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Concepts of Ministry

The best way to find out how to have a spiritually healthy and dynamically growing congregation (and what pastor in his right mind doesn't want that?), is to look at the congregations that are dynamically growing, both spiritually and numerically. The next step is to emulate whatever they're doing that is Biblically sound and correct--right? Jesus told Peter in John 21:15-17 "Feed my lambs...tend my sheep...Feed my sheep." Healthy, well-fed sheep reproduce and produce more sheep. Healthy sheep are sheep that are being properly fed and given water. Christians are the sheep of Jesus. Jesus through this statement to Peter was showing him what His chief concern was. Paul in a similar manner told the Ephesians "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for"--What?--"for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head--Christ--from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." We see by these verses that Paul is stating the main purpose of the ministry--whether apostles, prophets, evangelists or pastor-teachers--is for the express and central purpose of the edification of the body of Christ. Bringing unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God is also a purpose of the ministry, to bring unity to the body. So we see the office of the ministry has been created by Jesus Christ for the edification of the body of Christ. One of the central philosophies of the fellowship that wrote the two accompanying articles is that the ministry is for the express purpose of fulfilling Ephesians 4:11-16 which was just quoted. That is also the central purpose of this web site.

You may notice that many of the studies in this web site--the expository studies of Paul's letters, and an expository study on the Book of Mark--are studies based on expository sermons given by one of the fastest growing Christian revivals of this century (or they are actual transcripts, used by permission). These expository sermons go forward, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, through whatever book of the Bible that is being taught from. This particular Christian revival, as I stated, is one of the fastest growing Christian revivals going right now, and they have accomplished this growth by the simple Biblical formula of "feeding" their sheep by this methodical process of giving expository sermons--no gimmicks, no come-ons. One more important point about their method of giving expository sermons is that they will start an expository study, say, on the book of Mark. They will continue on that study, covering maybe a chapter a week, until the series of sermons on Mark is finished. This adds an essential continuity to their preaching. I call this the connective expository sermon. This form of teaching is a key component of their philosophy of ministry, a key component which helped propel their spiritual and numeric growth often to the 1000 percent level. So be sure to read the other two articles that make up this section called Powerful Concepts of Ministry. One is titled Philosophy of Ministry and the other Principles of Ministry. These concepts are all things this Christian revival has learned over the past thirty years under the able leadership of their senior pastor. So if you're a struggling pastor, contemplating throwing in the towel, the two accompanying articles are especially for you--and your congregation. Applying them to your ministry will enliven your congregation beyond your wildest dreams. Jesus placed you over the sheep in your congregation. You are responsible for their welfare and growth, even though they are Jesus' sheep in the final analysis. The accompanying concepts will help you effectively feed those precious sheep. They will help you bring about the unity and maturity within your congregation that Paul talked about in Ephesians 4:11-16. So click on Philosophy of Ministry. Read it through. Then click on Principles of Ministry. I guarantee that when you apply these concepts to your congregation, you will not be disappointed with the result. These are, by the way, Biblical concepts. They are not some fancy quick-fix gimmicks. They are solid Biblical principles and philosophies of ministering to the flock of Jesus Christ, principles you'll learn to shape your ministry around for the rest of your career as a pastor.

Another important concept is that you and your healthy sheep have to have a heart to reach the lost, the unsaved. This website has a whole section devoted to that vital subject titled "What is Evangelism?". So once you learn how to effectively feed and water your sheep, evangelism will help you bring in new sheep for Jesus. A friend of mine in commenting about how one church he knew of was aimed at only attracting the spiritually healthy, and young married couples, had this to say, "I am convinced that this approach to evangelism will virtually ensure two things--their church will not grow quickly and that if it does, it will comprise only respectable married families. That is hardly the approach we want to follow. Chuck Smith really impressed me when he described how he and his wife would sit on the beach and watch the hippies pass by. They were filled with compassion for these "freaky" kids who were wrecking their lives with drugs and trying all kinds of things to fill their emptiness. It is hardly the respectable folk--especially the high and mighty--who acknowledge their need for Christ. Some people are too impressed with big cathedrals, lovely architecture, and the culture of the well-bred. This makes it hard for them to roll up their sleeves to get the work of evangelism done. They have become set in their ways. You are right about this congregation we're talking about with the big beautiful building, their model of ministry is hardly the example we want to follow. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if traditional church buildings will ever again draw most young people into their midst. Perhaps our whole physical location needs to be rethought. Could you imagine the pastor in this particular building saying--as one pastor did in a Calvary Chapel--tear up the carpet if that is causing a problem for the trampling feet of the hippie "types" who are in our midst?" I think you can see my friend's point. Ministry must be relevant to those you are reaching out to for the Lord to save. And who are those the Lord wants to save? Matthew 9:10-13, "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?' On hearing this , Jesus said, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous , but sinners.'"

My friend (a divinity student at a major prestigious university) also had this to say about the connective expository sermon format. "I am in agreement with you about the need for connective expository sermons (though I think we should be flexible so that on special occasions we can speak on a topic for that day or season). There is no better way for people to get a better appreciation for the Holy Scriptures' meaning than through connective expository sermons. But those who give them must stick with them and be consistent. This approach is far more preferable and beneficial than merely subscribing to some ancient creed or confession and rigidly adhering to its strictures. We must be free to re-engage the Scriptures in their original context, but also willing to bring them to life for our time..." And his recommendation for those wishing to try this format: "Here are some suggestions: start with the gospel of Matthew and when finished, take on the other Gospels--contrasting and comparing their distinctive contributions. " And then..."start with the NT letter that is the earliest written (1 Thessalonians--around AD 50 or 51). Then from there go through each of Paul's letters based on their age. That way we can see the development of Paul's thought. We could also view Paul as a living example of 2 Peter 3:18 (growing in grace and knowledge). His progression in understanding (at one point thinking that Christ would return in his lifetime) should especially inspire WCG. We should also study Acts and cull the many principles from it so that we can practice them now (of course we have to be discerning as to what applies directly to us and how we see those parts that speak to our situation). In the process, anyone following this connective expository format will be giving their members somewhat of a seminary education, a tour and deeper understanding of the ancient world, and inspiration from the Word of God (which transforms lives and motivates us to be better Christians). These are the benefits. I recommend the following approach: 1) study the original context (recipients, purpose of letter, author and his life story, surroundings, and reason for the letter or book); 2) meaning and theology of text on its own terms; 3) contemporary application (that is, how does it apply to our present situation?). That would mean we would have to cover a certain portion of a letter in any one sermon (say Romans 1:1-15), give a sense of its meaning to its original hearers (for example, Paul dealing with Jesus' role in God's plan and his desire to share spiritual gifts with the brothers and sisters in Rome--and the Gentile-Jewish issue), and think hard about how this might apply to us in the light of Romans and the rest of Scripture...This method should also help members think about effective ways of interpreting the Bible when they are in the privacy of their homes. This would have the benefit of giving people the discernment to avoid esoteric or tangential issues. In any case, these are just some suggestions that I think would be helpful in sorting out what we could do to improve our preaching."

To learn more of this model of ministry be sure to log onto the other two articles in this section, "Philosophy of Ministry" and "Principles of Ministry".

Another vital concept of ministry, one of the most vital, is to not leave God out of the picture. To maintain a growing and vital ministry and church it is essential to promote member participation in corporate prayer as well as educating your members in the biblical essentials of private prayer. This website has a whole section devoted to prayer, corporate and private. This is one of the most vital concepts of ministry there is, because worship is all about our personal and corporate contact with the Lord, with God the Father in Spirit led and filled prayer. Be sure to log onto the section "What is Prayer?" and apply those vital concepts, teach those vital concepts to your congregation. Read about the miracle of the Brooklyn Tabernacle and how prayer, corporate and private, transformed this tiny dying congregation into a vital congregation of over 4,000 people in the heart of Brooklyn, New York.

So to recap, what are the vital concepts of ministry we must apply to our congregations to foster growth?

  1. Make the pastures within the congregation green and lush so your members become spiritually healthy and nourished, and thus removing all desire they may have to move to greener pastures. (Read the other two articles in this section.)
  2. Make sure you make prayer, private and corporate, a vital part of your congregation. Educate them about prayer. (See section "What is Prayer?")
  3. Evangelize to those in your local community who aren't born-again. The two vital parts of evangelism, two legs it walks forward on are:
    a. Evangelize verbally and in print with the Word of God
    b. Evangelize through your Good Works of service to the needy and hurting, the lost, in your community. Without putting your actions and money were your mouth is, God's Word will be hollow to them because they won't see you living it through servant ministry.

(See section "What is Evangelism?")

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