3 Layers of Ministry

Fairly, or unfairly, people are typically judged by three things. Who they are. (Their core values and foundational beliefs.) What they do. (Their productivity.) And what they look like. (Their external appearance.) Linus Morris, in his book The High Impact Church, compares these three areas to an apple. In his analogy, an apple has three parts. The core, the substance, and the skin. The apple core is the inner-most, life-giving part of the fruit. Everything else emanates from it. The substance, or flesh of the apple, is the fruit you consume and enjoy. Finally, the skin is the exterior layer of protection that people see.

skin flesh core JPEG

The same can be said of a person, a ministry, or a church. The internal core is the life-giving essence. The flesh is what is consumed, or the output. And the outer peel is what it looks like. All three are important and it’s good to consider how much emphasis each deserves.

1 Samuel 16:7 says “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

It’s clear that the heart is very important. But so is the outcome of a church’s ministry and how things look. But that verse does not say people don’t look at the outer appearance. On the contrary, it says they do! Church leaders would do well to contemplate the importance of each of these three aspects of ministry, so let’s consider each individually.

Core
The core of a church is its spiritual dimension. It’s the life-giving component that makes the church different from other organizations. A church’s theological foundation, its values, purpose and mission need to be solid for it to be effective for the kingdom of God.  

We’ve seen tragic examples of churches, ministries, and Christian leaders with bad cores. Consider Rev. Jim Jones and the massacre in Jonestown, Guyana in 1979. Tragic consequences overtook a large group of people due to the bad theological, ideological, and emotional core of a church and its leader.

Contrast that to a person in ministry with a healthy core. This person loves Jesus, has solid theology, and a good heart. She is humble and in ministry for the right reasons. Remember, the core of a person affects everything that person does. Its importance cannot be underestimated.

Substance
The substance of a church is the ministry it does. Just as people eat the flesh of an apple, people consume the flesh of a ministry. In the children’s ministry, for example, the flesh is the programming and its impact on the children. In the music ministry, the flesh is the music that’s played and the worship it inspires.
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Jesus’ Volunteer Strategy

Most church leaders know the importance of utilizing quality volunteers in their ministry. Let’s face it, ministry just won’t happen without a passionate group of selfless servants willing to roll up their sleeves and do the tough work of ministry. I once heard a Christian leader address a group of pastors and tell them that if they were doing their ministry, they weren’t doing their jobs. Their main job, he said, was to raise up other leaders.

The Apostle Paul thought so. In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul told the church at Ephesus that church leaders are to prepare God’s people for works of service. Jesus thought so too. In fact, Jesus used a very simple approach to find, train, equip and release volunteers into ministry that changed the world. Let me introduce you to this 5 step model.

Identify rising stars
When Jesus was looking for his key volunteer group, the Apostle Mark records, “As Jesus walked,…he saw…” (Mark 1:16 NIV). As you walk, start seeing people. Always have your radar up to identify rising stars. Look for FAT people. Faithful. Available. Teachable. Look for people with the right heart. Skills can be taught later. But a positive attitude, a genuine heart, and a monster work ethic are crucial qualities to look for in great volunteers.

VolunteerTeam1Invite them to join you
Jesus never said, “I want you to volunteer in my organization.” He said, “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17 NIV). Jesus’ approach was relational. His invitation was personal. His mission was essential. So invite people to join you in ministry. People will follow a leader long before they join an organization, so a personal invitation to join you will go a long way. No one responds well to “We need your help.” But there’s real power in “Join me. Let’s do this together!”

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