As I have been in the transition period from seminary life to full-time ministry, I have recently been asked to share my philosophy of ministry. I have thought through some of my core values and offer them for your consideration. Feel free to offer your comments or critique.
Among my ministry core values are the following:
Kingdom Focused Ministry – My focus must go beyond my own personal success or the success of my church, but the advance of God’s kingdom. If not, I run the danger of being self-centered, self-seeking, and self-glorifying. God wants churches to grow, but as part of the bigger grander vision of expanding his great kingdom. For this reason I will lead a church in being “kingdom-focused” and in having an “Acts 1:8” mentality—reaching the local community and partnering with others to take the gospel around the world. I will lead in partnering with Southern Baptists and other Great Commission Christians in reaching my community and the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will actively support and promote the Cooperative Program and Southern Baptist partnership on the association, state, and national level. I will also lead in appropriate partnerships with both Baptist and non-Baptist evangelicals.
Relational Ministry – I place a high priority on relationships over programs and events. Evangelism, discipleship, ministry, and other aspects of church life all happen best in the context of relationships. Busyness in church life can often be detrimental to the health of a church. Being precedes doing. I will lead in developing certain programs and events and an aggressive pursuit of the Great commission, but will focus on those that build relationships in evangelizing non-believers and foster the “one another” aspect of being the body of Christ. Moreover, I will seek to equip believers in being a lighthouse to their family and neighborhood and to use their gifts and resources in service for his kingdom.
Biblically Based Ministry – The Bible is our authority as Christians. It contains “everything we need for life and godliness.” If the Bible is indeed our textbook, we must make every effort to conform our thoughts and practice to Scripture. All that I teach and preach will have its basis in Scripture. Most of my preaching is expository although I will preach topical sermons when appropriate. Ministries, strategy planning, counseling, and all other aspects of ministry will be biblically grounded and biblically measured. I affirm the doctrine of inerrancy as expressed in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.
Great Commission Ministry – The mission of the church is the Great commission. To fulfill that commission means that we focus on making disciples. This begins with evangelism, and moves to discipling and equipping believers for service. Evangelism must be an urgent priority. We must implement innovative and “contextual” strategies to reach people where they are. Our job is not done, however, until we develop fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ, growing in his likeness, using their gifts in the body of Christ, and reaching others with the gospel. I will lead a church to be fervent in evangelism, but also in discipling and equipping ministries.
God-empowered Ministry – The Bible teaches that it is the Holy Spirit which empowers our mission. Ultimately, it is God and not human effort which determines the success of mission – our attitude and action must reflect that. This emphasizes the need for absolute dependence on God, a vibrant faith, and a devotion to prayer. I am an avid supporter of church growth principles and effective strategizing. However, if we depend only on our knowledge and effort and not on the power of God, we will have not only an unfruitful ministry, but an ungodly one. Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).