Effective Structures of Ministry
It’s spring and soon we will be planting vegetable gardens.
Who plants vegetable gardens? What do you plant?
Planting and successfully growing vegetables is on the one hand simple, and other the other hand very complex. I want to end up with a some peppers and I am starting with this:
[pepper seeds photo]
And I want them to end up like this:
[pepper plant photo]
That’s where it gets complicated. On the one hand it seems easy, just get some soil, a container, water, and light, right? Those seem to be things we need but it’s really much more sophisticated than that. When a pepper plant grow properly, these are all of the parts of the structure of the plant!
[pepper plant structure photo]
How in the world am I going to make all of that happen? How do I make the roots, stem, leaves, flowers and ultimately the fruit, the pepper grow like that? I’m not. It’s going to grow all-by-itself. But I have a part. There are things I have to do so this happens. I have to plan many things, when to plant, what to plant and where to plant. I have to set aside time to do everything I need to do and commit to spending regular.
We can compare this to the way the church grows. We have a role.
26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Today we’re going to look at the effective structures that need to be present for a church to grow. These are the structural elements of ministry. Let’s begin with
We have to have a plan!
Our shared vision Proverbs 29:18, Matthew 28:18-20
Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
Where there is no vision, the people perish: But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
There are many quotes about the dangers of not having a plan.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, writer and pioneering aviator
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” ― Yogi Berra, former New York Yankees catcher
“Always plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” ― Richard Cushing, American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church
The good news is we have a plan! It is a shared plan that God gave us. It is to fulfill the great commission.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The elements of the plan are simple.
We have a good start. Let’s take that plan and apply it to us here in this room today.
There are different terms used to express this. Our master plan is what God wants us to do. Our purpose is the unique aspect of our mission here as a church in Mundelein, IL. We say what our mission is every week. What is it?
Our Unique Mission: To connect people with God and others. Galatians 4:8; 1 John 4:7; Matthew 22:19; Joshua 24:31; Mark 4:19-20
This is how we believe God wants us to accomplish His plan. In order to connect with God you have . . .
To know God Galatians 4:8; 1 John 4:7
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
To know God means to know He loves us, sent His Son to die for us and has made us a part of His family by believing that.
There is another element of knowing God that is different from that. It is . . .
To know His power Matthew 22:19; Joshua 24:31
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
Israel served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the Lord had done for Israel.
To know God’s power means we know what He can do because we have experienced it. I know God can provide for my needs when I can’t possibly imagine how! I know God can . . . .
It is wonderful to know God and to know His power. But this isn’t just a blessing for us to keep in a box hidden in our closet. That isn’t why God made Himself known to us. It is for us to enjoy and benefit from but it is also for us to share. And the unique thing about us is that God wants us . . .
To share God in our community Mark 5:19-20
God doesn’t want you to share the good news in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at least not today or unless you are watching this service from there. Part of the structure of God’s plan is the where. I live in Lake Zurich and am part of Longmeadow Community Church in Mundelein, IL because this is where God put me, and you!
Jesus healed a man who was demonized. The man trusted in Jesus and wanted to go with him. Here’s what Jesus said to him,
Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.
That is the same thing Jesus is saying to you and me. Share the good news with those in your life. Your family, neighbors and coworkers.
This leads us to the third element of the an effective structure of ministry.
Let dig a bit deeper into
Our roles and responsibilities 1 Peter 2:4,5,9; Revelation 1:6; 1 Corinthians 12;7; Romans 12:3-8
First we all have
Shared position: priesthood of believers
A priest is: “a minister of any religion—true or false, good or evil—who is given authority to teach the sacred information and perform the sacred duties to preserve and bring that faith to others.” https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-priest.html
A priest is a minister. With that in mind consider these verses:
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Being a priest means
you have direct access to God
you represent God to those who don’t know Him.
you serve God as a priest
and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
God prepared you and me for service by giving us a supernatural ability to serve Him. This is through
2. Shared enablement: spiritual gifts
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
I had an entire message on this a couple of weeks ago so I only want to highlight that an effective structure of ministry includes people using their gifts. The gifts differ, but the overall function of all gifts is the same. We have
3. Shared roles: service
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
We have a plan, a purpose and people. The last element of an effective structure of ministry is
It isn’t complicated.
Our steps to follow Him. Colossians 1:9-12; Matthew 6:33; James 1:22
Pray Colossians 1:9-12
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
2. Seek God. Matthew 6:33
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Seek God in every area of your life. Then
3. Act. James 1:22-25
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Describe how you see the wisdom of God in how he designed the structure of churches for ministry.
Some Christians struggle with the idea that they are priests. What about you? Is that easy or hard to accept? Why?
How do you see yourself fitting into the structure of ministry at Longmeadow? Share ideas for how to make us more effective with Pastor Ward and Elder Chris.