Westgate Baptist Church Philosophy of Ministry
1) A High View of God (A Biblical Understanding of God & Thus Worship)
•God is holy, righteous & just (and other perfections) (Ex. 34:6-8; Is. 6:1-3; Jer. 9:24; Rom. 11:33-36; Rev. 4:8-11)
•We then must be holy (1 Pet. 1:14-16)
•A failure to have a high view of God leads to: (1) a toleration of sin; (2) a focus on man’s self-evaluation rather than God’s truth; (3) the church reflects a man-centered ministry that attempts to please peers rather than glorify God (i.e. an unwillingness to practice church discipline when mandated by God’s Word [Mt. 18]; a lack of reverence for the character of God; a willingness to compromise truth to grow the church; please people; and maintain the status quo)
•A COMMITMENT TO A HIGH VIEW OF GOD, LEADS US TO VIEW HIS WORD AS THE SOLE & SUPREME AUTHORITY & THE PERFECT GIUDE FOR OUR LIVES.
2) A High View of Scripture
•The Word of God & the Word of God alone is fully inspired (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:16-21), inerrant (Ps. 119:60; Jn. 17:17), infallible (Ps. 12:6; 19:7-9), authoritative (Mt. 5:18-20; Jn. 10:35), and sufficient for everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4); and thus it is binding upon the life and conscience of every individual and the sole and supreme rule of faith and practice for Christ’s church & Christ’s people!
•Inspiration: “God-breathed” (Verbal & plenary inspiration) (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:16-21; Mt. 5:18)
•Inerrancy: it contains no errors. God conveyed divine truth to divinely chosen individuals (Ps. 19:7-14)
•Infallibility: The Word of God is completely trustworthy, reliable and faithful (Ps. 19:7-9; Prov. 30:5-6)
•Authority: Simply stated: Whatever the Word says I must do (Mt. 5:18-20). If we are to have a biblical philosophy of ministry, it must seek its sole authority from the Word of God. “Jesus said, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). If we are fed by every word that comes out of the mouth of God, we ought to study every word.
•Sufficiency: A belief in the sufficiency of Scripture prohibits any attempt to integrate it with psychology or worldly philosophies ( Ps. 19:7-14; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4; Col. 2:8ff; 1 Thes. 2:13; Heb. 4:12)
•Relevancy: It is totally relevant for every situation (Ps. 19:7-14; Ps. 119:105, 130; 2 Tim. 3:17; Is. 40:8).
It may not give us an explicit answer to every specific problem, but it will always give us the principles by which we can, through obedience, glorify God!
•A failure to recognize the sufficiency and superiority of the Word leads to: (1) pursuit of comfort, rather than obedience; (2) personal experience as your authority rather than the authority of God’s Word; (3) contemporary thinking as your guide for living rather than the principles of divine truth; (4) the church's production of people who pursue their own desires based upon an ungodly standard
•A COMMITMENT TO THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE WORD IS THE BASIS OF A BIBLICAL VIEW OF MANKIND.
3) An Accurate (Low) View of Man
•Mankind is totally depraved.
On his own he cannot do good (Rom. 3:10-18); his heart is deceitfully wicked (Jer. 17:9-10); his goal in life is selfishness and only evil continually (Gen. 6:5)
•Man was created to glorify God, but because of sin, he seeks to glorify himself (Rom. 3:23).
•A sinner is alienated from God, and as a result, he will seek fulfillment from the world’s evil system (1 Jn. 2:15-17). The implications are frightening: (1) Christ will not be seen as the only solution to man’s needs; (2) we will try to provide substitutes that promise fulfillment; (3) we will tend to only address “felt” needs rather than “real” needs. The result will be that the church produces people who make choices to solve their life’s problems based on what they believe will practically meet their perceived needs.
•AN ACCURATE VIEW OF MAN HELPS US TO UNDERSTAND THE DESIGN OF GOD IN THE BUILDING OF HIS CHURCH.
4) A Right Understanding of the Church & its Purpose
•The church exists to worship and glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 3:10, 21; Heb. 13:15)
•The church exists to be a repository of divine truth (1 Tim. 3:15).
•The church exists to provide a context of loving fellowship with one another for the purpose of mutual edification (Eph. 3:16-19; 4:12-16).
•The church exists as a training center whereby people can grow through the application of teaching and the utilization of their spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12:6-8; Eph. 4:1-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
•The church exists to be a light in this dark world, for the evangelization of God’s elect (Mt. 5:13-16; 28:19-20; Titus 2:11-15).
•A failure to correctly understand the purpose of the church leads to superficial and counterfeit ministry, resulting in disunity, where “program success” is glorified rather than God. People become passive spectators rather than active participants. Leadership is forced to keep all the programs running. Then, the church becomes an organization, run by men and programs, rather than an organism of committed believers empowered by the Spirit of God.
•The ministry structure is to revolve around building character into the lives of God’s people NOT around maintaining programs; people need to be equipped and motivated to exercise their spiritual giftedness for the building up of the Body (Eph. 4:11-16).
•A CORRECT PERCEPTION OF THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH HELPS US TO CORRECTLY UNDERSTAND BIBLICAL LEADERSHIP.
5) A Biblical View of Leadership
•Leaders must model the character of Christ for the flock (Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Thes. 2:4-12; 1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
•Leaders must adequately equip their people to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 3:20; 4:12).
•Leaders must provide ample opportunity for them to do this work (Heb. 10:24-25).
-A failure to correctly understand biblical leadership leads to unbiblical discipleship and skewed ministry priorities.
-A lack of biblical priorities leads to ministry in sin with a focus on skills or ability rather than godly character. This will inevitably lead to disqualifying sins.
-Lack of adequate equipping for the task leads to frustration, which can produce a high turnover of lay leadership.
-Lack of adequate equipping leads to the failure to reproduce oneself in ministry, which results in the few “faithful” doing all the work.
HOW DO THESE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION STONES IMPACT OUR MINISTRY STRATEGY?
A. They Establish Our Duty toward God (To Exalt God in Worship & to Entrust Ourselves to Him as Living Sacrifices)
1. Scripture calls all believers to proclaim God’s glory in worship (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 4-5)
a. Worship is one of the defining characteristics of believers (Phil. 3:3)
b. Worship is the overflow of being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18–20)
�� Though primary emphasis in Scripture is on a right heart in worship, the form of worship is also significant.
�� The form of worship must provide channels to enable the believer to:
• Grasp the truth of God’s Word
• Ignite a passion for God
• Respond to the truths taught
2. Scripture calls all believers to present ourselves in worship (Rom. 12:1)
a. Through a radical renunciation of the lifestyle of the world (Rom. 12:2a)
b. Through a rigorous & recurrent renewal of our mind with the truth of God’s Word (Rom. 12:2b)
�� This requires that our ministry strategy must be committed to spurring on the flock in this direction!
B. They Establish Our Duty toward the Saints (To Edify & Equip the Saints)
1. To Edify the Saints
Imperative: note that every believer has been called to full-time ministry!
a. Exercising the “one-anothers” of Scripture
b. Exercising one’s spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:7, 11; 1 Pet. 4:10)
�� to serve (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Pet. 4:10)
�� to strengthen (edify) the church (1 Cor. 14:12, 26)
2. To Equip the Saints
Imperative: church leaders must equip every believer for ministry!
a. Through teaching the Word towards knowledge (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
b. Through discipling the Word towards obedience (Mt. 28:19-20; Jas. 1:25)
c. Through modeling the Word towards reproduction (Luke 6:40; 1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:7; 1 Pet. 5:3).
�� “Reproduction” in terms of faithfulness (1 Tim. 2:2)
�� “Reproduction” in terms of future leaders (1 Tim. 2:2)
• Incorporate leadership training at every level—both active (formal) and passive (modeling)
C. They Establish Our Duty toward Unbelievers (To Evangelize & Discipilize)
1. To Evangelize through our Life (i.e. Through our Faithful Practice of God’s Word) (Visually)
• Godly lives testify of Christ’s redemptive work (Tit. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:11-12; 3:1-2; Mt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15).
2. To Evangelize through our Lips (i.e. Through our Faithful Proclamation of God’s Word) (Verbally)
• His Word is the ordained means (Rom. 10:17; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23)
• His saints are the ordained messengers (Mt. 28:19-20; Rom. 10:14; 2 Cor. 5:19-20)
• His glory & the salvation of His elect are the ordained goals (2 Cor. 4:15; Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; 1 Pet. 2:9-10)
-The goal of our evangelism is to the glorify of God by making disciples and planting & establishing God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, bible-expositing churches among all the peoples of the earth (the goal is not getting people to make shallow, superficial, short-lived decisions; i.e. false converts through a watered-down gospel or a manipulative message or method; but rather its faithfully heralding the Word & trusting God to sovereignly save & sanctify His elect as we shepherd them towards Christ-like holiness & maturity) (Mt. 28:18-20; Lk. 9:23-26; 14:25-35; Rom. 15:14-33; 2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Thes. 2:4-6; Col. 1:28-29).