What Your Philosophy of Ministry IS
In the last installment of this 2-part series, When Loving God and Loving People Isn’t Enough, we talked about what a Philosophy of Ministry isn’t. In this blog, we’ll talk about what elements SHOULD be included in a healthy Philosophy of Ministry (POM) that is faithful, unique, and actionable.
(Be sure to read to the end and download a free resource that will help as you formulate your own POM!)
Remember, a well-rounded and actionable ministry includes three components:
- Theology (Core Beliefs)
- Philosophy (Transferable Principles & Guiding Values)
- Methodology (Effective Execution)
These three components help you answer “why” you do what you do and “how” you will go about it. If you were interviewing for a mechanical engineering job, your potential employer would want to know that you had been trained. Explaining “why” mechanical engineering is important to society and to you may help affirm a shared value, but it doesn’t say anything about your capacity to be a great engineer. That hiring manager isn’t just looking for somebody who loves engineering, but somebody who actually knows how to do engineering. Chances are, the hiring manager and you are already on the same page when it comes to the “why” of engineering. What he’s looking for is the “how.”
When you’re interviewing for a church role, the same principle holds true: your potential employer isn’t just looking for your love for ministry, but also for your capacity to lead ministry and people well. They want to know that you will be able to connect your theology to your methodology in a way that will lead to healthy growth. It should speak to the role you are applying for, but it should be more than the job description. It should lead to your ministry model, but it isn’t quite the same as your model. When your model of ministry changes, your philosophy should remain largely the same. Your POM should bring clarity to when and how you use what models and methods to grow a healthy ministry and healthy church.
Here's what your Philosophy of Ministry is:
Your POM is a bridge
Your philosophy of ministry is the bridge between your theology and your methodology. It is the set of transferable principles and guiding values that connects the “Why” with the “How” and your “Calling” with your “Context.” A well-rounded philosophy of ministry should be able to articulate everything from the mission to the methods in an orderly and coherent way. Remember the concentric circles from the last installment? Here it is again:
Your POM is a guardrail
Your Guiding Values are drawn from your theology and applied to your ministry. If something falls outside of your ministry values, then it should not be included in your ministry methods. This includes unhealthy things, but it also includes good things that just don’t fit with what you are trying to do. For example, if you are a Children’s Director and someone wants to start a Puppet Ministry, it may fit your value of serving children, but not your value of ministry excellence. Your POM allows you to honor that incredible volunteer while redirecting them to serve children in ways that are more consistent with your ministry values. One of the hardest things to do in ministry is decide what is not worth doing. Your POM should help you filter out what may be good things but would ultimately distract the church, dilute the message, or derail the vision.
Your POM is a compass.
It isn’t just about what you do and don’t do, but about where you’re heading. It aligns your methods with your mission, making sure that the tangible steps you take in ministry lead toward your overarching and long-term goals. It helps to clarify what gets measured and how to know if you are succeeding.
Outfitted with these images of a bridge, a guardrail, and a compass, you should be able to create a Philosophy of Ministry that is faithful to Scripture, unique to you, and actionable in your ministry context.
As an exercise to help you get started on your own, download this free guide, grab a Bible, and work through each question. It will likely take you one to two hours to complete. This download gives you guidance to create a well-thought-out POM and provides you with resources and samples to serve as a catalyst to help move you forward!
Have questions? I'd love to hear from you.