Ministry Values

“I value ministry that is organic.”
The idea of being organic stands in opposition to that which is mechanistic. I value the beauty of that which is alive and growing, rather than that which is dead and produced. Organic ministry has life, and this life cannot be fully measured, but it can always be felt. When wood is found in the form of a tree, it provides shade, it provides scenery, and it provides good smells. A well-built wooden building can also provide each of these things. The difference is, a tree provides these things with life, while a building is always lifeless. Organic ministry is painted by:
Process. A tree does not become full-grown overnight, or even over the course of a year. A tree takes time to grow, and so do people and ministries. I value the grace, truth, and time it takes for people to grow. I value the process as much as the product, and find it pleasing to enter into people’s lives while they are in the midst of the process. Just as beauty is found in each season for the tree, so beauty is found in each stage of a person’s growth. I value the different factors that influence a student’s growth. Just as a tree receives nutrients from a variety of sources (water, sun, soil) so a student needs to be properly nourished in a wholistic way through multiple means.
Simplicity. In comparison to a factory, a garden or greenhouse is rather simple. While some definite care is needed, the vegetation seems to nearly grow on its own. I value ministry that is low on hype and high on Jesus. John the Baptist said, in reference to Jesus, “I must decrease that He may increase.” (Jn. 3:30) I value showing people to Jesus, not to excitement.
Individuality. In a factory, each fallen tree is treated in the same way as it proceeds through the various conveyer belts in the process of becoming a finished product. On a farm, however, each tree is different. Even among trees that come from the same seed, the growth is different. Each tree requires slightly different care because it grows differently. I value ministry that values individual people.
Reproduction. A tree is not mature until it is able to reproduce. Spiritual reproduction is a beautiful thing, and I see beauty in ministry that leads students to be able to spiritually reproduce.

“I value ministry that is relational.”
Relationships are what give flesh and form to ministry. Love cannot be fully captured by a dictionary definition, but can only be truly known in the twinkle of someone’s eye or the smile on someone’s face. Similarly, ministry cannot stay an academic proposition, but finds beauty when it is worked out in the context of relationships. Specifically, I see beauty in two types of relationships:
Vertical. The vertical relationship is the orientation of the painting. Without it, everything else looks – and is – distorted. A thriving vertical relationship is what moves ministry to be theologically and biblically astute. However, far more than orientation, the relationship with God serves as the medium through which everything else finds life. I value ministry that pushes students towards a genuine, day-in-and-day-out relationship with God, complete with daily communication and vibrant life.
Horizontal. A genuine love for Christ will result in a genuine desire for human relationships. How good it is to see God’s children dwelling together in unity (Ps. 133:1). There is much beauty in ministry that demonstrates heart-felt compassion for people and among people. This type of love and care leads to honest intimacy and vulnerability. How good it is when students begin to genuinely care for and pray for their brothers and sisters in Christ. I value ministry that refuses to be exclusively life-based or truth-based, but clings to the tension where life and truth meet.

“I value ministry that is heart-centered.”
When, for a student, the relationship with God moves from head knowledge to heart knowledge, all heaven must sing. When the truth and love of Christ capture the heart, it is as if a person has been completely recast. We have all been around people that know the answers but fail to love the Savior. What a tragedy! Heart-centered values find expression in five areas:
Scripture. I value ministry that emphasizes the Bible as a love letter above all else. A beautiful ministry always precedes “Don’t you ever read your Bibles?” with “Oh, that you would fall in love with the Savior.” When the Bible is seen as God’s love letter to humanity, then the master artist’s brush is free to work. A heart-centered approach allows for the beauty of Scripture to permeate the ministry.
Prayer. Prayer is the natural response of a lover of God trying to communicate with her lover. I value the relational, heart-centered element of prayer.
Truth. Someone deeply in love with the LORD will passionately pursue truth. Truth is the food and drink of a heart-centered relationship with God.
Affect. I value being around people who just feel different. A heart-centered relationship with the living God will never just effect one’s head and hands, but will always effect one’s affect.
Obedience. Jesus said, “If you love me, then you will obey my commandments.” There is much beauty in a ministry that sees obedience as a fruit of love, not as a means to love.

“I value ministry that is intentionally strategic.”
Jesus calls his followers to be strategic (see Luke 16), and I see much beauty in ministry that functions effectively, not just efficiently. There is much value in a ministry that uses its resources most effectively for the kingdom of God. Intentionally strategic ministry becomes an art form when it values:
Quality, not just quantity. There is much beauty in the biblical model that Christ used. Rather than try to use the thousands that came to see his miracles, Jesus chose to pour himself into a select few. I value quality ministry.
Effectiveness, not just efficiency. Effectiveness is difficult because it is so hard to measure. Yet, isn’t that the wonder of art? Just as aesthetics can never be reduced to science, so can ministry never be reduced to statistics.
Good thinking, not just good answers. A chief difference between the Apostles and the Pharisees is their ability to think. Jesus never let people off with an easy answer. He forced people to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate their life according to his truth.
Multiplication, not only addition – discipleship. Jesus chose to pour his life into a few chosen followers, not try to change the world with the crowds. I value the effectiveness and spiritual beauty of multiplicative discipleship.
Developing leaders, not just followers. Jesus took his disciples beyond followers to church founders. Inviting people to a challenge is so very important, and I value its role in the ministry of equipping the saints.

“What I value most . . .”
A love relationship with God built upon Scripture. I can think of no more beautiful thing than a ministry that is built solely upon biblical truths and principles that is producing fully devoted followers of Christ who love God, God’s people, and God’s Word with all of their heart. This is the beginning and the end. This is the foundation for anything worthy of value.

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