Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Maintaining Balance Among the Church's Ministries

One of the first books I read early on in my ministry career was Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Church." That book shaped not only my approach to ministry, but also that of thousands of pastors and church leaders. So I can tell, now, you are probably thinking a couple of things.

1. Purpose-Driven Ministry is so 20th century, after all, it was first published 15 years ago.
2. Why would anyone be commenting on it now when they should be commenting on something modern like "Radical" or "Crazy Love" or if the modern antiquity, "Blue Like Jazz"?

But after nearly 15 years in various types of ministry roles, I realize how much that book impacted me. If you've never read the book, in a nutshell, Warren lays out 5 purposes that each church should fulfill: worship, discipleship, fellowship, evangelism, and ministry. Every church program or event should accomplish one or more of these purposes. At the time of the books release, apparently, a lot of churches, had lost their focus in a quest to make themselves more relevant to non-believers. This model helped them give "purpose" to their ministry programs.

Here is the problem I have with that (and this is not a slam against the book or the ministry model, but deals more with my response to the model). I have found that in my ministry, I have become more intentional about accomplishing a particular purpose with each program or event I plan. What has unwittingly happened, though, is I have begun to put these programs in a box. Therefore, programs designed for fellowship are not evangelistic. Programs designed for discipleship do not allow opportunities for ministry. Programs for worship are not geared for discipleship.

So should there be overlap between our programs? Can a church worship service be designed for worship, but also equip believers (discipleship) and be evangelistic as well? I blogged a few days ago that I believe evangelism and discipleship are inseparable, and we inhibit spiritual growth when we separate the two. But are our churches likewise becoming anemic when we make a program or event so focused on accomplishing one particular purpose that we negate the other needs of the congregation? What do you think?

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