One Size Fits All Ministry?

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More and more people are recognizing that ministry is not “one size fits all.” All those emails you get about guaranteeing to double your Sunday morning attendance, attract more visitors, etc end up being pretty meaningless because what is working in one location with a particular group of Christians is not guaranteed to work everywhere else all the time.

People are now talking more and more about organic styles of ministry. These styles have more of a flow and fluctuation to them, recognizing that stagnation often leads to decline and a missing of our mission. Instead Christianity is seen as an ever growing process where our lives are not seen as a disconnected string of ministry activities. Instead Christianity is seen as an identity to be lived out.

In Guder’s Missional Church he talks about how the church has often chosen methodology over messiah in his landmark book Missional Church.

The typical North American response to our situation is to analyze the problem and find a solution. These solutions tend to be methodological. Arrange all the components of the church landscape differently, and many assume that the problem can be solved. Or use the best demographic or psychological or sociological insights, and one can redesign the church for success in our changing context. All it takes, it would seem, is money, talent, time and commitment.  – p.2

He goes on to say the real issues are not methodological (the mechanics of how specific ministries are done) but are spiritual and theological. I think Guder is right on the money. Another part of the problem is that we have typicall made elders out of those who know how to work the corporate model of finance and marketing to achieve growth. We have looked to them as they are the “successful” people in our midst. All the while overlooking those who have a heart for God’s mission and his people (thus the importance of an elder as a shepherd) even though they may not know how to keep their checkbook balanced.

How have you seen this imbalance and the influence of corporate models and methods over the spiritual and theological aspects of who we are as Christians and the mission we are a part of?

0 Responses

  1. I’ve seen it, but believe there is a one size fits all method everyone can use and be “successful” in ministry: love God, love people, and tell the world about Jesus.

    Those are fluid concepts regardless of the methods that shape them.

  2. I see it in the “flavor of the month” approach that so many churches employ. “This one is going to work,” followed by “This one is really going to work,” followed by “I’m serious this time…this one will really work!”

    At the other end of the spectrum, you have churches that stick to tired, outmoded models regardless of their effectiveness or relevance.

  3. I think the corperate model is definatly flowed. You never see this view in scripture. I think different ministry styles thought fit different churches. Work differently in different situations. I think the missional model is definately a model that can be used in and in any situation, size, and culture. I really enjoyed reading Missional Church. It was a fantastic read. Well worth it!
    Thank you Matt for sharing this with us.
    Great topic.

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