Philosophy of Ministry

Pastor Glenn R. Leatherman
Philosophy of Ministry
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth” (2Timothy 2:24-25).
Note: My development of ministry convictions, persuasions, and opinions are driven by my love for God and his Word rather than tradition. Thus this biblical philosophy is consistent with historical Evangelical and Baptist understanding of the purposes and ministry of the church. The statements in this document are idealistic statements that I have personally been developing and are not to be taken as an absolute position. In my pastoral ministry, I would not intent to make any church conform to this philosophy legalistically (nor dictate them by fiat), but would use them (Lord willing) as a guide to develop a shared Philosophy of Ministry over time in dialogue with in whatever pastorate God calls me to. Each setting of ministry is different and requires the pastor to lead in the development of a particular Philosophy of Ministry for that particular setting.

Purpose: ... to build people who treasure the glory of God together by making disciplemaking-disciples of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:19-20) for the joy of all peoples (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Psalm 37:4; Psalm 16:11; Romans 12:1-2; John 4:23-24).

Summary: Paul commanded Timothy: (1) to be faithful in his preaching of biblical truth; (2) to be bold in
exposing and refuting error; (3) to be an example of godliness to the flock; (4) to be diligent and work hard in
the ministry; and (5) to be willing to suffer hardship and persecution in his service for the Lord.

Gospel Growth is the goal: Gospel Growth basically proceeds through three foundational Ps: Proclamation, Prayer and People.  Jesus commissioned every disciple for disciple-making, and a pastor-teacher's job is not only to Proclaim and to Pray but also also to equip, train and mobilize People for the task. Gospel growth multiplies as Christians get involved in the three P's: in prayerfully speaking God's word to other people, in whatever way they can, large or small, at home or at work, in small groups or one-to-one. 

The Product: The most important aspect of any church is the product they produce by God's grace. God
has commanded me as a pastor to reproduce a mature, fruitful, growing disciple of Jesus Christ. I define a
mature disciple as a believer who is: (see also my phased definition)

  • Savoring the Vision through...

    • Exalting God by worshiping God in all that they do.
    • Esteeming Christ Jesus over themselves, family, friends, work, and interests as the all satisfying treasure and love of their lives.

  • Strengthing the Vision through...

    • Establishing one another in Christ through loving nurture, relational community, curricular Bible study, Biblical theology, joyful fellowship, intentional assimilation, & humble prayer.
    • Enhancing their commitment to their family and to the development of a God centered home.

  • Shaping the Vision through...

    • Equipping themselves in Christ-like maturity by practicing the basic disciplines of the Christian life through instruction, accountability, and Healthy relationships that include intimacy.
    • Edifying others through gift oriented service to Christ's body.
    • Enabling other believers to bear fruit in ministry, to support the work of ministry, and to become disciplemaking leaders in an area of ministry and mission God has called them to.

  • Spreading the Vision Through...

    • Evangelizing by aggressively taking the initiative to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ starting in their own locale.
    • Extending disciplemaking to the world for the joy of all peoples

My Philosophy of Equipping and Equippers
1. The Senior Pastor's role and commitment is to live and model an authentic Christian life of godliness. The senior pastor's role is also that of a"shephard-coach," and his task is primarily to teach and preach the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:1-2), graciously expose and refute error (1 Timothy 1:3-5, 5:1-2), give direction for the leadership (1 Peter 5:1-4), cast the vision of disciplemaking before all the people (Matthew 28:18-20), train leaders (Eph. 4:11-16), willingly suffer hardship and persecution in service for the Lord (2 Timothy 1:8, 2:3-13, 4:5), and be a model disciple for others (2 Tim. 2:2, 1Tim. 4:12). He is responsible to encourage, develop and protect the disciplemaking process (1 Timothy 4:1-16; 1 Timothy 5:17-18). He should seldom perform ministries lay leaders could do unless it is absolutely necessary in order to devote himself to these biblical priorities of a pastor.

2. The role of the other pastors and ministerial staff members are the same as that of the senior pastor in that staff member's area of ministry. All Pastoral staff and ministerial staff are to model discipleship in their own lives by reproducing disciples, releasing them to do ministry and giving them encouragement, support, and direction while maintaining accountability (2 Timothy 2:2; Galatians 6:1-2; Matthew 25:34-40; James 5:14-15).

3. The role of our deacons is to be actively involved in serving their specific areas of caring/serving ministry and to be models in the discipleship process (1 Timothy 3:13). The deacons oversee the physical needs of the church, reporting to the pastor(s).

4. The role of our lay leaders is to model discipleship, to grow in their own ministry skills, and to equip the rest of the congregation for ministry. They are to be actively involved in leading in their specific areas of ministry.  Leaders will be recognized during the disciplemaking process by considering character, giftedness, virtue, commitment, and proven experience, as demonstrated over time through this training process. All leaders must be growing disciples and committed to the church's doctrinal statement and philosophy of ministry. A key point to our philosophy of leadership is that our leaders are servants who are exercising their ministry gifts. We will seek to minimize the number of policy makers and maximize the number of persons doing ministry.

5. The church member's role and responsibility is to grow as a disciple, to be trained to use his/her gifts, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to directly minister to Christians, and to seek to win those to Christ who do not know Him. The church will encourage individuals to develop and employ their gifts in ministry in order to be creative, pro-active, need oriented, and decentralized in disciplemaking. We offer regular teaching on spiritual gifts as a means for people to discover how God has gifted them personally. We recognize servant gifts as being equally important as leadership gifts in building a healthy, disciplemaking church.

6. Within the Body of Christ, the Spirit has gifted and appointed certain members to serve God's people by providing leadership. While those not so gifted and appointed are equal to those who are, they serve a different function and in this sense do not share the same level of leadership authority.

7. To ensure their spiritual growth and good stewards of their spiritual gifts, all pastors, deacons, small group leaders, Bible Fellowship (Sunday school) teachers and outreach leaders will meet in our Ministry Community or with their disciplemaker at least twice a month.

8. All leaders of church ministries will take part in on-going leader training to constantly develop the gifts God has given them.

My Philosophy of Church Ministries
(Programs and structures)
9. In Mark 12:29-31 (Matt. 22:36-40, The Great Commandment), Jesus not only commands every church to organize to love and worship God, but also gives every church and thus the pastor and church leaders a direct Biblical responsibility to organize the ministry and group infrastructure of the church in order to produce healthy and loving relationships. Since the church is a family of families and a group of groups, each group (i.e. worship celebrations services, Bible fellowships [Sunday schools], small groups, task groups, families, etc.) needs to know its purpose in making disciples in relation to all the other groups in the church. This group infrastructure must by supported by accountability.

10. The purpose of every activity of our church is to glorify God by producing and furthering the development of disciples of Jesus Christ. We will continually evaluate every structure, program and activity in our church by its effectiveness in meeting the purposes of worship and disciple making. We will modify or discontinue any structure, program or activity that does not effectively enhance worship or disciple making.

11. To accomplish our tasks the church has three basic kinds of structures (see 12, 13, 14 below) that together make disciples. Members are strongly encouraged to be involved in all three of these structures.

12. The first is our worship or celebration service(s) (Exalting), - which emphasizes worship in a celebrative style and expository teaching of God's Word in order to help people become and continue to grow as disciples. The primary function of Worship Services will be true worship and the proclamation of God's word, while providing an atmosphere that is warm and accepting of newcomers (Acts 2:42-47). We desire to have a participatory worship service where we celebrate our unity and oneness in Christ. Worship is the goal and the fuel for all ministry and missions.

13. Second, we have Bible Fellowships (Sunday school classes) (Establishing) which are medium sized segmented open groups where Bible teaching, fellowship, sharing, and evangelism are emphasized. Our Bible Fellowships are designed to be key places where fellowship, outreach, assimilation, and service take place.

14. Our third structure is the small group (Equipping) (also known as cell group or community group), where accountability is developed in an intimate setting through bible study, prayer and encouragement. The small group is the primary structure for making disciples in our church. We offer small groups at different maturity levels to develop sequential growth for disciples. We see one-on-one approaches as valid and sometimes necessary, but only as a secondary method for most in our church.

15. Our forth structure is really the families that come to us, and our job is to also encourage healthy family integration and relationships as they interact through the ministries of the church (Enhancing). The church may do this by encouraging families to have devotionals together and through men and women ministries. These ministry vehicles (as well as others) should focus on strong Biblical theology that relates to the family, as well as the responsibilities and roles of men and women.

16. In order to promote loving relationships, we will establish a healthy balance between Worship Service(s) (larger groups with the relational dynamic of unity), Bible Fellowships (Sunday school classes) (mediumsized groups with the relational dynamic of fellowship), and small groups (with the relational dynamic of intimacy) to provide the proper group and relational infrastructure and family integration for the disciplemaking process.

17. The group structure will be set up so that no one will be expected to attend two groups of the same
dynamic, style, and function.

18. One of the types of small groups is our Ministry and/or Leadership Community (Enabling). This is the small group for those in leadership. It includes vision casting, skill building, planning, and accountability so the leadership will maintain and to continue to develop spiritual disciplines. One must have been a part of a Basic Accountability Group (BAG) before one is eligible for membership in the Ministry Community. This ensures that all leaders are trained and accountable to practice the disciplines of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Other types of small groups include Covenant groups, support groups, Ongoing BAGs, Ministry Community, Missions community, etc.

19. Evangelism - The importance of evangelism is a common thread stressed at all levels of ministry and is the starting point for discipleship. Initiative-relational evangelism will be our primary emphasis but will not exclude other effective means of outreach (2 Cor. 5:17-21; 1 Cor. 3:6-9; 1 Cor. 9:19-23). Since ever member is a part of the evangelism ministry of the church, we will give different levels of opportunities for everyone to be actively involved in evangelism, so no one will be left out nor have an excuse. Every group will understand its role in relationship to the evangelism ministry of the church. Everyone will be encouraged to grow in their commitment to evangelism both personally and corporately.

20. Another type of group that needs to be developed is a Missions Community (Extending). This is a small group for people seeking to become pastors, elders, missionaries, etc. This small group is similar to the Ministry community (see above), and will have specific training and more one on one training. One must have been a part of a Basic Accountability Group (BAG) before one is eligible for membership in the Missions Community. The Missions community also plans and helps others participate in Missions trips and activities.

21. The management of all ministries will be delegated to the leaders of those ministries, and accountability will
be maintained through leadership training meetings and normal disciplemaking channels.

22. We will, whenever possible, use ministries, task forces, and discipleship structures rather than boards and
committees to make decisions and do ministries. We will seek to minimize the number of our policy makers
and maximize the number of persons doing ministries.

23. The elder board, executive team/staff, church counsel, etc. (depending on the church's polity) shall be charged with the oversight of the disciplemaking process by commissioning the Ministry community where the disciplemaking leaders can be trained and equipped for ministry, writing policy, and appointing task forces. The congregation shall empower and enable the policy board to lead the church toward becoming a Disciple-Making Church

My Philosophy of Methods and Principles to Help Us Best Make Disciples
24. We will, at all times, have an intentional strategy to accomplish our purpose.

25. Disciplemaking requires intentionally. (The right things don't happen by accident)

26. We will primarily make disciples as a team, as a church, but not just as a collection of independent individuals.

27. We are committed to the principle of multiplication of ourselves by evangelizing, and discipling. equipping, and, and leadership training.

28. We are committed to the expansion of ministries by delegating ministry opportunities to those who are faithful, available, and teachable (2 Timothy 2:2).

29. We will multiply ourselves and train others using the method of apprenticeship.

30. The spiritual maturity of the Leadership is a key in the health and growth of the church. Most people will not rise beyond the spiritual maturity and discipline of their leaders. (ex. If the leaders do not witness then the people will not). For this reason, we believe that accountability within the Ministry community is essential for a disciplemaking church.

31. Disciplemaking is not a program that meets at a certain times but a process that includes everything we do

32. Loving accountability is an indispensable method in making disciples.

33. Disciplemaking is accomplished through relationships. People are not looking for a friendly church they are looking for friends.

34. We believe personal evangelism is most effective outside the church building as a way of life.

35. Evangelism / witnessing is the starting point and indispensable catalyst to all disciplemaking. (Failure to evangelize or witness is sin, and blocks our fellowship with God.)

36. Gospel focus: The gospel is the heart of Christianity and what drives my ministry. But the good news is not that God wants to meet people's felt needs or help them develop a healthier self-image. We have sinfully rebelled against our Creator and Judge. Yet He has graciously sent His Son to die the death we deserved for our sin, and He has credited Christ's acquittal to those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension. That is the good news. Gospel driven churches should not be driven by pragmatism, but a commitment to grow in a Biblical understanding of the gospel, conversion, and evangelism. The whole truth is that our deepest need is spiritual life, and that is why I present the gospel openly (calling for repentance and faith), while leaving the converting and results to God (Rom. 1:16).

37. Successful witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. Failure in witnessing is simply failing to witness. The only way to fail in evangelism is to fail to evangelize.

38. The church must be God-driven. A God-driven church is one that is God-centered, God-focused, God-exalting, and God-passionate. A God-driven church is one that seeks to do God's work, God's way, for God's glory. A God-driven church is one in which the Word of God is the plumb line, not culture; the Spirit of God is the power, not human personality; and the glory of God is its passion, not human ego. I personally value putting God at the center of all that I do. I put His glory, supremacy, and His honor first, asking in every decision, ““Will this bring the greatest glory and praise to our God?” In this sense, the pursuit of joy in God is not wrong; indeed, it is God’s command. This is why “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

39. Sound Expositional preaching and Biblical theology are the fountainhead of growth and health in the church. We believe that a commitment to hear God's Word preached expositionally shapes the agenda of the church by God's agenda in Scripture. I personally value “expository exultation,” as the Spirit-anointed preacher delights in bringing forth from Scripture the teaching that God has revealed for our good and His glory. This is preaching which expounds what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation.

40. A basic evidence of true Christian growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a life of increasing holiness, rooted in Christian self-denial.

41. We believe that many of the church's most important identity and ministries take place during the week, when the church is decentralized (or scattered). and when each member of the congregation is responsible for and participating in ministry.

42. Community-loving: We value the diversity that God created among mankind; even more, I value the unity in diversity that God creates in His church – a unity that manifests itself not only in smiles on Sunday mornings, but in an authentic community showing love, fellowship, accountability, care, and concern throughout the week as we share our lives with each other.

43. Missions-mobilizing: We value aggressive intentionality in missions and evangelism, the privilege God has given all of us of being His ambassadors, accomplishing His goal of spreading the knowledge of His glory to all the nations. I value spreading a passion for His supremacy to all peoples (Malachi 1:1): those within our culture and those without, those who live nearby and those who live on other continents. The greatest benefit to mankind can be accomplished through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the establishment of new churches that preach the Word of God and minister according to its commands, precepts, and wisdom. (Matthew 9:36-38). I want to be involved in a church that multiplies by planting other churches locally, nationally, and internationally.

44. Family-strengthening: We value building up strong marriages and families, where God’s Word is taught and lived out, where husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church, where wives respect their husbands, where the hearts of the parents are turned toward their children, and the hearts of the children toward their parents.

45. Disciple-multiplying: We value growth in Christ-likeness and holiness in every believer, as all of us become more mature disciples. Recovering true disciplemaking that leads to multiplication for today (i.e. disciplemaking-disciples) will build the church and promote a clearer witness to the world. The only way we can obey the Great Commission is by involving all the people who name Jesus Christ as their Lord in Spiritual multiplication. Disciplemaking multiplication is not in-grown but sees evangelism as the beginning and the end of the process.

46. Each member is responsible to make disciples even though our lives are crowded with other priorities.

47. We believe that the ministries of the church (what we are teaching and modeling) of the church should
support and enhance the family and family life and not hinder it.

48. We believe what a church measures (like worship attendance) drives the behavior of the church. We do not intend to count numbers for number's sake but to be careful to measure and count in order to further motivate people to a greater commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Traditional church statistics may not be the best indication of the health of the church.

49. We believe in a sovereign God that has invited us to share in His work in the world through prayer. We desire to be a praying people.

50. The emphasis of ministry is placed on the product (disciples) rather than the program(s) of the church.

51. Facilities and resources are only important as they serve to enhance the mission of making disciples. God
will provide for every genuine need. We will budget for growth.

52. We will be a church that not only reproduces disciples but also develops new disciplemaking churches in
and beyond.

53. Our responsibility to missions starts in our community and extends to the ends of the earth.

54. Our organizational structure and leadership styles will flex and change as we move through different phases of our church's life-cycle.

My Philosophy of Worship
55. God-centeredness: A high priority of the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service. The ultimate aim is
to so experience God that he is glorified in our affections.

56. Expecting the powerful presence of God: We do not just direct ourselves toward him. We earnestly seek his drawing near according to the promise of James 4:8. We believe that in worship God draws near to us in power, and makes himself known and felt for our good and for the salvation of unbelievers in the midst.

57. Bible based and Bible saturated: The content of our singing and praying and welcoming and preaching and
poetry will always conform to the truth of Scripture. The content of God's Word will be woven through all
we do in worship and will be the ground of all our appeal to authority.

58. Christ exalting: The essence of worship is valuing Christ more than all the world has to offer. Thus, I value
corporate worship that honors Him and helps us to cherish Him more and more highly through touching both the mind and the heart. Singing, praying, reading the Word, and preaching are all vital parts of such worship. Worshiping Christ is the fuel and goal of all missions and ministry.

59. Head and heart: Worship that aims at kindling and carrying deep, strong, real emotions toward God, but
does not manipulate people's emotions by failing to appeal to clear thinking about spiritual things based on shareable evidences outside ourselves.

60. Earnestness and intensity: Avoiding a trite, flippant, superficial, frivolous atmosphere, but instead setting an
example of reverence and passion and wonder.

61. Authentic communication: The utter renunciation of all sham and deceit and hypocrisy and pretense and
affectation and posturing. Not the atmosphere of artistic or oratorical performance but the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God truth.

62. The manifestation of God and the common good: We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our focus on the manifesting of God is good for people and that therefore a spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to authentic worship.

63. Undistracting excellence: We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people's attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through.

64. The mingling of historic and contemporary music: And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old" (Matt. 13:52). Music is an emotional language for many people, and culture should be a consideration in the manner of worship. In the end worship is not about style (people can sing to their favorite music), but about drawing near to God in heartfelt love, joy, and celebration of God’s character.

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