I started thinking lately about what really matters when I am in the middle of doing ministry. After much thought and prayer, I arrived at these essentials…
God’s Word is fully authoritative, practically applicable and completely trustworthy. As we read the Bible, God speaks to us. When truth is lived out, it produces maturity. Any teaching that we are given, any proposed “truth” we receive, must pass through the Bible before it can be relied upon. Because His Word is sufficient, we can know that by it we have everything needed at any given point in our lives. Through truth, we are shaped, taught, trained and encouraged so that we might be used most fully in the hands of a loving God.
Though I must rely upon His Spirit to speak to the hearers, I must actively seek to use environments and methods to best convey the truth faithfully, accurately and passionately. Though the methods of presentation can be adapted to meet the context, culture and current needs, the truth remains unchanged. When I begin to place creativity above faithfulness, I am in danger of making my methods into idols.
Deut. 8:32 • Tim. 3:16-17 • John 17:17 • Rom. 10:17
We are made for relationships. First and foremost, we are created for our primary relationship of knowing God and making Him known. Through Christ’s sacrifice for our sin, the divine design of God can be restored. This connection does not end with God alone, but is to be extended to others. We grow best together. We can only be in right relationship with others when we are in right relationship with God.
Through prayer and time spent with God, my relationship with Christ must be developed and nurtured. I must actively seek deepening relationships with others for mutual growth and encouragement. Through intentional and authentic relationships, we train leaders, mentor other believers and witness to those who do not follow Christ yet. As a pastor, I must present opportunities for those in my care to connect with each other in both large group and small group settings to meet both relational goals: unity with others and unity in Christ.
Rom. 15:5-7 • Mark 12:28-31 • 1 Cor. 12:12-14 • John 17:20-22
God loves us as we are, but loves us too much to leave us as we are. He actively pursues our continued transformation so He might renew the image of Christ in us. He reveals our broken standards, motivations and desires, and He resets our minds, hearts and lives to Himself. Through His Spirit He brings us from spiritual death to eternal life, and through His Spirit He continues to change us. God is more faithful to complete His work in us than we could ever imagine.
As a pastor, my role is to communicate and demonstrate what true transformation looks like. I must show others the process and the proof of a daily connection with God, how to use our giftedness for service to Him and the pursuit of personal holiness while extending grace to others.
Rom. 12:2 • Phil. 1:6 • Eph. 4:22-24 • 2 Cor. 4:7
The Church is God’s only plan for making disciples; there is no plan B. God desires and commands that we make Him known for His glory alone. When we surrender to Him, He begins the process of redeeming His image in us and sends us out with the message of the Gospel to see others redeemed as well. It takes a disciple to make a disciple.
Though programs, classes and studies are valuable tools, I must not make the mistake of reducing discipleship into a curriculum that a person completes, a production-line with identical followers or a series of steps to better, higher and more prestigious thoughts. I must accept discipleship as a process that is ongoing, organic and often messy, yet clearly promote an overall approach that includes three essentials: relationships, the multiplication of disciples and God-empowered transformation.
Matt. 28:18-20 • 1 Peter 3:15 • Matt. 5:13-16 • 1 Cor. 3:5-9
I believe that church should be a place that people look forward to attending all week, go to bed on Saturday night anticipating what Sunday morning holds and where an unchurched stranger can walk in be warmly welcomed, experience community and know that something is different there.
I believe that the Bible must be taught unapologetically, powerfully, accurately and clearly. Again, God does not command me to place the highest priority upon being clever, catchy or creative…He commands me to be faithful first and foremost.
I believe that every member of a family can be involved, supported, loved and equipped for ministry in the world.
I believe that church should be a place where the Holy Spirit is free to move, transform, and bring spiritual wholeness through the Gospel.
I believe that people should come to church and say, “What a great God!” as they see Him, hear Him, know Him and love Him and go out and make Him known to others.
I believe that a church should be used so powerfully by God that its absence would create a gaping hole in the fabric of the culture and cause community distress.