Philosophy of Ministry: Principles of Discipleship

III. Personal Principles of Discipleship

What principles inform the way you lead people to maturity in Christ?

1. Prayer: the foundation of discipleship is prayer and reliance on the Holy Spirit.  Regular prayer for those you are ministering to is essential for your heart and their growth.

2. Teaching: regular, clear, and passionate teaching of the Word that casts a compelling vision of Christ and the Christian life is vital to forming right theology and living.  Individual sermons or lessons may not be remembered, but the cumulative vision of Christ is carved on the imagination.

3. Multiplication: rather than trying to spend equal time with everyone, spend the majority of time with key people who have bought into the vision of the ministry, who can then spread that vision to others.

4. Sharing of Life: discipleship is not just teaching content but the sharing and impartation of life. It also means modeling and teaching people how to think, not merely telling them what to think.

5. Non-manipulation: manipulation (controlling or influencing the responses of others so as to render then non-genuine) is antithetical to the gospel.  Anything that resembles emotional manipulation must be carefully avoided.

6. Motivation: The motivation for living for Christ is grace (a response of thankfulness because of the gospel) not guilt.  Guilt alone has no value in creating life change.  Rather than making people feel guilty about what they haven’t done, cast a vision of Christ and the privilege of participating in his kingdom.

7. Empowerment: Ministry belongs to all the believers; the role of leaders is to equip others for the work of the ministry.  This means that people need to be empowered and released, not controlled or micro-managed. This also means that people should be given the freedom to fail. The willingness to risk and fail is more important than natural giftedness.

8. Experience: disciples need experiences of the Christian life, not just knowledge about it.  This is why missional practices and daily spiritual disciplines must be taught and modeled. Debriefing, asking “what did we learn?” is critical to concretizing experience.

9. Communication: everything communicates something about your values, from the way your building looks to the amount of time you spend in each sphere of ministry. The responsibility of the leadership is to create structures that embody the values of the ministry that will enable the people to live out those values.

10. Size: the greatest potential for change occurs as the relational scale shrinks (the fewer the number, the deeper you can go.)

11. Encouragement: always believe in, look for and affirm the best in people.  The ratio of encouragement to rebuke should be at least 10 to 1.

Philosophy of Ministry: Portrait of a Disciple

II. Portrait of a Disciple

What kind of character traits do we want to disciples in our ministry to embody? 

1. Holistic Worship: She sees all of life as worship, and thus strives to live all of life to glorify God.  She has an ever-increasing capacity for wonder at who God is and what he has done.

2. Gospel Identity: He understands, embraces and seeks to live in response to the good news of the gospel, allowing worth and performance to flow from his acceptance by God, rather than allowing performance to determine his worth.

3. Daily Discipleship: She seeks to maintain a vibrant relationship with God through spiritual disciplines, seeking to transform her character through interaction with God

4. Emotional Health: He has a healthy self-awareness of his inner life, and allows God to meet and change him there.  This leads him towards greater genuineness and away from inauthenticity and hypocrisy.

5. Holy Curiosity: She has a firm grasp on what she believes and seeks to be a life-long learner and a lover of truth wherever she finds it.

6. Personal Integrity: He proactively seeks to live a life of integrity, honesty and purity: morally, financially, sexually, etc. He strives to live like Christ.

7. Stewardship Mentality: She sees her time, gifts, abilities, relationships, and possessions as God’s good gifts, with which she has been entrusted to use for his glory and others’ joy, not self-advancement.

8. Relationship Centered: He believes that life is about relationships, and makes “loving well” his perpetual goal. He seeks to minister to and build up others through sharing his life; he prays for and encourages others to follow Christ with him.

9. Organic Evangelism: She is overflowing with Christ and naturally shares her faith with others, inviting them into the community of Christ-followers.

10. Holistic Mission: He is deeply committed to global missions and social justice, seeking to minister to the unreached, poor and oppressed both locally and globally. His mindset when encountering the world is not “us versus them” but “us for them”.  He desires to care about what God cares about and takes action to embody God’s kingdom in the midst of brokenness

Philosophy of Ministry: Purpose of the Church

I. The Mission of the Church: Why Does the Church Exist?

The purpose of the church is live as God’s people –

to be a taste of the coming kingdom,

  • by submitting to God as king in all things (worship)
  • by engaging one another in Spirit-filled community (relationship)
  • by embodying the presence of Christ in the world (mission)

Our goal in ministry will be at all times to give people a taste of the kingdom of God and of Christ our King through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We will do this through worship, relationships and mission.  These are not three separate purposes, but one, and they should occur simultaneously.  Robert Webber ties them together well: “The church’s mission is to show the world what it looks like when a community of people live under the reign of God”.  There are three primary components to accomplishing this mission:

1. Casting a vision:

We are convinced with every fiber of our being that if people really see Christ as he is (by the grace of God), they will genuinely want to follow Him.  Rather than focusing on behavior modification (changing what people do), we will endeavor to cast a vision of Christ, removing all the barriers we can, in the hope that they will begin to fall in love with Him.

2. Creating a community:

Our goal is to create a community where it is apparent from the way that we preach, worship, love one another and serve the community that we are citizens of a different kind of kingdom and servants of another king.  Rather than wasting our energy on criticizing other churches or people, we want to “criticize by creating” something that is faithful to Scripture and marked by faith, love and hope. Our desire is to create a deeper hunger and a thirst for Christ and his kingdom in all who experience this community.  The “cultural values” of this community are unpacked in the “portrait of a disciple”.

3. Cultivating Christ-followers:

When people genuinely desire to follow Christ, they will want and need “cultivation”: an organic investment of training, tools, and time, to help them take the next step of faith as they become more like Christ. Christ followers by definition are disciples, servant leaders, missionaries and ministers who live their lives with God (communion) and for God (ministry).  The principles of nurture used here are unpacked in the third section of this document.