Getting Everyone on the Same Page in Ministry

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In churches and ministries it’s important for leaders, teachers, and other workers to be on the same page in ministry in terms of basic doctrine but also the Church’s purpose, design, and mission. When they are not, confusion and conflict can easily creep in and sometimes even destroy the work.

Getting Everyone on the Same Page in Ministry in Regard to the Essentials

We must distinguish between essentials (i.e., basic doctrine, God’s purposes, design, and mission for the Church as found in the Word) and non-essentials (methods, forms, structures, means). Then we must determine which is causing the problem.

If a non-essential, perhaps we need to extend a little grace to one another. It may not be our preference or style, but it isn’t worth destroying the work of God for a non-essential (Rom. 14:12-20).

If we differ on something essential, then we have a problem that we must work through. Together we must bring the issue before God in prayer. We must learn what He says about it from His Word. Fighting for our own preferences or opinions, rather than seeking to align with God and His Word, inevitably will lead to greater conflict and consternation.

We need to lean on the Spirit for discernment (1 Cor. 2:9-16) so we see the real issue. If we don’t, we probably won’t work through our differences. Then we won’t understand why something that seems like a non-essential causes so much trouble.

Teachers have complained and quit over not having freedom to do their own thing when the real issue was not wanting to support the church’s doctrinal position or perhaps they weren’t clear on the purpose for which they were teaching.

Churches have split seemingly because of building issues or methodology when the real issue was philosophy of ministry based on differing views of the how the Church is to function.

In-fighting has ensued in board meetings over continuance or discontinuance of programs, allocation of funds, etc. when the real issue was that they didn’t have the same view of the church’s overall purpose and mission.

A Plan to Get People on God’s Page

If you’re a leader, work toward building a culture more concerned with doing ministry God’s way rather than having everybody do what’s right in their own eyes. Part of that will involve Bible teaching but also being an example of someone who continually seeks to align with the character and ways of God. Obviously that will require making sure you are on page with God’s overall purposes, design, and mission as found in His Word. And, it will undoubtedly require putting safeguards in place to keep yourself and the church or ministry on track.

When recruiting people for ministry, communicate this intent and train them on what it means to align with God’s purposes, design, and mission in their respective ministries. Here are some resources from Ministry Tools Resource Center that could give you a start in your training.

Getting Leaders on the Same Page with Steering the Church Leadership Guides

The Steering the Church Leadership Guides can be used for you own personal alignment or with your leadership team to work through biblical teaching about God’s purposes, design, and mission for the Church. The objective is to use God as our point of reference, our north star, not merely what we think should be happening or what other churches might be doing.

Christian Education Leadership Training to Get Everyone on the Same PageThe Christian Education Leadership Team Training Session can help the Christian Education ministry of your church get on the same page in regard to its overall goal — that of seeing changed lives — and to understand what it will take to progressively move forward toward that goal. The session can be used with leadership who in turn can then train teachers in their sphere of influence using the Teaching for Changed Lives Workbook.

A one-time training event won’t be enough to build this kind of culture. Since we humans tend to be forgetful, we need continued reminders. And, we must keep open channels of communication with one another to prayerfully discuss issues in ways that keep bringing us back to God as the One with whom we must align.

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Let’s Get Honest About Serving

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Sometimes people eagerly agree to serve in a church or ministry with hopes of making a difference only to have their expectations and dreams of what it would be like dashed. Sometimes leaders, desperate to recruit workers, paint such a rosy picture that when something goes wrong, people feel disappointed and disillusioned with ministry. Sometimes seminaries and other training venues provide help with essential skills but fail to mention how, in real life, it’s not always as easy as steps 1,2,3. Inadvertently, we’re just not always being honest about serving.

If We’re Being Honest About Serving We Must Admit Certain Realities

Serving will not always go smoothly. People scheduled to help cancel at last minute. Costs for proceeding with what we’d like to do skyrocket above the budget. Equipment breaks. Not enough people show up to proceed with a planned activity. More people than we were prepared for attend. Distractions or disruptions happen.

Serving will often take more time than we realize. We may struggle to adequately prepare. The needs of those we serve may be greater than anticipated. If we aren’t careful, it can put a drain on family life or lead to personal burnout.

Disagreements and conflict happen. We may find ourselves faced with philosophical differences, theological disputes, or personality clashes. Not everyone we serve with will act and respond in a godly manner.

We will not always be treated fairly or appreciated for what we do. Deference may be given to individuals older or younger than us, of a certain gender or marital status, or in certain positions. Perhaps no one thanks us or even acknowledges all we do.

Results and the reward of serving won’t always be apparent. Not everyone will accept the truth. People won’t always change. We won’t always sense an immediate gratification. We may feel like we’re always giving but never receiving.

It’s the Other Realities that Make Ministry Worthwhile

Face it. We live in a fallen world that affects our own attitudes and responses, that of leaders and fellow ministry workers, as well those we serve (Rom. 7:14-25; Gal. 5:13-17). We have an enemy, the devil, out to discourage and defeat, “looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Jesus Himself admits that we will have trouble in this world (Jn. 16:33).

BUT, we have on our side One who has overcome the world (Jn. 16:33). He went before us and understands the problems we face, having endured so much worse yet persevered (Heb. 12:1-2). Fruitful ministry is not up to us but the Lord (Jn. 15:5).

If Honest About Serving, It May be Difficult but Not in Vain
Though ministry isn’t always easy, we can keep our “spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11) when we “labor in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58) through whom we “can do all things” (Phil. 4:13).

In Him, through the strength He provides, ministry is worthwhile. It will not be in vain. In Him, we find the needed peace, perspective, and perseverance that enables us to rise above the negative realities in serving. Abide in Him if you want fruitful ministry (Jn. 15:5).

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9)

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Rendering about God’s Enduring Love

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God's Enduring LoveTwenty-six times in twenty-six verses, Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “His love endures forever.” I trust after reading the previous posts about this psalm that you have taken time to reflect on God’s enduring love and responded to His good, kind, faithful, merciful and gracious love with thanksgiving and praise.

Now let’s personalize it keeping the ministry in which you are involved in mind.

Read through Psalm 136 and you will notice that the psalmist kept it about God, beginning every verse with what God did. Look at your ministry from that perspective and you will be able to join the refrain — His love endures forever.

Here’s a ministry worker’s rendition, not near as poetic as the psalm and containing only ten of the refrains (His love endures forever), but you will get the idea:

Give thanks to the Lord of the harvest.
His love endures forever.

Whose wisdom provides a design for staffing to accomplish His purposes.
His love endures forever.

Whose guiding hand maps out the way to best meet the needs of people entrusted to our care.
His love endures forever.

And who humbles my soul so I feel free to delegate responsibilities to others.
His love endures forever.

To Him who helps me adapt when things aren’t going as planned.
His love endures forever.

Who gives grace to deal with petty issues.
His love endures forever.

To Him who answers prayers, often in powerful ways.
His love endures forever.

Whose Truth parts the waters in our hearts, drawing people into a relationship with Himself.
His love endures forever.

And who comforts our soul so we can encourage others.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of hope and peace regardless of whatever comes our way.
His love endures forever.

Think through the specifics of what God is doing in your ministry and remember the role of His enduring love.

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Realistic Expectations in Ministry

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We tend to go into ministry with expectations but are they realistic expectations? Jesus sought to help His disciples gain the right perspective. He told them of pending trouble as they served Him and then said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Ministry will not be problem-free. If we set our expectations too high, expecting that everything will run smoothly and that everyone will accept and agree with us, then we are in for some surprises that might disillusion or discourage us, even cause us to quit.

Ministry will not be filled with nothing but insurmountable problems. Going into ministry with too low of expectations can lead to half-hearted efforts.

Ministry will have both ups and downs but we can make it through and even thrive regardless of the circumstances. Such realistic expectations are based on two words Jesus spoke in John 16:33 — “in me” — because He is the Overcomer!

Why Maintaining Realistic Expectations is Important:

  • Realistic expectations are essential to our peace.
  • Realistic expectations are essential to wading through troubles that can come in ministry.
  • Realistic expectations have effects on our level of commitment
  • Realistic expectations have effects on how we view and treat those we serve.

If we maintain realistic expectations, we will be able to diligently serve even with joy in our hearts regardless of the circumstances.

Realistic Expectations are Not an Excuse for Lack of Faith:

Jesus is the one who suggested that we have realistic expectations when He said, “In this world you will have trouble.”  We cannot, however, stop there because Jesus continued, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” With God all things are possible.

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Who Gets the Focus of Attention in Your Ministry?

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Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.
Click to enlarge image in Pinterest & repin.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

John the Baptist was able to say those words because he knew that he wasn’t to be the focus of attention. His objective was to point people to Jesus.

Think about your ministry. Who gets the focus of attention? Look at how John the Baptist put the attention on Jesus and then ask if you are doing the same.

From John the Baptist we learn that the focus of attention in ministry tends to go to:

whose AGENDA you promote (Mk. 1:4-5; Jn. 1:35-37)

the one seen as the AUTHORITY (Mk. 1:7)

the one who gets the ACCLAMATION (Mk. 1:6-7a)

the one credited for ACCOMPLISHMENTS (Mk. 1:8)

Who gets the focus of attention in your ministry? He (Jesus) will increase and you will decrease as you align with His agenda, look to Him as the authority, and give all the acclamation to Him as you credit Him for what is accomplished.

Get more input on each of the above points in the Ministry God’s Way Discipleship Tool. In addition to Ministry Focus, this resource looks at eight different key elements in doing ministry God’s way.

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Why Singles Should Serve in Ministry

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Occasionally I like to look through the statistics for the web site at the keywords people use to find the site. Sometimes those keywords spark something within me, giving me a topic I feel could be further developed on the site like this one — “why singles should serve in ministry.” Following are three good reasons I believe singles should serve in ministry.

Look at the key passages on spiritual gifts and you do not find where they are distributed or to be used based on marital status, gender, or age. When, therefore, God says in 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” … that includes singles. Also see Romans 12:6-8 which basically states that whatever our gift is, we should use it.

Why should singles serve in ministry?Because God has gifted them to serve and He holds everyone accountable for what they have been given.

No one knows how long they will have on this earth. Shouldn’t we use whatever time we have, in whatever state we are in, to its fullest potential (Eph. 5:15-17). Certainly that must include serving. To not serve as singles would be to waste a significant portion of our lives. Serving one another is part of fulfilling the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:13-14; 6:2).

Why should singles serve in ministry?Because time is short and God wants our lives to count at all times.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul addressed the issue of being single and wished more people were in that state. Why? It wasn’t because marriage is awful. In verse 28 he said, “But if you do marry, you have not sinned.” Paul was all about serving and he understood that with marriage comes many distractions in life. Being single provides a much greater potential for “undivided devotion to the Lord” (v. 35). Of course, singles must have this perspective for that to become a reality.

Why should singles serve in ministry?Because singleness is a potentially optimal time to serve.

When you consider the above three reasons why singles should serve in ministry, my question becomes “Why should they not serve in ministry?”

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