The Ministry Model


A ministry model is a blueprint showing how you will do ministry (a tool that usually follows the development of your values, purpose, vision, & strategy/operations).

There are a variety of reasons as to why having such a tool is key.

I have personally discovered a few reasons:

  • Models force us to begin a careful analysis of our theology, the social sciences, our ministry practices, and our target audience.
  • Models push ministries to operate by purpose instead of defaulting to the personality of the leader.

Chap Clark of Fuller Seminary gives three more reasons:

  • Models are developed out of a response to a unique setting and need. We are to ask key questions and begin to implement a strategy. This is the first step in the model process. Careful of relying too heavily on the “experts,” instead of creating your own ministry design in light of your own ministry context (which you know better than the so called “experts”).
  • Models are organically shaped and evolve over time. Many times we experiment and stumble upon our model, realizing it is never a finished product.
  • Models give us hope that the gospel works in a wildly changing environment. Models remind us that no matter whether they work for everyone today or tomorrow, God is faithful in moving his people to be creative, passionate, and involved in bringing forth the kingdom.

Have you developed a blueprint to “show” how your parachurch, church, or church ministry functions? If you were to explain your ministry philosophy through a flowing image, what would it look like?

NOTE: I think the biggest caution in developing a ministry model is pride. Some think they have the “market” on how to do ministry “the right way,” and that “all” churches must or should abide by. Though we can learn principles from all models, the key here is contextualization in translated practices.


~ by Dave Smith on February 19, 2008.

5 Responses to “The Ministry Model”

  1. It seems to be a pattern to create a model that 1) highlights a particular core function of the church (e.g. outreach) above the others, and, at the same time, 2) aligns itself with the particular passion and interest of the primary leader.

    I don’t see how any model can truly be independent of personality…but is it a pre-requisite?

    While I agree that pride is a common pitfall, I sometimes think that this is caused by a lack of intellectual honesty by both the “traditional” and “progressive” approaches to ministry models.

    One criticizes the other just as easily, and when we do it’s rarely out of compassion. We forget there is a season, a time and place for God to use ANY model that seeks to fulfill ANY one of His purposes.

  2. Interesting thoughts on how a model favors one value over another. Any examples come to mind?

    Regarding the personality of the leader…yea, at some level there is always a connection there…I guess the issue is how strong and if it is built soley around bringing people to the one leader.

    Good call on how the door swings both ways. I was almost going to put the second caution is having “model envy.” (Did Freud talk about this?)

  3. Without trying to be cliche or retread the some old debate – Alistair (discipleship) vs. Hybels (outreach) vs. Vineyard / Cymbala (worship) vs. Stanley (community) vs. Falwell (service).

    The Chapel = ??

    Everyone has their niche..or their “hobby horse” as one pastor likes to say.

    But is there anything inherently wrong with a personality driven model? Sure it can’t be sustained over the long term (generation to generation) as well, but if the outcome is biblical then is the model acceptable?

    And what defines too strong? For example, (and perhaps I’m showing some ignorance) if a church begins video conferencing sermons to different regions/campuses – does it creates too much dependence on one dynamic speaker (personality)? What happens to the “weaker” satellite locations when the personality is no longer there?

    It would seem to me that it’s still an effective model even if the connection is allegedly tied strongly to one personality. EVERY model has it’s own shortcomings – and a personality driven models just lack longevity.

  4. Good examples. Regarding The Chapel…not sure. We have a personality, but I would think that is distinct from the values-based examples your provided.

    Yea, I think there will always be an attachment to the personality at some level, but it comes down to whether your model is driven from that personality or by the values.

    May just be symantics.

    Great thoughts and insight Anthony!

  5. […] a few sessions with ministry leaders, the battle continues over the best ministry model in how we desiring to make disciples as a church.  Below is the current model in discussion, […]

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