Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Philsophy of Ministry

Last week a group of KNU theology students interviewed me for a class project. One of their questions asked me to define my Philosophy of Ministry. I thought I'd share that here.

My philosophy of ministry has three core points.

1) Humility: One of my friends from seminary often says, “There is no holiness without humility.” At first I didn't really understand what he meant, but now it seems like one of the most important truths of Christianity. Humility is foundational to living like Jesus and, therefore, to being a minister. For me, humility means at least three things:

a) I can't actually lead our church. I can only help us be led by the Holy Spirit.

b) I must acknowledge my own brokenness, weakness, and sinfulness.

c) We are all equals. I must really believe in “the priesthood of all believers” (1 Peter 2:5,9). My job is not to do the work of the church; my job is to help the people do the work of the church (Ephesians 4:11-12).

2) Honesty: The favorite saying of some of my mentors is: “We cannot change or heal what we do not acknowledge.” Honesty is the first step for healing and change. As a pastor, one of my fundamental responsibilities is to speak honestly. For example:

a) Conflict must be addressed directly and personally and with humility (Matthew 5:23-24, 7:3-5, 18:15-17). Unresolved conflict is like a cancer in the church.

b) Difficulties of life and faith and church should be faced openly and honestly. It doesn't help anyone to pretend that Christianity is easy to practice or simple to believe. Life and faith are full of complexity and unresolved questions. The church is full of weakness as well as strength. Part of my job as a pastor is to speak openly and honestly about all of life – good and bad.

c) We must honestly face change the present and the future. We cannot hide in the past to make the present more comfortable. Our world is changing more quickly than ever, but the Church continues to change slowly. Part of my job as a pastor is to help us to see the changes that are happening around us and to help us make faithful changes as well.

3) Hospitality is a basic part of Christianity. Jesus and the disciples ate together and spent time in each others' homes. The also welcomed the outsiders (open sinners, the poor, the handicapped) into their table fellowship. One of the fundamental roles of the church is to open our hearts, our homes, and our churches to people who feel excluded. As a pastor, I must lead in hospitality by making our church more welcoming to nonChristians and by welcoming many different people into my home and heart.

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