God and to find the unique opportunities to which God is calling them for service in the kingdom as well as to the task of ministry in the local church setting.]

Genuine ministry for God does not depend upon outward appearance nor external circumstances. This truth is seldom understood in contemporary society. If ministry is not to be measured by worldly standards of success, how shall ministers (or churches or colleges) be evaluated? Ministry which accomplishes its task-formation through information, reformation, and transformation--is fraught with frailty, frustration, and even failure. Fortunately, the power for ministry is divine and not human.

The ministry of teaching must be elastic, flexible, credible. No task is as easy to fake as spiritual ministry. Integrity and authenticity are essential. At best, the teacher does more than communicate facts--the effective teacher brings the biblical message to bear upon the struggles of life. The attitude and atmosphere of the church in our nation is largely dependent upon the message, the men, and the methods reflected in our pulpits and classrooms. Thus training each generation afresh in hearing and living the message is essential.

The rapid transitions of contemporary society have blurred definitions of ministry. The task of communicating an eternal message to a temporal society--of building a bridge over which the gospel can travel--demands understanding both worlds. Much ministry today has good intentions, but suffers from an impoverished view of God and lack of understanding how effective ministry is accomplished in an alien world.

Effective ministry, and effective teaching, recognizes the equipping function (Eph. 4:11-13). The most important ministerial task, however, both in churches and in academic settings, is personal spiritual health and growth. Spiritual leaders must be spiritual. Without this focus, spiritual famine will eventually come. Spiritual leaders as examples must demonstrate life in the world without being of the world.

In summary, doors will open when ministers and teachers are credible interpreters of the meaning of God and Christ in their own lives and in the lives of others. There is no greater task nor calling in all the world.

Ministry Reflections

My ministry to this point has been largely devoted to pulpit work with its varied attendant tasks. I have been, am, and likely will always be a preacher--some have said, "a preacher's preacher." My personality and gifts are well-suited to organizational and educational tasks and to involving others in effective ministry. God continues to use the gifts and talents he has given me for ministry in amazing ways. My closest friends, however, affirm that my teaching gift probably surpasses my preaching gift.

Because of my affirmed teaching gift, I, as many, dreamed of teaching in a Christian college. I look back now and know that when the dream was new, I thought I knew much and knew nothing. Over almost three decades of preaching, I learned ministry, often the hard way. In the fall of 1995, my ministry took an abrupt turn as I accepted a job at Ohio Valley College, chairing the Bible Department and teaching a variety of textual, ministry, and biblical language courses. I taught at Ohio Valley College for seven years, always chairing the Bible program and teaching, but also serving as an academic area dean and eventually as executive vice-president for the last three years of my time there. During my tenure at OVC, I experienced a new role as interim minister in two local congregations. I preached at Camden Avenue in Parkersburg, West Virginia for about 3 months while they were between preachers. The interim pulpit work at the Grand Central Church of Christ in Vienna, West Virginia lasted for slightly over three years. In addition, during my time at OVC, I continued to have many opportunities to preach in a variety of settings and congregations. Over seven years, I preached in over 200 congregations. In 2002, I returned to local work at the Main and Oklahoma church of Christ in McAlester, Oklahoma.

A serendipity of my time at OVC was an increasing involvement in missions. I will not detail that involvement here since it is written in other places (see My History in Missions). I will observe that I have been able to expand my awareness of the need of our world for the gospel of Christ while using my teaching gift in missions settings.

In local church ministry, my talents are primarily in three areas in addition to my pulpit ministry. I like to minister in the development of adult educational curricula, in coordination of the ministries of the local church, and in support of the outreach and evangelism efforts. In my last full-time work before beginning the work at Ohio Valley College, we completed a six-year adult curriculum that was developed and begun shortly after I began ministering with that church. Also, at the elders' request, I developed and initiated implementation of a proposal for a sixth through twelfth grade curriculum. During my ministry there, we developed a ministry system especially designed for the church of 200-300. The ministry system was such a success that we hosted a ministry workshop, "Beyond Keeping House," especially aimed at smaller and medium-sized churches. My third area of primary involvement in local work was evangelism. With almost 100 baptisms in 8 years, the church grew from an average attendance of just over 200 to 275.

I believe the churches of Christ have a better opportunity for reaching out with the gospel of Jesus in today's society and around the world than at any time since shortly after World War II. I am aware, however, that in many places we are not willing to make the necessary sacrifices and changes to take the gospel to a world radically different than our own. I am confident that sound methodological approaches can communicate a biblical message without compromising the gospel. Somewhere, somehow, we must communicate that message to our youth--future church members and leaders--so that the church might continue to be a vibrant, vital voice addressing the ills of society and calling all nations to salvation in Christ.

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Last updated May 19, 2006