Having a philosophy of ministry has been compared by some to having blueprints for the construction of a building. Just as it would be a disaster to work on a building without a carefully thought out plan, it would be disastrous to a ministry to not have a philosophy of ministry.
Mark Dever writes, “It would be patently stupid to start construction on a building without first knowing what kind of building we plan to construct. An apartment complex is different from an office complex, which is different still from a restaurant. They all have different blueprints, different kinds of rooms, different materials, uses, and shapes… The same goes for building a church… It only makes sense, then, for us to revisit God’s Word to figure out what exactly He wants us to be building. Only then will we understand how to go about building it” (The Deliberate Church, 25).
Just as a church’s doctrinal statement explains what a church believes, a church’s ministry philosophy explains the practical ramifications and outworking of those beliefs. In this sense, a church’s philosophy of ministry is also her theology of ministry. What the church believes invariably will determine how its ministry is carried out.
It is essential to recognize that the church belongs to God. As such, if a church wants God to bless its ministry, the principles of its philosophy of ministry must be drawn from the clear teaching of the Word of God. Richard Mayhue writes, “Evangelicals desperately need to repent of their worldly approach to the church and return to the Scriptures. The church requires a fresh glimpse of her majestic Lord – Jesus Christ; and she needs to be re-acquainted with His revealed plan and purpose for the church as outlined in the Bible. She needs to be reminded that Christ will build His church His way” (What Would Jesus Say about Your Church? 9-10).
College Life is a ministry of Lighthouse Bible Church, so College Life’s philosophy of ministry stems from the ministry philosophy of LBC. Why is it important to have a biblical ministry philosophy? First, it provides for a consistent approach to ministry. Whether we are in our third year or our thirteenth year, collegians should be able to see a consistent approach to the way our ministry is conducted. Second, it helps evaluate a ministry’s direction. Anyone should be able to look at the different activities and programs of College Life and see clearly how these things flow out of our ministry philosophy.
What are the philosophical priorities of LBC College Life?
1. To focus our collegians on living to the glory of God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31).
What the world does not need more of are man-centered ministries with man-centered agendas. Having life in Christ means that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him (2 Cor. 5:15). In College Life, we challenge our collegians not to allow their lives to revolve around themselves but to live entirely for God’s glory regardless of circumstances or consequences.
2. To teach our collegians the truth of God’s Word (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Psalm 19:7ff.).
Scripture has been given to us by grace to teach us truths about God, ourselves, and what God requires of us. We believe that it is sufficient to instruct and guide us in everything pertaining to life and godliness so that there is no other authoritative source from which we can objectively deduce God’s will for us. It’s pretty simple really. If we want our collegians to know the one true God, they must know the God of the Bible. If we want our collegians to have a more accurate view of themselves, they must know what the Bible says about people. If we want our collegians to know how to live for God, they need to be taught the principles of Scripture. This is why our ministry is committed to a high view of God’s Word.
3. To help our collegians mature spiritually through discipleship (cf. Col. 1:28; Eph. 4:11-12).
We believe that discipleship is not just a program. It is the consistent influence of a life on a life. The College Life staff seeks to teach and lead as godly examples for our collegians to follow. Certainly we don’t pretend that we are perfect in this, but our goal is that together we would strive to live for Christ, growing in Christ-likeness and holding each other accountable in the faith.
4. To send our collegians back to their campuses as witnesses for Christ (cf. Matt. 5:14-16; 1 Pet. 2:12).
Being an on-campus college ministry gives us a particular advantage with close proximity to campus life. It would, therefore, be a huge waste for our collegians not to take advantage of the opportunities to tell others about the gospel of Jesus Christ. As a ministry, we want to provide evangelistic programs, but we encourage our collegians to make evangelism a part of their normal, everyday life.
5. To emphasize the importance of church (cf. Matt. 16:18).
Christ was passionate about His church. The apostles were passionate about the church. As such, we believe that every believer should have a healthy biblical perspective of the church. The Bible doesn’t prescribe “Lone Ranger” Christianity! Instead, all throughout the New Testament, you see believers incorporated into the local church. It is in the context of the local church that almost all the instruction of the New Testament is given. Since spiritual growth was intended primarily to be cultivated in the life of the church, we encourage all our collegians to be committed to the local church.