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A Unified Philosophy

>> 9.25.2011

I was thinking this past week about the original idea of starting this blog, and I feel a bit like I've gotten lost along the way=)  Never mind, though, as it's all a part of our family and what we are going through.  However, I did have a few ministry thoughts floating around in my mind recently that I thought might be worth sharing. 

When my husband and I last did the "candidating thing" almost ten years ago now (WOW! Could it have been that long ago?!), we didn't have children.  Our questions were different, our answers we looked for were different, and our observations were also very different from our most recent experience. We asked certain questions this time and made certain observations and were obviously pleased with all of the responses, but since moving we've made a few more and I wanted to pass on our lessons learned with anyone who might be in the "same boat" at some point in the future.  The best place to start with this process, I think, is talking about something I'll title "Philosophy of Ministry: His, Hers, & Ours"

Philosophy of Ministry Defined (According to Ma-wah!=)
Jason and I knew going into this new position our personal and familial philosophy of ministry. (If you're not familiar with this terminology you probably haven't done that yet! No worries, if you aren't in ministry yet, great-- you've got time! If you are...um, make a date ASAP and talk this over!) Philosophy of ministry can be defined a couple of ways, but for us mainly means "why we do what we do in ministry" -- our driving beliefs that shape our everyday actions and decisions.

A Unified Philosophy
Having a unified philiosophy of ministry will aleviate so.much.frustration. in a ministry marriage (or highly involved lay ministry marriage) and is necessary for unified familial decision making.  (To see our philosophy click here.)  Coming to this unified philosophy has been done through initial pre-marital discussions about our upbringing and expectations of church life and home life, trial and error during marriage, and some reading and class discussion done along the way.  Some important questions to answer in this area (especially if you have children or are thinking about having them sometime in the future) are:

  • How did you see ministry played out in your upbringing-- how much time was devoted in your home to serving God specifically through various church-related activities (as this will most shape your attitude towards your husband's ministry job).
  • What did you like about your up-bringing, what did you not like about that involvement?  How do these observations about these questions make you feel? 
  • Ideally, how would you like to see ministry-related activities affect the home?  (i.e. "it's your job, don't bring it home," "I'll come too and maybe teach once in awhile," "I'm all in!  Where can I serve with you?!  What?! A call at mid-night-- well, OF COURSE you'd better answer it!")
  • Ideally, how would your husband like to see ministry-related activities affect the home?
  • Do you have other outside responsibilities that may take away time from your avilability?
  • If you have children: how do you want them to see God/church/service?  What might that mean for them at the various stages of growing up. (i.e., it's okay with you, mommy, to take little 1 yr. old Timothy out to the church-wide famiy movie night even though it'll mess his next day schedule up -- OR -- NO WAY! Little Timothy and I are staying home!  No questions about it, dad!)
  • Children's involvement: will they be expected to attend everything whenever the doors are open, or, do you never want them to feel expected to do anything at all?!?
Really, the list could go on and on...everyday I am faced in my home with decisions that are related to ministry-- and my responses to those decisions will come from my philosophy of ministry.  My husband can be confident that when he has to make a last minute decision about a ministry need without my input (and I stress "need"),  since we've talked at length about our philosophy, that I will be supportive of his decision.  That aleviates his concern that I might be unahappy with him when he tells me of his decision-- which sometimes may be after the fact and have caused some iconvenience to me or the kids.

As you are talking all these questions over, please don't forget to seek out what GOD has to say in His Word about ministry.  Full-time vocational ministry, after all, is choosing to serve God and His kingdom as a way to support your family while on this earth.  This allows you more flexibilty and time to devote to those in your communities and congregations, and allows you more time to be in His Word, as described by Paul numerous places in his Epistles. (One that comes to mind is 2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." NIV)  After serving several years in "part-time ministry" (aka, working a secular job and trying to rightly full-fill the needs of a full-time congregation), we came to a personal decision that is wasn't feasible for us.  There really is no way to devote the necessary amount of time to people and spending time in God's Word in order to "correctly handle the word" if you have the concerns of spending 40-50 other hours of your week to a "regular" job.  For this very reason, Paul affirms the position of full-time ministry laborers when he says, "...the Lord has connanded that those who preach teh gospel should receive their living from the gospel." (I Cor. 9:14  -- for fuller context, click here.)


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