Ministry Methodology: Problems

Ministry Methodology a Problem When God & His Word Relied UponWho God is and what He says in His Word remain true and dependable throughout the ages. We would like to think we would never compromise the unchanging message but ever so subtly, if we aren’t careful, we might start doing that which shifts our focus and priorities off of God and His Word and onto our methodology.

When Our Methodology Becomes a Problem

If we start relying on methodology more than on God, our means for doing ministry is already compromised and it’s only a matter of time until the message isn’t as important.

Solution to this Problem: Bring every aspect of what we do before the Lord in prayer. — “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Prov. 16:3) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Prov. 3:5-6)

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If we use methodology to impress people about how wonderful we are rather than point them to the Lord, our motivation for ministry is already compromised and soon the message will be lost as well.

Solution to this Problem: We need to work purposefully and diligently to keep God as the focal point in every aspect of what we do. — “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim. 4:16) “… in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10)

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How Ministry Methodology Problems Subtly Begin

These problems can come on subtly. We might start out well, using the right means and with the right motivation, but over time lose perspective about our methodology versus the message. We begin to simply “do” without first praying and seeking God’s direction. Soon, we no longer think about whether or not we’re doing it in Jesus’ name, to the glory of God, as accountable first and foremost to Him. We and our methodology take center stage, superseding the message. Focus no longer gets put on God but on what we do. And, sadly, we think we’re doing well.

Let’s guard our hearts and minds so we never let the methods we use overtake the message, or should we say the Person, we proclaim.

Ministry Methodology: Principles

Ministry Methodology Changes but Not God & His Word

Churches and ministries must distinguish between the message and methodology — between the non-negotiables and the negotiables. God, as seen in His Word, never changes (Ps. 90:2; Isa. 40:8; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).

How we present the message can, and should, change as needed (1 Cor. 9:19-22). We can take creative liberties in the presentation of the message but we must never alter the message itself. We become relevant through methodology, not compromising the message. There’s a difference between being responsive to a changing world and redefining truth.

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Principles to Follow in Our Ministry Methodology

While we could probably list a number of principles to guide us in our choice and use of methods, we will narrow it down to three points that should encompass it all. Notice the phrase “whatever you do” in the Scripture verses used for each principle. Certainly that terminology includes methodology.

  1. Make sure we can say we are doing it in Jesus’ name.  — And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus … (Col. 3:17)

Would Jesus be willing to put His name on what we do? In addition to His stamp of approval, does our methodology reflect Christ-like character and ways?

  1. Make sure we can say what we do is to God’s glory.  —  whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor. 10:31)

That which glorifies God will never violate His character, heart, and ways as depicted in Scripture. When it’s about Him, and what He does, people praise Him, not us. He gets the credit.

  1. Make sure we remember the one to whom we are accountable.  — Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human master (Col. 3:23)

No matter how much people want us to conform in the name of relevancy, we will not if it compromises the message, because we answer to God. He is our boss, not the congregation. We align with Him, the One with full authority, not the world. To cave in and compromise the message, not just change methodology, is to put people above Him.

The next post will look at when our methodology becomes a problem.

Ministry Focus

Ministry Focus on GodThe kind of ministry focus that will truly make a difference is that which centers all attention around God — His character, heart, ways. We can too easily turn the focus onto ourselves — who we are as a Church or ministry (denomination, building, pastoral staff), what we do (programs, worship style, etc.), what we view as important (attendance, style, methodology). When our focus turns to anything other than God, it’s misplaced.

Misplaced Focus Diminishes Ministry Effectiveness

Our focus in ministry matters because

. . . it’s where we point people to.

Our words can be pointing to God, but people tend to look more in the direction we’re looking.

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. . . it’s what we use as a standard.

We can do a lot of good in ministry but still get off track and miss the mark if we aren’t doing what God views as most important. (e.g., 1 Cor. 13:1-3)

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. . . it’s who or what gets the credit.

When the focus is on us and what we do rather than on God and what He does, we fail to give Him the glory.

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Keep Ministry Focus on God Himself — His Character, His Heart, His Word, His Ways

1) Put attention on the God we serve. God’s character defines ministry possibilities, not our strengths and weaknesses.

2) Emphasize the heart of God in ministry. What’s most important to God determines ministry priorities, not what we feel is important.

3) Look to the ways of God for how to do ministry. God’s ways, as seen in Scripture, set the standard for how to do ministry, not tradition or what seems to work.

Ministry Empowerment: God’s Means

Ministry Empowerment - God's Means of Providing PowerWe’ve already established that to do ministry God’s way, we need His power. We need to cease striving to do ministry in our own strength. When we do, we’ll see the power of God unleashed in ways that are “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).

The issue is not “if” we have this power available to us but how to pull on that power. God’s provides a variety of means for ministry empowerment that we can pull on.

God’s Means of Ministry Empowerment

The TrainChurchLeaders.com site has a section devoted to different means through which God provides us, His Church, with power, which will be listed below. To get a better grasp of those means, click on the links to read articles or check helpful books. (Please note that book links may take you to books on one of our affiliate sites which may use cookies to track your activity to ensure that Ministry Tools Resource Center gets commissions from any sales.)

– Gospel Message of the Cross

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes … (Rom. 1:16)

– Grace

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)

– Holy Spirit

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses … (Acts 1:8)

– His Name

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. (Jn. 17:11)

– Prayer

… The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

– Resurrection

I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection … (Phil. 3:10)

– Scripture

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

– Spiritual Gifts

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. … (1 Pet. 4:10-11)

– Spiritual Weaponry

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. (2 Cor. 10:4)

Ministry Empowerment: Divine Power

If we’re going to do ministry effectively, we need to do it God’s way and we need His empowerment, using His wisdom, grace, and power.

Ministry Empowerment - Cease Striving for Divine PowerWe need to cease striving on our own and know that He is God (Ps. 46:10). Jesus clearly stated that apart from Him, we can do nothing of eternal value (Jn. 15:5). When we rely on Him, nothing is impossible (Matt. 17:20; Phil. 4:13). His divine power gives us everything we need (2 Pet. 1:3).

Why Ministry Empowerment Needs to Come from God’s Divine Power

When we try to do ministry through our own strength and power, we’re lacking what we need to effectively do ministry and make an eternal difference. Spiritual fruit requires spiritual power. Trying to do ministry through our own wisdom, strength, and power will not yield the best results. Here’s why:

  1. We’re finite, meaning we’re limited in what we can understand and do. To accomplish that which counts for eternity, we need wisdom and power outside of ourselves, that which is higher and greater than ourselves — divine power.

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  1. We’re fearful, lacking the confidence needed to persevere spiritual battles and challenges that can come in ministry. To keep going, we need to get beyond our own insecurities by putting our confidence in Someone stronger than ourselves and greater that all spiritual forces.

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  1. We tend to flounder, not knowing what direction to take. To consistently maintain proper priorities and not get sidetracked in ministry, we need help from Someone capable of seeing the big picture.

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  1. We fall short, never able to perfectly meet the standards of a Holy God, even when we give our best. To truly make a difference, despite our weaknesses, we need His grace to bridge the gap, to do what we cannot do.

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For more about God’s power in ministry, click on the related posts below.

Ministry Effectiveness

Sometimes we think we’re effective when we’re not in God’s eyes. And, sometimes we conclude that not much is happening but God is quite pleased and working in ways we don’t see. We finite humans tend to be narrow in the scope of how we define effectiveness.

How We View Ministry Effectiveness Versus How God Defines It

We tend to look only at the results. And, by results, we often mean what is happening outwardly, what can be seen and measured.
Ministry Effectiveness - Process vs Results

God, however, while caring about the results, puts more emphasis on the process. And, by process, He means what’s happening inwardly as well as the outward methodology or steps taken. (See 1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17 for how process matters. See 1 Sam. 16:7, 1 Chron. 29:17, 1 Thess. 2:4b for the importance of the heart. See Matt. 7:16-20; Jn. 15:8; Col. 1:6, 10 for how results – fruit also matter.)

For More, Read the Following:

Problems with Our Human View of Effectiveness

1) When we over-stress outer results, we can too easily justify getting there by any means. Yet, God looks for faithfulness, not just fruitfulness. (Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; Phil. 1:9-11)

For More, Read the Following:

2) Stressing results can give the illusion that we’ve arrived. Yet, God wants us to keep pressing on. (Phil. 3:12-13)

For More, Read the Following:

Blessings of Defining Ministry Effectiveness God’s Way

1) We gain a big picture perspective that leads to greater joy and purpose in serving even when we don’t see results. And so, we’re able to persevere and keep progressing. (Rom. 14:16-20; Heb. 12:2)

For More, Read the Following:

2) We usually end up with both quantifiable results, or fruit, and quality that comes from a process filled with integrity and goodness. And so, God is glorified. (Jn. 15:8; 2 Thess. 1:11-12)

For More, Read the Following:

How to Be Effective as Defined by God

Effectiveness comes as we do ministry God’s way. As we align with Him, we come to more and more see and understand His heart for ministry. And, we also realize that it’s going to take more than us striving to become effective — the topic of the next post.