A personal philosophy of ministry is shaped primarily by the background, experiences, training and exposures that one has had.
Simply put, it’s a brief description of why you do ministry the way you do it. It’s not what you do in ministry. That’s your vision and purpose. It’s not how you do ministry. That’s your strategy. The philosophy of ministry states the why behind it all. Why do you do what you do? I think that’s a pertinent question for us to ask, no matter what flavor of ministry we may be involved in. Why do we do it? The answer to that question can help you become more effective in your ministry role, as well as more passionate, more organized and more intentional.
Let’s look at each of those four elements.
Like previously mentioned, a personal philosophy of ministry explains why you do ministry the way that you do it. Once you nail those reasons down, your ministry effectiveness will increase exponentially. You will know the reasons why you do things, so you won’t settle for just doing anything. Planning an activity becomes much more focused; you don’t just pick something to fill a time slot. Everything you do has a purpose, as defined by your personal philosophy.
Once you define your personal philosophy of ministry, your passion increases. Because you’ve taken the time to sit down and think through the process of why you do things the way that you do them, you understand them, and yourself, better. Your reasons for doing ministry the way you do are more focused and better understood, thereby increasing your passion.
A personal philosophy of ministry helps you to be better organized. If something doesn’t fit under your reasons for why you do ministry, then you don’t do it. As a result, all of your ministry activities, teaching plans, events, and programs dovetail together nicely. You won’t waste as much time spinning your wheels on less effective tasks. You’ll become more organized.
This is perhaps the most important reason to spend some time defining and refining your personal philosophy of ministry. We’ve discovered that ministry has to be extremely intentional, or it won’t be effective, passionate or organized. You need to understand the why behind everything you do in ministry. For example, We can hear people frequently talking about needing more volunteers in their ministry. As you listen, it becomes clear that they will settle for anyone to fill a spot. But we’ve discovered that being intentional in selecting people is much better in the long run. Filling a volunteer position with someone who is a strong believer, who loves that target population, who is committed to serving in this ministry, who strives to model a godly lifestyle, will be much better in the long run than filling that same position with the first warm body that comes along. You won’t have to come back later and do some damage control, un-teaching and re-teaching your students. Trust me, intentionality is critical.
Philosophy of Ministry Statements
Please write a one to two page narrative that sets forth your foundation and approach to ministry.
- Conversion and Call— Your Christian pilgrimage and how you experienced God’s call to ministry.
- Basic doctrinal statement or statements—Basic theology as you have experienced, learned and worked it out through church involvement, daily discipleship, devotional life and your educational journey.
- Discuss your Leadership Style with attention given to the issues of ministerial authority, autonomy of the local church, priesthood of the believer, and servant leadership.
- Give your views of women in church
The Basic Information Concerning a Philosophy of Ministry
The need for a philosophy of ministry:
- It helps us to answer the “why” question. Why are we doing what we are doing?
- It determines what we do and what we don’t do. Churches can’t and shouldn’t do everything. A Philosophy of Ministry will act as a screen upon which you will base your acceptance of new ministries or elimination of ineffective ones.
- It alleviates false guilt and provides a basis for measuring accomplishments.
- It unifies the members of the church.
- It provides motivation.
- It provides a basis for accountability.
- It gives assurance you are doing God’s work, not busy work.
- It gives the church an overall direction.
- It will give your church its unique personality. It will help you define your style of ministry, which is your distinctive approach to ministry.
- It will aid you as you determine areas of growth.
- This philosophy of ministry will help you more fully reach the unchurched.
In other words, the personal philosophy of ministry for a minister is a key foundation upon which every ministers’ life of the church should be built. Howard Hendricks has said, “More failures in the church come about because of an ambiguity of purpose than for any other reason.”
Where have I been strong? Where have I been weak? Where have I been successful? Where have I failed? Why? What lessons has this taught me about myself and ministry in the future? How will this influence my philosophy of ministry? What is its belief systems, values, cultural groupings and needs? What is my favorite scripture? What is the theme of my life? How can I share why I do what I do in a sentence or two? What would I want said about me and my legacy?
Benner, David G. The Gift of Being Yourself: the sacred call to self-discovery. Downers
Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
. Surrender to Love: discovering the heart of Christian spirituality. Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Crabb, Larry. Safest Place on Earth. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999.
Holy Bible: New International Version. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1988.
Wardle, Terry. Draw Close to the Fire: finding God in the darkness. Leafwood, 2004.