“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” – Matthew 23:12
How many different kinds of trees are there? Just humor me a bit. How many trees? You’ve got oak trees, willow trees, maple, pine, Christmas (that counts, right?). A quick Google search will show you there are more than 60,000 types of trees! But why are there so many different kinds?
When you look at all the different types of trees — and the rest of creation for that matter — it’s apparent that God must like variety. In the same way, there are a lot of different kinds of churches, too. So as Christians, if we want to stay in God’s favor, never be misguided into justifying that your way is the “only way,” the “best way,” or the “right way.”
Let me explain what I mean by this. When it comes to ministry, we all have a way. We don’t have the only way. We’re learning and growing and trying to figure things out just like any other church. Whether it’s how we do small group ministry or discipleship ministry, I’m not going to say we have found the right way and your way is wrong. Certainly, we’ve chosen a way to do it, but it’s not the only way.
So how do we choose the way we do ministry?
Let me peel back the curtain a little bit of how our church works by defining three words for you: theology, philosophy, and methodology. These words define the “why,” the “how,” and the “what,” respectively.
At the church I pastor, we start with theology. In other words, we look at the Bible and what it has to say about God and the mission of the Church. This answers the question, “Why?” For example, “Why make disciples?” Well, we believe that Jesus calls us to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).
Then that leads us to our ministry philosophy. Our philosophy answers the question, “How?” Churches differ on this, and that’s okay. If our theology tells us we’re called to make disciples, then our philosophy has been that it needs to be done in relationship.
Lastly, we look at methodology. This is “what” we actually practice based on our theology and philosophy. There is no one way to do things, and I’ve seen God-honoring ministries of all shapes and sizes with different methodologies flourish. To continue the example, we drive discipleship through our small group ministry, but that’s not the only way to do it.
At the end of the day, I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:12 when he says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” This is a good reminder for all of us regardless of your life stage or line of work. Don’t assume you have it all right. Stay humble and make glorifying God your main goal.