What is your ministry model, and how’s it impacting your church? As the Executive Senior Pastor of Gateway Church, leaders asked me over the years, “What is your focus in ministry; what keeps you up at night?” My first response would always be to make sure we are employing the correct model of ministry!
According to Ezekiel 44, there are 3 different modes or models for ministry—they are the Rejected, the Accepted, and the Blessed models. The model of ministry a church operates by will drastically affect its ministry impact.
The Rejected Model
“You should have been…taking care of My holy things…” (Ezekiel 44:8)
In this model, the programs are the focus and people get consumed. The thought is we’re serving God through these programs, and we must get the people needed to facilitate them. It is presumed God is pleased because He benefits by what is produced.
At one church I served, we began a groups ministry. Our focus was to develop a churchwide program to grow groups. We struggled to recruit and keep leaders because they burned out and we found the program was not sustainable. In order to keeping the program going we focused on filling positions rather than qualifying leaders.
The Accepted Model
“They shall stand before them to minister to them…they are not allowed to approach Me….” (Ezekiel 44:11,13)
In this ministry paradigm, which is most common among churches, ministry focuses on people and their needs. However, programs and church government can become political because the people are the focus. The idea is, if we take care of people God will be pleased.
Our desire is to see lives impacted through Christ, people are attracted to our services but they don’t stay. Our front door is wide open, but our back door is open too so the church doesn’t experience any lasting growth. This model appears right because people are getting attention. However, the political process prioritizes people voice more than God’s.
The Blessed Model
“The Levitical priests… they shall come near to Me to minister to Me.” (Ezekiel 44:15)
This mode of ministry puts the focus on God. With the focus on Him—the organization effort is to seek, believe, and implement His will. God’s desires drive the programs, and their results bless His people.
When ministering to God is the focus of ministry, a theocratic structure of governance emerges intent on hearing, believing, and obeying God. The work of the church is designed to please God, serve God, and facilitate what He wants. When this model is in place, God is first and people will be ministered to, cared for, equipped, and blessed because that is God’s heart. Let’s review the ministry models.
What is your ministry model? How is that model impacting your church? Are you working really hard, doing all the ministry stuff, but not seeing fruitful results? The differences in these models may seem incremental, but in God’s eyes they are absolutely critical. Your model of ministry may be out of order in an area of ministry or over the whole church. Commit your church to God’s model of ministry, put Him first, and become a healthy and growing church family?
Pastor Tom Lane oversees the Outreach Ministry of Gateway Church, including The King’s University, Gateway Global, Kingdom Business Leaders, and Gateway Church Network. He works directly with the executive team to carry out the vision and values of the church in each of these areas. During his time at Gateway, Tom has served as executive senior pastor for 12 years and the Dallas Campus pastor for 2 years before assuming his current role. Tom and his wife Jan have been married since 1972 and are blessed with four married children and 15 grandchildren.