Personal Theology of Ministry

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When God calls, God enables:

Therefore I will trust God to enable me to fulfill his calling. An assurance of God’s calling is essential to effective pastoral ministry. Just as Old Testament priests did not take the honor of spiritual leadership upon themselves (Hebrews 5:4), so also the pastor must be called by God. This call contains both inward and outward aspects. Inwardly the pastor must have a sense of God’s call to the ministry. The apostle Paul experienced this as an inner compulsion to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16). Outwardly the pastor must demonstrate the giftedness and ability to perform the work of the ministry. The pastor should also demonstrate the leadership qualifications for ministry specifically listed in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9). The inward and outward calls come together at the point when a church calls and the pastor accepts a specific call to ministry within the church. This assurance of God’s calling both initiates and sustains the pastor in ministry. The knowledge that God enables those whom he calls gives the pastor great confidence in difficult ministry situations (Exodus 4:10-12; Jeremiah 4:1-10).

The pastor is called to equip the church for ministry:

Therefore I will equip those under my care for ministry through relevant preaching, teaching and discipleship. The church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31) and a loving family of believers (1 Peter 1:22). I will prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, and so that we may all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Christ and become mature (Ephesians 4:11-13). I will help people to discover and use their gifts for ministry. As pastor I will guard the purity and the unity of the church through Biblical teaching and loving discipline (Matthew 18:15-17; Ephesians 4:1-16).

The pastor is called to serve the church in love:

Therefore I will be motivated in ministry by love for God and love for people (Matthew 22:37-39). All of my best efforts count for nothing apart from love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). My model is Jesus Christ, the good shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. I must have the heart of the good shepherd rather than that of the hired hand who cares nothing for the sheep (John 10:11-13). I will be genuinely sincere with people and not operate from impure motives, flattery or deceit (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6). I will treat all people with dignity and respect (James 2:1-4) and use wisdom in dealing with different types of people (Jude 22-23). I will serve the church willingly and freely, not lording it over the flock, but setting the example for them (John 10:35-45; 1 Peter 5:1-5).

The church is called to serve the world in love:

Therefore the church must be active in mission and evangelism. Our lives must be characterized by both the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). As a pastor I will actively share the Good News of Jesus Christ with others, and I will encourage and equip other believers to do the same. I will encourage our church to be salt and light in the community in which we live so that others will be drawn to Christ by our message and example. I will also encourage the church to support missions around the world through prayer, financial support and personal involvement whenever possible.

Apart from God nothing of lasting value can be accomplished:

Therefore I will do the work of the ministry in full dependency on God through the Holy Spirit. In order to bear fruit I must remain in Christ. Apart from Christ I can do nothing (John 15:5). When Paul came to Corinth he did not depend on his own human skills or strength. Instead he resolved to know nothing but Christ crucified and relied fully on the Holy Spirit to authenticate his message (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). The Holy Spirit is the one who gives gifts for ministry. I must depend on him for these gifts if I am to speak as one speaking the very words of God and to serve with the strength God provides (1 Peter 4:10-11). Much of this dependency is demonstrated through prayer. Even Christ in his earthly ministry modeled dependency on God the Father through prayer (Luke 5:16; Hebrews 5:7).

God’s Word is central to all effective ministry:

Therefore I will make God’s word central to my ministry. I am a minister of Christ and God’s word. Paul charged Timothy to preach, correct, rebuke, encourage, instruct and evangelize (2 Timothy 4:1-5). He told him to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:11-14). God’s word is the power for salvation, especially through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:15). God’s word also contains the power for spiritual growth (1 Peter 1:23-2:3). God’s word never returns empty but always goes forth to accomplish his purposes (Isaiah 55:10-11). Should I stray from the word of God, I abandon my calling, power and authority. I will proclaim the whole will of God (Acts 20:27-31) and watch my own life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:15-16). I will run all of my decisions through God’s word and base my life and ministry on Biblical values.

Grace is the hallmark of true Christian ministry:

Therefore my ministry will be characterized by grace. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace (Ephesians 2:1-9). The gospel we share is the gospel of grace (Acts 20:24). An understanding of God’s grace and kindness leads people to repentance and salvation (Romans 2:4; Titus 3:3-8). People only grow in Christ and bear fruit as they come to understand God’s grace in all its truth (Colossians 1:6). Therefore, as a pastor my attitude will be marked by gentleness and grace. I will restore others gently, carry other’s burdens and maintain humility (Galatians 6:1-5). I will not quarrel but gently instruct others in the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26). I will answer people’s questions with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16). I will grow in God’s grace and encourage others to do the same (2 Peter 3:18). Once again, Jesus Christ is our supreme example. Christ models gentleness in ministry, sympathy with people’s weaknesses, and approachability (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:15-16).

The pastor is responsible to God and the church:

Therefore I will be accountable for my ministry. Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2). Those who have been faithful with little things will be trusted with much (Luke 16:10-12). Therefore I will endeavor to set the example by following the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). I will watch over the church as one who must give an account (Hebrews 13:17). I will be careful to teach God’s word accurately (James 3:1). I will pray for those under my spiritual leadership and care (1 Samuel 12:23). I will be accountable to the church that I serve (1 Timothy 5:17-20).

The pastor must care for his family and personal self:

Therefore I will balance ministry with personal and family life. A healthy self, a healthy family and a healthy church are all part of God’s kingdom which I am commanded to seek (Matthew 6:33). One of the qualifications for ministry is to manage my own family well (1 Timothy 3:4). I must set appropriate boundaries for myself and for my family so as not to let church ministry overrun my life. Christ has promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18), and I must trust him to do it rather than my own human efforts multiplied to the damage of family or self.

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