There is an illustration which might help us describe a shift in church ministry philosophy which brings it into a more biblical, outreach orientation. Most churches operate their planning and budget from year-to-year as if the ministries of the church were visualized in a pie chart. There is only so much budget to go around; therefore each ministry is in competition to in large their slice of the pie. It’s a zero-sum game. There are losers and there are winners. There is no thought of resources beyond the capacity of the congregation. A growth year plan simply takes last year’s budget and increases it by some percentage. A declining year plan tightens the fiscal belt and reduces every ministry’s budget by some percentage. On occasion, the altruistic priority of missions allows for mission support to be sustained for a time even if all the other ministries in the church are reduced by financial realities. This kind of thinking makes great commission ministries a peripheral part of the pie, jostling for position, priorities, and resources.
A different approach, one which we think is more biblical, places the great commission purpose of the church at the center of every ministry of the church.
For example, the nursery ministry goal is not simply to do a good job of babysitting toddlers and infants. Rather, the nursery ministry goal is to enable the families of those toddlers and infants to receive the gospel and be taught the word of God and to be saved. An aggressively great commission centered nursery ministry will intentionally try to meet the parents and engaged them in evangelism with the gospel whether at the church site or in their homes. That kind of nursery ministry uses and leverages their opportunities to be involved in gospel outreach, not to mention exceeding expectations in caring for those toddlers and infants.
The worship team, tech support, and music ministry participants in the church with a great commission centered ministry philosophy makes sure that all of their participants are growing believers, able to share the gospel with their friends and contacts, and having a vision for using their skills and opportunities in worship to direct the whole congregation to do so also. The service providers, suppliers, and support staff consistently hear the gospel and find encouragement in discipleship for their lives through the worship team and all those involved with them.
The youth ministries realize their obligations to clearly proclaim the gospel and invite use to own Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They also intentionally equip their students to competently and aggressively share the gospel among their peers. Youth leaders realize that the students are making life decisions and patterns which will affect the direction and stewardship of their entire lives during these years. Because of their great commission centered ministry philosophy, these leaders want to consciously disciple believing teens and young adults to become active world Christians. Some of these teens may go on to become missionaries with additional encouragement and training.
Small group ministries and Bible studies that have a great commission ministry philosophy at their center our missional and have concrete outreach goals for and through their participants.
Church ministries with a great commission ministry philosophy at their core are not in competition. All of them are striving toward evangelizing and discipling their constituents and their constituents’ communities. There are no winners and losers; all the church ministries are on the same team. Resources are seen, by faith, to be bountifully supplied without limit by God for his purposes and priorities. The goals for each ministry are in alignment with the great commission goals of the church at large. World missions is owned by every ministry because it expresses the corporate involvement of precisely what each ministry is doing locally.
Implementing this shift in local church ministry philosophy will make a difference in the content and curriculum of each ministry. How thoughtful and practical it becomes is dependent on the ability of each ministry leader (and their staff) to understand this vision, articulated, and practice it on a day-to-day, week to week, month-to-month basis. When it happens, it can radically revolutionize the outlook of a church and its ministries. It will certainly make local church missions mobilization easier. Every church ministry leader becomes a local missions mobilizer. The task then of mobilizing the congregation for cross-cultural missions involvement becomes a very natural progression.
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