Is the ministry you lead or participate in following Jesus’ model for ministry? The model Jesus offers us is laid out in chapters 5-10 of the gospel of Matthew. This model is applicable to any type of ministry – a women’s ministry, a food pantry ministry, a church, a music ministry, a teaching ministry, a children’s ministry, a mission organization, a crisis ministry, a new church start, a nursing home ministry, any type of ministry. Whether you are starting a ministry or you are a seasoned minister, the model demonstrated by Jesus leads to the discovery of 3 essential questions to see where you can focus your efforts to help your ministry follow Jesus’ model.
The Jesus Model for Ministry
In Matthew 5-10, the gospel writer condenses many of Jesus’ sermons, encounters with people, and training of the disciples into a pattern that is applicable to our ministries today. I am working on a book and online course that will give the details of this, but for now, I’ll give you a broad overview that you can start to pray through and apply to your own life and ministry. (I would love your feedback and others’ if you’d share this blog post with your friends.)
Jesus Delivered His Message
Matthew 5-7 is what has come to be known as the Sermon on the Mount. This is where you’ll find the Beatitudes. If you have a red-letter Bible showing the words of Christ in red, these three chapters are almost solid “red-letter Jesus.” The gospel writer is showing us how important Jesus’ teaching was. He spent a lot of time talking to people about the meaning of the kingdom of God and how those who choose to follow him should behave.
Based on Matthew 5-7, you need to ask: “Who are we teaching people to be?” The teaching aspect of any ministry is vital, but it is not the whole picture. The content of the teaching must be biblically based or align with scripture and must be applicable to people’s everyday lives. The purpose of the teaching is not just to increase head knowledge; the purpose of the teaching is to change attitudes and actions. And those who do the teaching must be striving to be a living example of what they teach.
Jesus Demonstrated His Method
Matthew 8-9 is one of the most practical passages in scripture, in my opinion, because we get to watch Jesus at work with individuals and groups. This is the laboratory for Jesus’ disciples. They are present with Jesus when he encounters every type of barrier and get to watch how he overcomes it. Jesus was able to show how his teachings (see Matthew 5-7) can be applied to religious, gender, and political barriers, how his power can defeat disease, natural phenomenon, and the forces of evil, and how his love and mercy is stronger than any label created by the pious or pretentious.
Based on Matthew 8-9, you need to ask: “What are we training people to do?” In addition to great Bible-based teaching, the learners must have hands-on involvement led by the teacher. If there is no real-life application of the biblical message, there is no ministry. Mentoring others to carry on what you’ve started is absolutely necessary.
Jesus Delegated His Ministry
Matthew 10 is the final exam administered by Jesus. He called his novice disciples to him and gave them authority to do the same things he was able to do. Then, Jesus sent them out with instructions. Jesus, the King of the universe and the Creator of that group of disciples huddled around him, actually entrusted that motley crew with the ability to go out and change the world. He didn’t go with them (not physically). He sent them out on their own. And the result? Well, while the church is still growing more than two millennia after he delegated his ministry to them, there is still plenty of work for us to do.
Based on Matthew 10, you need to ask: “Where are we expecting people to go?” This is the final exam for any ministry and it’s a test on multiplication. If the learners have been equipped with solid biblical teaching, have had opportunities to participate with the teacher in hands-on activities of trial and error, then the next step is for the teacher to expect the learners to go out and repeat the process. Without this step, our ministry does not live up to Jesus’ model.
The 3 Essential Questions
Who are we teaching people to be?
What are we training people to do?
Where are we expecting people to go?
These three questions challenge my comfort level! Am I asking these questions of my own work and ministry? These questions remind me that I must be intentional about mentoring others in the things God has called me to: Bible teaching, leadership, writing, speaking, and evangelism. How about you? Which question challenges you or your group the most?
I’d love to hear from you. Click on the Comments to let me know your thoughts about this model for ministry.