When I talk about effective ministry I like to refer to Romans 15 which gives us a look into what Paul’s ministry looked like. No one would argue that Paul was very successful in ministry and I believe there is a lot we can learn from Him. The key words that we find in Romans 15 are the words “minister” and “service” and if you read through this passage you’ll find that Paul had two different types of ministries. A ministry to unbelievers and a ministry to believers. His ministry to unbelievers is was to share the good news. He says, “My mission in life is to share the good news with as many people as possible.” Specifically it was to share it with the Gentiles. He also then had a ministry to believers. He tells us his ministry was to meet the needs of believers.
As believers on mission just like Paul we also have two different set of people that we minister too. Because of this I took some time studying this passage and have come up with seven keys that I believe are necessary for effective ministry.
- An effective ministry is based on God’s grace.
The first thing you have to realize is that you don’t deserve to be in the ministry. I don’t deserve to be a Christian, much less be in the ministry. I don’t deserve forgiveness, much less to be able to be used by God. That’s an extra, added privilege. Constantly, I need to remind myself, God is using me in this place of service simply because of His grace.
When you enter prison to minister, the inmates often can get a good sense what you believe about yourself and it often affects your testimony with them. Make sure my friend to remain humble and remember that you are not any greater than the men and women you are ministering to. Everything God does in your life, through your life, for your life He does by grace through faith. We are all on the road as maturing Christians. We’re not matured Christians. We’re maturing Christians. While we’re growing, we’re giving. While we’re growing, we’re serving. That’s the goal – grace.
- An effective ministry is built on God’s word.
Paul says in Romans 15, “I have the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God.” What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news of Jesus which is found in God’s written Word the Bible. This doesn’t mean that the only thing you can do in ministry is preaching and Bible studies. But it means that whatever you do should be built on God’s word. I have found that while serving inside of prison that sometimes more effective than just doing Bible studies are doing classes that address the issues that these men and women face. When in doing that make sure these classes are still built on God’s Word and not contrary to it.
- An effective ministry is done for Gods glory.
It’s not built to promote a personality. Paul wanted people to be more impressed with God than he wanted people to be impressed with himself. “Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God. I will not speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” He says God did it through me. He serves in the ministry for the glory of God.
This is one of the things that really concerns me. I have encountered many who believe that they are super stars in ministry. They take great pleasure in sharing of all that they have accomplished in ministry rather than acknowledging that the accomplishment was actually the work of God. It’s very important that we realize that God does things through people. You may be gifted in a certain area and God is using that gift to accomplish His mission. Remember your gift is greater than you my friend!
- An effective ministry is performed in God’s power.
In Romans 15 Paul says, “By the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit, I fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.” In John 15:5 Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. But apart from Me you can do nothing.” If you are not preparing yourself spiritually for the ministry that you’re in, then I would encourage you to do so. Every solider before he goes to the war zone has to prepare himself for combat. He will not and cannot be effective in battle if he is not prepared. So many I fear go into prison with last week’s sermon or an excerpt from a recent book that they read and spend little to no time to prepare for their chapel service or class. That is why so often these men feel unconnected with the teacher because the issues they face are never addressed. They feel as if they are not important enough to the teacher in order for him to study. Friends, don’t just do ministry in the power of your own personality. Always be mindful that your spiritual health is important, you will not be affective if you are unplugged from your power source whom is God. On my strength alone, I cannot do ministry. But on God’s strength “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
- An effective ministry is planned according to God’s purpose.
Paul says, “It’s always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known. But now there is no more place for me to work in these regions. I plan to do so when I go to Spain.” Notice that Paul made plans.
Some of you may think you should just get up in the morning and say, “Lord, what do You want me to do today?” and kind of free-float through life. I have often heard this from men who are given the opportunity to share at a Chapel service. Often they will refer to scriptures that speak on the leading of the Holy Spirit. While some of that may is good we can see here in Romans 15 that Paul chose to still prepare. I believe life’s too important to go without a plan. I think we need to be strategic. If you read the book of Acts, Paul had a very clear strategy. His strategy was to go to the key cities in the Roman Empire and all the places he went — Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Colosse, all these major places were all trade centers, travel centers, crossroads in the Roman Empire. He said I know I can’t get everywhere so I’m going to go to the most strategic places I can and spread the Gospel there.
God has given me a tremendous privilege of being allowed to spend my work week inside of prison and in order to be the most effective that I can be I need to plan my days. I need to be strategic in where and who I spend my time with. Ministry is demanding and lots of things and people want your attention so not planning is devastating. When preparing a message I need to think through who I am trying to reach and what illustrations I may need to use in order for the audience to relate to what I’m saying.
- An effective ministry is backed by prayer.
Prayer is one of the most essential keys to effective ministry. In fact I believe it so important that you should do nothing without first going to prayer. Without consistent prayer, we have no direction or hope. If we are not praying, how can we be sure that we are following God’s path? How can we face our challenges? How can we receive God’s provision?
Working on your ministry is exciting as well as time consuming. As much as you want to spend time in prayer, it’s almost never enough. This is why having an intentional and activated prayer strategy, with an engaged prayer team, is critical. Your ministry must be covered by prayer if it is to be effective and protected from attack.
I believe there is more I can add to each one of these keys but I think you get where I’m going with this and will grasp that ministry is not about ourselves but about God. You are where you are at today because of God’s grace and that in itself should compel you to serve Him humbly!