Long ago the wise man said there is no end to the making of books. Much has been written, more will be written. Books concerning church ministry abound in our world. Articles on the subject appear regularly. Nor will this article be the final word. By its very nature, ministry is alive and dynamic and flexible in addressing the needs of our world with the unchanging gospel message. How shall ministry be evaluated? May I suggest four things churches want to know about the man who will live among them, regularly ministering the word of God in preaching and teaching. (While I have not cited specific scripture, these concepts are firmly rooted in the instructions Paul gave to the young evangelist, Timothy.)
1. Are you serious about ministry? Is ministry something you want to do, or is it just a job? Why do you preach? Do you preach because you cannot do anything else? Are you serious enough to stick with it, or will you quit the first time troubled waters must be navigated? Are you sincere? Will you be a person of integrity as you minister to us and among us? Do you possess a personal faith so that you can lead us through the spiritual "dry times?"
2. Do you really care? Do you care about us? Do you care about our community? Will you love us, accept us, forgive us, have grace for us? Or will you look down on us? Will you use us for your own agenda? Are we only another rung on a ladder you are climbing? Will you be sensitive to us and minister to us what we need instead of pursuing your own personal agenda?
3. Are you competent? Do you know what you are doing in ministry? Can you preach? Can you teach? Are you capable of doing what you have been called here to do? What gifts do you have? Are you a competent counselor? Do you know how to do your job?
4. Will you work at it? Will ministry to us be your job or your hobby? Will you be diligent, studious, and dependable? Are you ready to be a genuine servant? Will you work or will you dawdle? Will you be on the job or running around pursuing personal interests?
I realize I have not given answers, but I hope in raising important questions that churches and preachers will find their own answers, that our ministries in and among the churches will be more effective and powerful, and that God will be glorified in the proclaiming of his Word, both in the message which is of God and the messenger who is God's.
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