One of the blessings of teamwork in local church ministry is the opportunity to invest in those who serve.
God specifically calls leaders to transfer truth to others.
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2
Primarily, this truth is the gospel itself and the doctrines and lifestyle applications of God’s Word. But part of those applications are a biblical philosophy for ministry.
As a pastor, it is my heart to not simply instruct those I am privileged to lead and serve with, telling them what to do in each situation. I want to convey to them a biblical philosophy of ministry on which they can make decisions and develop programs as they serve. Partly, this helps with unity in a team. But to me, it’s more than that—it is an investment in the spiritual and ministry development of those on the team.
How can a leader move from simply having a desire to communicate biblical ministry philosophy to actually transferring it to others? There are many possibilities, and each team is different. But here are five suggestions, ways I have worked to convey ministry philosophy to our staff, and in particular, our pastoral staff:
- Encourage leaders at a spiritual level. This takes place through group devotions or discussions about spiritual topics at a personal level. More than learning specific methods, it is vital that a team is constantly and consistently developing a personal walk with God and a biblical mindset.
- Have weekly training. I try to make our staff meetings informative and collaborative, but also a time of development with biblical philosophies. I often prepare a leadership lesson that deals with personal growth and biblical ministry practices. In these lessons, I work to convey biblical principles and apply them to our local church setting, but I also share where I have a specific preference for how we serve our church family.
- Take annual retreats. Getting away twice a year for two days is a good time to come back to the basics of ministry. As a team, we allocate some of that time to plan upcoming programs and events. But we begin with discussion on personal spiritual growth and then several hours dedicated to a careful look at our purpose as a church and what we are doing that supports or undermines that purpose. These discussions are robust, healthy, and very helpful.
- Address concerns. No one is perfect, and no one needs to feel like they are constantly being examined or scrutinized. But when there is a real concern about how someone is carrying out their area of ministry, address it. These are some of the best moments to provide substantive feedback and specific application for your ministry philosophy as a leader. If the concern is ministry-wide, raise it in a team meeting. But if it only relates to one person, just work through it with that person. A popular term today is healthy conflict. I’ve never cared for a positive use of the word conflict, but I do agree with the fact that we need to hear differing opinions and listen to other viewpoints than our own, whether it’s comfortable or not.
- Invite guest speakers. When we have a guest speaker on Sunday, I’ll often ask him to stay over for a Monday staff training. It’s helpful for our entire pastoral team to hear insights and ideas from someone in another church and part of the country, and it’s helpful for me to have another voice sharing similar leadership philosophy.
Probably the most significant ingredient to conveying ministry philosophy to your team is a commitment to do it. These five ideas are helpful and are ones I regularly implement. But for them to be effective, there has to be an underlying heart to train and invest in, and there has to be a mutual relationship of trust and joy in serving the Lord together.
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