A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 1: Priorities for the Local Church -- By: Raymond C. Ortlund

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 138:549 (Jan 1981)
Article: A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry Part 1: Priorities for the Local Church
Author: Raymond C. Ortlund


A Biblical Philosophy of Ministry
Part 1:
Priorities for the Local Church

Raymond C. Ortlund

[Raymond C. Ortlund, Pastor, Mariners Church, Newport Beach, California]

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of four articles delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, November 4–7, 1980.]

Peter Drucker, management expert, has consulted with many churches and Christian organizations. He says the first question he always asks them is this: “What are you trying to accomplish?” And often he finds that they are in a crisis of objectives, not a crisis of organization.1

The problem most churches face is not that they do not do anything; they do plenty. The problem is that they are not doing the right things.

A pilot announced to his passengers over his intercom system, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we have a tail wind, and we are making excellent time. The bad news is that our compass is broken, and we have no idea where we are going.” A similar situation is true of many churches.

The issue is not that God’s promises to the church are inadequate. Dods expands on God’s statement, “I am the Almighty God,” with these words:

I am the Almighty God able to fulfill your highest hopes and accomplish for you the brightest ideal that ever My words set before you. There is no need for paring down the promise until it squares with human probabilities, no need of adopting some interpretation of it which may make it seem easier to fulfill, and no need of striving to fulfill it in any second-rate way. All possibility lies in this: I am the Almighty God.2

God’s promises to His church are vast. The church is equipped with the power to fulfill every objective God has for it.

Certainly its expectation should be to accomplish every goal carved out by God.

Spurgeon said to a young preacher, “Young man, you don’t really expect to see high and wonderful things happen in your life, do you?” The fellow said, “Well, no….” And Spurgeon almost exploded, “Then you won’t see them happen, either!”

Genuine expectation is part of the key. But for the church today perhaps a problem greater than low expectation is simply not knowing what its goals should be.

Biblical Priorities

What should be a church’s biblical priorities? What should its overall objectives include?

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