simple ministryOne way that the Gospel simplifies ministry is that it reminds us that every possible ministry endeavor has a common focus: the heart.  Therefore, equipping should focus on helping people to do heart-level ministry.

In Matthew 15:18-19, Jesus tells us that it is what comes out of the heart that defiles a person. Whether the issue is parenting, finances, sex, homework, a flooded basement; or whether the issue involves  married couples, youth, children, singles, etc., etc., etc. the issue is always heart-related because the heart is always behind the choices we make. The Apostle James [in 4:1-2] agrees.

Therefore, it is futile to address most of the issues we are faced with without addressing the heart.  Yet, we miss the heart when we limit our treatment of problems to techniques and lists of dos and don’ts which deal only with outward behavior.

When the heart is addressed the result is that the outward problem often takes care of itself.  This is because the problem is often not in not knowing what to do, but in not wanting to do it—which is a heart matter.

Example: a couple is struggling with finances. They come to you for help. Since this is the third couple who has approached you recently for financial counsel, you decide that the church needs to provide instruction on how to handle finances in a biblical way. People go through the class, may actually experience some success, but still fall into the same overspending patterns. WHY? Perhaps because the heart was not addressed (only the symptoms of the heart condition were). Techniques appeal to the flesh because they can often be done in our own strength often without ever addressing the heart which requires the gospel applied by faith.

No financial system (by itself) is going to fix the idolatry that is at the heart of the desire to live beyond one’s means. Even with a great financial system, the area requiring greater attention is the heart behind the financial decisions.

The key then in ministry is to equip people to know how to minister on a heart level. If people learn how to do this, then they will be better equipped to help each other with whatever problem(s) they face. For example, consider how valuable this could be in the ministry of a head of household to those in his home?

Admittedly, there will always be those times when the leaders need to step in and help. But consider that if the fundamental goal of equipping is to minister on a heart level, then many cataclysmic problems could potentially be nipped in the bud at the garden variety level.

Do we fundamentally pursue equipping the saints with an eye towards the heart?  Do we see that equipping people, all people, for the work of ministry is not so much about specialized techniques as it is helping them discern and apply the gospel to the heart behind the behavior? This greatly simplifies ministry by equipping people to address the common denominator in life’s issues: the heart.