Christian Philosophy of Ministry | Lone Hill Church, Los Gatos, CA

Introduction

"One thing, working all kinds of devastation in the life of the church is the failure of the leadership to have a solid philosophy--", writes Jerry Cook in his book, Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness (p. 23), "a well-defined concept of how a church ought to operate and why." Frank Tillapaugh puts it this way in his book, Unleashing the Church (p. 138), "The dynamic is Spirit-filled people meeting other people's needs in Jesus' Name, wherever they are. You can't reduce that to methodology. Concentrating on practices instead of principles is like building our homes on sand. When the storms of doubt, criticism and failure come, we immediately begin looking for new methods .... Before a church spends much time on methodology it should spend a lot of time on philosophy of ministry."

How is the Church of Jesus Christ to operate in principle and why? The answer to this question is a statement of Philosophy of Ministry.

ARTICLE ONE -
The Head of the Church

Ephesians 1:20-23 states that the Father has seated Christ "above all rule and authority, power and dominion.... placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.... " (vid. Col. 1:18). Christ's Headship is the essential starting point of our Philosophy of Ministry. As Head He is both the beginning from which the Church began and the end to which the Church is called. Thus, the Church is His Church, and the Church exists to do His will and bring the Godhead glory and praise (1 Pet. 2:9, 10; 4:11).

  1. What does this mean?
    1. a. As Head, Christ indwells His Body, the Church, through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:16-19; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-16; Jn. 14:15-21; Mt. 28:18-20).
    2. b. As Head, Christ indwells the Church so that through the Church, both corporately and individually, He might manifest Himself in a number of ways:
      1. 1) that we might be Christ-minded and Spirit-enlightened in understanding and thinking, i.e., that we perceive and understand circumstances, situations, values, etc. as does the Father, the Son and the Spirit (Eph. 1:17-23; 3:16-19; cf. 1 Cor. 2:12-16; Col. 1:9-20; Eph. 3:1-13; 4:20-24),
      2. 2) that we demonstrate the love of Christ in attitude, lifestyle, relationships, concern, and message (Eph. 4:14-16; 3:17-19; 4:1-5:2 1),
      3. 3) that we might obey His Word and proclaim it (Jn. 8:31; Eph. 4:15,20-24; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 8:4; Rom. 10:12-15; 16:25-27; 2 Cor. 5:20; Col. 4:6),
      4. 4) that we might ultimately be filled with the fullness of the Father, the Son and the Spirit (Eph. 3:16-19; 4:8-13; ); 5:18; 1:20-23; Col. 2:9-10),
      5. 5) and that finally we will be presented as His perfected and radiant Church at His coming (Eph. 4:13; 5:23-27; 1 Cor. 1:7-9; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4; 2 Pet. 1:4).
  2. How does this operate?
    1. a. Through Leadership who are called by the Holy Spirit and receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and through the Body being receptive to the leading of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:7-16; Acts 6:3-6; 20:28; 13:1-3;15:28).
    2. b. Through Leadership who have and hold the correct priorities of prayer, the ministry of God's Word (i.e., teaching and preaching), equipping the Body and shepherding God's people (Acts 6:2-4; 20:28-32; Eph. 4:11-13).
    3. c. Through the Body ministering in accordance with their spiritual giftedness (1 Cor. 12:4-26; Eph. 4:7-16; Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
    4. d. Through the Body's demonstration of love within the life of the church and in the world (Jn. 13:3 )4- 35; 1 Cor. 13:1-13; Eph. 4:14-16).
    5. e. Through the Body's proclamation of the Good News of Christ to the world and the making of disciples (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16).

ARTICLE TWO -
The Mandate from the Head

Matthew 28:18-20 establishes that it was from his position of Headship, "all authority in heaven and earth has been given me" (cf. Eph. 1:20-23), that Jesus mandated His disciples to disciple the nations. Therefore, the overarching mandate for the Church today is to continue what Jesus began during His three years of ministry which was to make disciples (Mt. 4:18-22; Jn. 20:21; Acts 1:1, 8; Rom. 16:25-27).
  1. What does this mean?
    1. a. To make disciples of the nations encompasses more than a simple leading of an unbeliever to a decision of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, culminating in baptism (v. 19), and starting them on the road of following Christ. It also encompasses the entire process of equipping, nurturing and shepherding those followers to "obey everything" Jesus has commanded (v. 20; cf. Eph. 4:12-13; Col. 1:28-29; 2:7). "To make disciples" encompasses the whole process from the first step of proclaiming. The command, proclaiming the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-8) to the unbeliever to the last step in a life of obedient and fruitful faith which perseveres to the end (cf. Mt. 10:22; 24:13; Mk. 13:13; Heb. 10:35-39; Rev. 2:10; 12:11; 17:14).
    2. b. Thus, the mandate encompasses equally both the evangelistic mission of the Church (Mt. 28:18-20), as well as the task of perfecting the saints (Eph. 4:11-16).
    3. c. Crucial to this process of discipling, which Jesus modeled for us, is the nurture and training of a follower so that he/she becomes mature enough to be sent in ministry (Jn. 20:21; Heb. 5:11-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:11-16; e.g., 1 Thess. 1:4-10).
  2. What are the marks of this level of maturity?
    1. a. There are levels of maturity (Phil. 3:12-16; i.e., perfect, v. 12, and mature v. 15; cf. Mt. 13:23; 1 Jn. 2:12-14; Heb. 5:11-14; 1 Cor. 2:14-3:3).
    2. b. There is an ultimate maturity or perfection which we finally attain in glorification (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Phil. 3:20, 21; 1 Jn. 3:2-3).
    3. c. There is a functional maturity which is progressive and fruitful (2 Pet. 1:4ff.) but not perfect (cf. Phil. 3: 12-16). Hebrews 5:10-14 points to this functional maturity.
      1. 1) Christian functional maturity is the twofold development of understanding (Col. 1:9ff) and practicing (Mt. 28:19) holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:15). It is the level of spiritual growth measured by our understanding and practice of distinguishing between what is righteous and unrighteous (Heb. 5:14). Further, maturity is distinguished by the ability and practice of feeding oneself the solid food of God's Word (Heb. 5:12-13). In addition, the mature teach and train others to attain this level of maturity (Heb.5:12).
      2. 2) Specific goals recommended for guiding someone to functional maturity:
        1. a) Personal Walk
          Daily prayer and daily time in the Word with the result that one experiences an ever-increasing awareness of Christ's presence, is walking in the power of the Spirit, and has a growing knowledge of God and obedience to His Word (Acts 2:42, 46-47; Ps. 5:3; 55:17; 1 Thess. 3:10; Mark 1:35; Deut. 17:19; 11:19; Col. 4:16).
        2. b) Doctrinal Education
          Doctrinal Education represents the ability to feed one's self and to teach others from the solid food of God's Word (Heb. 5:11-14; 2 Tim. 3:14-17). Reflective of this, one should have the solid discipline of daily Bible reading, and the ability through the study of Scripture to answer questions of the faith. In addition, the mature should have a clear knowledge and understanding of the fundamental doctrines (e.g. Eph. 4:3-6, 13; Heb. 6:1, 2; Acts 2:42) represented in our Statement of Faith.
        3. c) Kingdom Priorities
          To avoid conformity to the world and realize our call to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, we must daily manage our lives by the priorities of God's Kingdom. Prioritizing the development and demonstration of such things as (1) character (Mt. 5:3-12), (2) witness (13-16), (3) righteousness (17-48), (4) living in the presence of God (6:1-18), (5) freedom from anxiety and materialism (19-34), (6) caring, relationships (7:1-12), and (7) fruitfulness (13 )-29) establish God's Kingdom and righteousness as the top priority in each disciple's life. The result of living out these priorities will be a developing and visible Christlike character and lifestyle which exhibits an investment in the work of the Kingdom by a wise and balanced management of time, fruitful use of gifts, and financial giving which demonstrates both financial freedom and faithfulness to the cause of Christ and the work of His Church (cf. Matt. 7:19-21, 33; Eph. 5:15 -17; 1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8:7; 9:6-15; Rom. 13:8, 11-14).
        4. d) Fellowship Involvement
          (1) Weekly faithfulness in worship and (2) involvement with a small group and (3) one to one discipling relationships, so that personal growth, equipping, love, accountability, and belonging are being experienced (Heb. 10:24-25; Acts 2:42, 46-47; 20:7; Heb. 5:11-14; 2 Tim. 2:2; Eph. 5:19).
        5. e) Family Development
          Daily prayer with and for one's family, especially spouse and children, so that they and your relationships with them are growing and maturing in Christ (Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:18).
        6. f) Personal Ministry
          Recognition of one's spiritual gift(s) which results in consistent involvement in a personal ministry (1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 12:7; Rom. 12:6-8).
        7. g) Evangelistic Activity
          Equipped to witness and to share the Good News (1) one's testimony, (2) a personal presentation of the Gospel, and (3) a prayer-saturated plan of relationship cultivation, so that regular prayer for the lost is offered, weekly witness is given, and people are being discipled into Christ (Rev. 12:11; Mark 5:19; Acts 1:8; 2 Tim, 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20; 1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:6; John 13:34-35).
          There are also marks of corporate maturity in the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:12-16). These too have both a progressive nature and an ultimate perfection in mind (unity in faith and in knowledge, attaining to the fullness of Christ, stability in doctrine and understanding, loving evangelism, the proper working of each part of the Body, growth and building up the Body in love).

ARTICLE THREE –
Leadership: The Head’s Gift to the Body

Ephesians 4:7-16 teaches that Leadership in its many varied forms, functions, responsibilities, specific callings, and giftedness are special gifts to the Church. They are gifts given for a very specific reason and function. They are declared to be joints or ligaments of the body. This reflects their necessary and unique function within the body.
  1. What are the specific tasks of Leadership?
    They are to "prepare" or "equip" the Body, God's people, "for the works of service" or "works of ministry." The important distinction must be underlined that Leadership does not do the "works of ministry" for the Body, but rather they equip the Body to do this work (Eph. 4:11-12; Acts 6:2; 20:28).
    1. a. Fundamental to this equipping and preparation is the implied task of leading. To say this is to underline the fact that "equipping" is a means to an end. The "leadership" task both precedes and succeeds it, and, thus, it encompasses the equipping task. Leading is the greater task which sees Christ's end goal for the Body, and also sees equipping as a means to this end; but leading does not end with equipping. It is not completed till the ultimate maturity of the Body is reached (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:17; Rom. 12:8).
    2. b. As ligaments to the Body, Leadership is also to "join" and "hold" the members of the Body together (Eph. 4:16). This would imply the shepherding function of Leadership which nurtures, corrects, and disciplines (Acts 20:28-31), and it further reflects the maintenance of unity within the life and ministry of the Body (e.g., Phil. 2:1-4; 4:2-3).
  2. How are Leaders to do this?
    1. a. They are to lead, so that the priorities and mandate of the Head are accomplished. Therefore, they are to lead by the instruction of God's Word (Acts 1:16-21; 6:2; 20:32) and the specific leading of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 6:3-6; 12:1-3; 15:28). Such is characterized by the tasks of prayer, study, planning, and communicating.
    2. b. They are to lead by equipping the Body. The equipping process is complex, and it can only be accomplished through prayer and intercession, the teaching ministry of God's Word, modeling, encouragement, and accountability.
    3. c. They are to lead essentially by the process of the "life to life" transference, i.e., personal growth resulting in greater obedience to Jesus Christ which is stimulated by one's exposure to the example and modeling of another's vital faith and obedience to Jesus Christ; it is the process of passing on faith and obedience from "faith to faith" (Rom. 1:11-12,17); it is the process of enabling discipleship to be caught well as, it being taught. This is essentially the heart of making disciples" (2 Tim. 2:2; Heb. 5:10-14; Mt. 4:18-22; 28:18-20; 1 Thess. 2:8).
  3. What results are to be expected?
    1. a. The Body should be expected to grow progressively in holiness and righteousness (Eph. 4:24) and in the living out of Christ's love (Mt. 25:31-46; Eph. 4:15-16; Jn. 13:34-35; Col. 1:28-29; 2 Cor. 13:9,11).
      1. 1) This should be evident in the vitality of their individual walks with the Lord;
      2. 2) it should characterize the relationships, marriages, and families within the Body;
      3. 3) and it should characterize the interaction of the ministry of the Body in all that they do and the Body's ministry to the world.
    2. b. A "multiplication of ministry" as "functional maturity" is reached by more and more of the Body. This maturity should be expected to reproduce itself again and again (1 Thess. 1:4-10; Eph. 4:11-13; 2 Tim. 2:2).
    3. c. An effective evangelistic ministry, i.e., non-believers becoming believers, as a result of the combination of the faithful and bold witness of the Body (1 Thess. 1:6-10) and the calling of God (1 Thess. 2:12-13; 1 Cor. 3:6; Acts 2:47).
    4. d. This evangelistic ministry should be expected to spread beyond the borders of the local Body's geographic area to overflow to "the nations" of the earth (Mt. 28:18-20; Rom. 16:25-27).

ARTICLE FOUR -
The Body

Ephesians 4:11-16 teaches that Christ, the Head, has given Leadership, the ligaments, so that the Body, the Church, will be equipped to do the work of ministry. The end result of these relationships is that the Body will be "built up" (v.12) and "grow" (v.16). This is the result of each part doing its work. Therefore, the Body should expect the ligaments to do their work, as the ligaments should expect the members of the Body to do their work; and each member of the Body should expect the other members to do their work.
  1. What is expected of the members of the Body?
    1. a. First, there is the accepted understanding that each has become a member of the Body of Christ -- by public confession of his/her faith in the person and the work of Christ, embracing Him as both Savior and Lord, and by immersion into Christ (Rom. 10:10; Mt. 10:32-33; Acts 2:41; Gal. 3:27; 1 Cor. 12:13).
    2. b. Second, each member is expected to be a committed, growing, and submissive disciple of Christ. This is to be demonstrated by each one's heart attitudes and reflecting lifestyle (Mt. 16:24-27; Col. 3:22).
    3. c. Third, it is expected of each member to be committed to and ministering to the other members of the Body, so that each member, and thus, the Body, grows into the likeness and full measure of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).
    4. d. Represented in these three basic expectations are several specific commitments which can be expected from each member of the Body by the Leadership.
      1. 1) A commitment and obedience to the authority of God's Word, the Bible, as our rule of faith and practice (Jn. 8:31-32; 2 Tim. 3:16).
      2. 2) A commitment to personal spiritual growth which produces the fruit of the Spirit and especially the demonstration of agape love both to the other members of the Body and to the world (Col. 2:6,7; Gal. 5:22-25; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; 1 Tim. 4:7,8; 1 Cor. 13:1-8; Rom. 12:9-21).
      3. 3) A commitment to pray regularly for the other members, the Leadership, our missionaries, and the entire ministry of the Lone Hill Church (Acts 2:42; Col. 4:2-6; Eph. 6:18,19).
      4. 4) A commitment to recognize your spiritual gift(s) and to regularly and faithfully minister in accord with that grace (Rom. 12:6; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
      5. 5) A commitment to be personally involved in sharing the Gospel with those outside the Body of Christ (Mt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
      6. 6) A commitment to regularly attend and participate in the formal and informal gatherings of the Body for worship, fellowship, mutual encouragement and ministry (Heb. 10:24,25; Acts 2:42,46,47). Minimally, each member is expected to be in attendance for Sunday worship and weekly involvement in a small group. One of the specific results of participation in fellowship should be the development of close friendships with other members of the Body.
      7. 7) A commitment to faithful stewardship including the giving of our time, talent, spiritual gifts and consistent, proportionate financial support of the ministry of Lone Hill Church (Mt. 6:33; 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 16:1,2; 2 Cor. 9:6-15; Mal. 3:6-12).
      8. 8) A commitment to submit to and support the Leadership of the church and the Biblical guidelines of church discipline (Heb. 13:17; Mt. 18:15-18; Gal. 2:11-21; 6:1-5; 1 Cor. 5:1-5; 2 Cor. 13: 10; 1 Tim. 5:9-2 1; 2 Tim. 2:24-3:5,16-17; Tit. 3: 10-11).
    5. e. Also, represented in these three basic expectations are several specific commitments (in addition to the above eight commitments) which can be expected from each member of the Body by the other members of the Body.
      1. 1) Encouragement and friendship toward one another (Eph. 4:29, 32; 2 Pet. 1:7; 1 Thess. 4:18; Jn. 13:34; 15:14-17; Rom. 12:10; 13:8).
      2. 2) Admonition and correction toward one another (Rom. 15:14; Phil. 2:3-4; Gal. 5:13; 6:2; Col. 3:16; Heb. 10:24; Jas. 5:16).
      3. 3) Examples of others striving to live out lives of a Christ-like lifestyle and mutual ministry toward one another (1 Thess. 1:6-10; Phil. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7; Jas. 5: 10; 1 Pet. 2:2 1; 3 Jn. 11-12).
      4. 4) A fellowship characterized by forgiveness and acceptance toward one another (Mk. 9:50; Rom. 12:10; 15:7; Col. 3:13; Eph. 4:2; 1 Pet. 4:9).
      5. 5) Intercessory prayer on behalf of one another (Jas. 5:16; Eph. 6:18).
      6. 6) Time given to fulfill these commitments (Matt. 7:33; Heb. 10:24-25; Eph. 4:15-17).
  2. What is expected of the Ligaments, the Leadership?
    1. a. To be led and lead by the Word and the Spirit (Acts 6:2-4; 20:28-32; 13:1-3; 15:28).
    2. b. To teach the Word, equip the saints, pray for the Body, and hold the Body accountable for growth in the Lord by both encouragement and rebuke (Acts 6:2-4; 20:28-32; Heb. 13:17; Col. 4:12; Phil. 1:3-6; Col. 1:9-14).
    3. c. To love and shepherd the Body (Acts 20:28-32; Ez. 34:1-31).
    4. d. To be models and examples of walking in Christ (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
    5. e. To hold the other leaders personally accountable for their leadership (Acts 20:28; 1 Tim. 5:19-21).

Summary

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts of the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body" (1 Corinthians 12:14-20).

"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. ...It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work" (Ephesians 4:7,11-16).