1. Effective Ministries Value the Whole Church
To be effective in the current culture wars, Evangelicals can no longer afford to shun their Catholic and Orthodox brethren. It is going to take the whole church standing together on social issues to see societal transformation. We may not be in the same denomination or local church, but we share the same overarching values regarding the Trinity, the need for the cross of Christ for salvation, the deity of Christ, and the Ten Commandments as a blueprint for the laws of a nation.
2. Effective Ministries Value Cities
Recently, for the first time in history, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban centers. There are presently 12 cities in the world with over 8 million in population. At the turn of the twentieth century, the same Christian fundamentalists in the United States who believed in biblical inerrancy and sang about the power of the blood of Jesus fled the cities for suburban utopias so they could experience “heaven on earth.” Only the modernists and the Catholic Church stayed in the cities of the northeastern USA. America and the nations of the earth will never be reclaimed for God unless the church becomes urban-sensitive and relevant. Those that read Scripture realize that, although Adam started out in a garden, the Bride of Christ will end up in a city (Revelation 21:1-3).
3. Effective Ministries Value those that are Vulnerable
In Luke 10 Jesus tells us to act like the Good Samaritan, who gave of himself to help save a helpless victim. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells us we will be judged for how we treat the powerless. Proverbs 24:11-12 teaches believers to deliver the helpless from impending death. In Luke 4:18, Jesus preaches the Gospel to the poor. For any ministry to have the favor of God, they must specialize in some way of empowering the powerless. This is the surest way for a church or ministry to receive favor with God and the people in their community.
4. Effective Ministries Value those that are in Authority or Share Power
Those in the church are not only called to minister to the powerless but to be prophets, counselors, and co-workers with those in power. It will not only take a bottom-up approach of ministering to the helpless for us to see a biblical reformation, but we will have to befriend and serve our communities with elected officials and key community leaders if we are going to adequately represent the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. The church needs to network with all types of key leaders in order to fund and/or have the permission needed to expand and cut through red tape, which is necessary to purchase facilities and serve a community.
5. Effective Ministries Value Justice
I found out a long time ago while ministering in a poor Hispanic community in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that there is a huge difference between charity and justice. With mere charity the elite can protect their power and look good by giving out handouts. All this paternal methodology does is continue the cycles of poverty in ethnic communities. On the other hand, justice comes when key leaders in a community do what it takes to give poor children a proper education, with its concomitant opportunities that give them equal footing with the majority culture in regards to economic advancement. Finally, parents also need to act responsibly and give their best effort in overcoming any obstacles their children have toward learning, by cooperating with educators and non-profit organizations that offer them expert services and catalyze latent human potential.
6. Effective Ministries Value Community
All effective ministries allow relationships to house their vision. Above all, human beings need to have a people they can call family and a place they can call home. It is not enough to have vision, big buildings, and huge crowds; we need to experience community in order to thrive in Christ and in culture.
7. Effective Ministries Value “Doing” Theology
Much preaching today is high on style but low on content. Much of what we call word ministry is really a dissemination of pabulum with an accompanying ministry strategy that is a mile long and an inch deep. I believe God is calling for His church to again recapture the essence of serious, ordered biblical studies from the cradle to the grave for true discipleship. I believe all ministers of the word should be theologians; that is to say, they should all make a life-long commitment to study God before they dare stand in the pulpit. Also, those who are urban practitioners are in a great position to not only study theology but also “do” theology because, when faced with the harsh realities of inner-city challenges, theology must come out of the shadowlands of the abstract and into the real world through the power of the Holy Spirit, or else any ministry will fail quickly.
8. Effective Ministries Value the Local Church
Effective missions should always have a proper ecclesiology. Those ministries that do not recognize and work through the local church have no real place to release people to their destiny. The Scriptures show that the local church is the front and center of God’s will on the earth.
9. Effective Ministries Value Leadership Development
Leadership development is the key to advancing from a paternal relationship with our congregants to an empowering relationship that processes people into real maturity replete with responsibility. Ministries that do not intentionally aim to develop leadership will not experience long-lasting fruit in their labors and will only end up with followers who cannot think for themselves, or worse–their ministers will be involved in co-dependent relationships with their congregants. This happens when ministers need to be needed as much as their congregants need to be needy!
10. Effective Ministries Value History
According to the Book of Ecclesiastes, history repeats itself. Because of this, it behooves successful ministries to study the strategies of similar ministry models that have gone before them, so they can glean from past mistakes and successes. Also, all ministries should know the history of the people in the geographic area they are serving, so they have an understanding of the context found in the spiritual landscape of time and space. When King David experienced a three year famine in the land, he found it was because of the innocent blood King Saul had shed years before David was even king (2 Samuel 21:1). This illustrates that sometimes blessings are withheld in the present because of unrepentant sins of the past. Proper study of the history of your area, by reading books from the local historical society and by speaking to older residents, will give your ministry a greater ability to strategize commensurate with the economic and demographic trends continually unfolding in your region.
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