Ministry Values

I’ve been thinking lately about what it would take to get me back into some kind of full-time ministry. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m considering it. But what would it take? There are parts of full-time ministry that I absolutely love. As I think back through my last ministry appointment, and some of the people I worked with there, there were definite blessings. And some of those blessings ran both ways. Yet there were heartaches and pain as well.

Some well-meaning friends would tell me that it’s always like that. “You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” or “Into every life a little rain must fall,” or some other blather. But my struggles ran deeper than simply a bad day or awkward situation. And I don’t want to repeat those parts . . . ever.

So, I’ve been thinking (and a few other people I trust have been saying) that it’s really about fit. I need to find a ministry setting that “fits” me. But what does this mean? I was talking to the Lord this morning about all this, and I think what’s most pertinent here is that I find a ministry setting in which the people with whom I work share my ministry values. So . . . what are my ministry values? The following, in no particular order, are a few things that come immediately to mind, all of which are driven by the presupposition that God is an active participant in all ministry endeavors, and that Jesus is the active, functioning, and directing Head of his church.

1) All ministry is relational. Thus, the one(s) with the most ministry responsibility toward a given individual are those with the strongest relational ties to that individual.

2) The need does not constitute the call. Thus, ministry is first and foremost about following God and responding to the people he has placed before you. It is not driven by putting out brush fires or doing things merely because it seems they need doing.

3) God works as we live love without agenda. Thus, our goal with people must simply be to love, and to let God do with that what he will.

4) God works most consistently in the context of real life, not in orchestrated and managed events and programs.

5) Mission flows from the disciplines of attentiveness and listening to God.

6) There is no substitute or surrogate for intimacy with God. Ministry flows from one’s sense of identity, which grows out of one’s personal relationship with God. Said another way, intimacy leads to identity leads to ministry.

7) The Lord really will speak to us and guide us if we are quiet enough to listen.

There you have it. I may adapt this or edit it or add to it as I think more deeply about it all, but at present, these are the ministry convictions and values I hold most dear.

Whatcha think?

Shalom

3 thoughts on “Ministry Values

  1. I lead our small group tonight and we were talking about these very things as our theme was intimacy. We talked some about why such a messed up individual as David was considered “a man after God’s own heart”. It is my belief that God simply wants our hearts in the most intimate relationship imaginable. Our ministry (for all Christ followers) must be centered around our love for Him and surrender to His shepherding us. If we could get to this place all the nonsense we get caught up in the name of “doing church” would be able to be set aside and serving in God’s kingdom would be a sheer joy beyond our imaginations. I think you are on to something, my dear friend. I miss seeing your face and sharing our brilliant thoughts.

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  2. Ron, thanks for sharing your thoughts. The difficulty is that I’m not sure it’s possible to really determine “fit” up front. It’s so easy for people to say something (eg. agree with point 4) but then feel conflicted when they experience the application of that thought (eg. we really should have a Gospel Meeting… we’ve had one for 30years straight… it just seems right).

    I’m currently in my third year working with this church, which is my longest tenure to this point. But now the honeymoon’s over, the elders (or at least one) seem to be asserting their authority and working with me less as partners. I prayed over the decision to move here, and believe it can still be a good fit, but the dynamics of the relationships, church growth, and ministry opportunities can change the fit over time.

    I guess someday I’ll look back and know how long I worked with this congregation, how I grew in Christ, how the church grew, how we touched individuals lives, and only then will I know whether the overall experience was a good fit. Because there are moments that feel like we’re all pulling in the same direction and other moments that we’re wondering if we’re on the same planet!

    I sincerely hope that the right doors will open for you in the future to allow you return to full-time ministry. I’m sure that the step of identifying and clarifying your values will really help guide you through the process.

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  3. Ron,
    I was finally able to sort through my inbox, and I had saved this to read when I had time – -and AMEN, Brother, is all I can say! Those are the values I was raised with – -I know that when I share these with my dad, he’ll say, ‘That’s what I’ve said all along!’
    And they are so true.

    As well, our church is believing that it’s clear we are already in the process of the end times, as it’s clear that end time prophesy from scripture is being fulfilled: pains are growing, the earth is aching, families are crumbling, more and more. . .and the idea of ‘ministry’ is changing in that the most effective ones will not be ‘personality’ driven – i.e. focused around one individual, but they will be exactly as you have described: a combined force of individuals with shared values. . .almost like a ‘family’ of ministry.
    Blessings on you. . .
    And, as my dad often says to me and others: ‘Hold on! Keep going!’ 😉
    -Karen, aka ‘Fuller’

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