philosophy of ministry
Ministry can be and is being done in various ways. Each church ministry differs from the next. So which way is right?
How do we go about biblical ministry in such a way that it brings honor to Christ, the Head of the Church, and exemplifies faithfulness to God’s revealed will in Scripture?
The Bible spells out what the minister is to do and how he is to do it. The Bible gives the pattern for the church’s mandates and traditions through divine precept or example.
A High View of Scripture
A high view of Scripture first of all affirms its inspiration. The Bible teaches verbal, plenary (i.e.., every word) inspiration of itself (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21). It has literally been “breathed out” by God, a source outside the human authors, though He moved them along.
A high view of Scripture, second of all, affirms inerrancy; the Bible is free from any errors and is unable to fail (infallible). As God conveyed His truth to divinely chosen instruments, He made sure that what they wrote was a faithful transferal of the original formulation of truth as it existed in the mind of God (Ps. 19). Since the Bible’s source is God, its truthfulness, accuracy, and inerrancy are anchored in the character of God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2).
Furthermore, a high view of Scripture affirms its authority. In order to have a biblical ministry, man must obey what the Bible says (Ps. 119). God said it…that settles it. It is absolutely binding on man if he desires to honor Christ. The Christian makes obedience to the Word an obsession, not an option.
A high view of Scripture also includes an affirmation of its sufficiency (2 Pet. 1:3-4; Ps. 19; 2 Tim. 3:17; Heb. 4:12). A true belief in the sufficiency of Scripture prohibits any attempt to mingle it with psychology or worldly philosophy. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 1, as well as James in his fourth chapter, that man is to choose God’s wisdom rather than man’s.
Finally, a high view of Scripture is one that believes it to be relevant and applicable for every situation of life (Ps. 19; 2 Tim. 3:17; Ps. 119:105; Is. 40:8). Man is to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4).
A High View of god
A high view of God leads man to glorify Him for His absolute holiness, righteousness, justice, etc. God demands to be worshipped through man’s lips and life as he testifies of God’s attributes by demonstrating those qualities in his own life. A high view of God also leads to a God-centered ministry as opposed to a man-centered ministry. A God-centered ministry is one that concerns itself with only pleasing Him. This kind of ministry exalts God for His goodness rather than reducing Him to man’s terms in idolatry (Rom. 1:21 ff.). Man-centered ministry, however, is more concerned with the fear of man and with meeting man’s felt needs rather than fearing God in amazement at His utter holiness (Is. 6; Heb. 12:28-29).
An accurate view of man
When man considers God enthroned above, high and lifted up in all of His glorious splendor, man sees himself woefully undone as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6.
First of all, man is totally depraved, not simply deprived. Some would believe that man has been deprived of the optimum environment to fan the flame of his own innate goodness. This “goodness of man” theology craves self-significance and selfish vainglory. On his own, man cannot do good or seek after God (Rom. 3:10-18). Man’s heart is deceitfully wicked (Jer. 17:9-10). His goal in life is selfishness and only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).
Second, man was created for the sole purpose of glorifying God, but because of sin, he seeks to glorify himself (Rom. 3:23). He is constantly interested in enthroning self, rather than God. The sinner is alienated from God, and as a result, he will seek fulfillment from the world’s evil system (1 Jn. 2:15-17).
An accurate view of the church
Godly, qualified leadership is essential to every biblical ministry. The concept for biblical leadership is emphasized throughout both the Old and New Testaments. When Moses was overwhelmed with the responsibility for leading Israel, his father-in-law offered great wisdom as he urged Moses to choose leaders to assist him (Ex. 18:13-27).
The New Testament continues with this concept as Paul commands Titus to “appoint elders in every city” (Titus 1:5). Paul himself appointed elders in each city on his missionary journeys (Acts 14:23). The elders were responsible for the church’s monetary receipts (Acts 11:29-30). They also were chosen by the Holy Spirit to oversee and shepherd God’s flock (Acts 20:28), protecting it from false teachers (Acts 28:29-30). God’s plan is to have a plurality of godly men lead and protect each local assembly of believers. The writer of Hebrews instructs us about the congregation’s obedience to their leaders (Heb. 13:17). This plurality of godly men is not to lord authority over the flock but to serve them and be an example (1 Pet. 5:2-3). Their only authority, at best, is a derived authority, as God speaks to His Church through His Word and as it is taught and applied. To be examples to the flock, leaders must reflect the character of Christ and fulfill the qualifications set forth in Scripture (1 Thess. 2:4-12; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5; Ps. 15).
Leaders also must be faithful to equip their people to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12). From the moment a person embraces Christ as Savior, leaders who serve in the church should help him determine his Spirit-giftedness and help him get involved in utilizing that gift for the benefit of the Body of Christ (Heb. 10:24-25).
Some helpful resources to enhance a biblical view toward ministry are:
John MacArthur, Jr., Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995).
John MacArthur, The Master’s Plan for the Church (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008).
George Zemek, Doing God’s Business God’s Way, A Biblical Theology of Ministry (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004).