Program Mindset vs. Ministry Mindset

In Col 4:17 the Apostle Paul says, Tell Archippus, “See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.”  I read that verse on the beginning of a walk to my office. I began to think about how this verse applies to me personally and my church team.

In a leadership podcast, Andy Stanley was talking about healthy staff team members.  They “Get Things Done, Are in the Right Position, and Work interdependently” as a team.  A staff team needs to understand the difference between a “program mindset and a ministry mindset” to evaluate the ministries of a church.   I wrote down some differences on my list but asked my staff team to contribute to our list.  Here are the results.

Program Mindset

A program mindset says that a program exists for itself.  The program is more important than the impact on people.  We have done this for 150 years, so it is good for people now. A program mindset says that a program never dies.   This kind of thinking assumes that programs exist for the leaders rather than people in the program.  Leaders in a programming mindset have fallen into a rut and even become hysterically historical about what has happened in the past.  They are past-oriented rather than being honest about what is happening in the present.  They say if we keep doing what we are doing it will get better.  The false hope or fantasy that we can continue riding a dead horse or that horses can be resurrected is the fallacy that program people fall into to resist the change that needs to happen.

With no visible results, there is no vision for the future.  Programs with this kind of thinking tend to be competitive with other ministries, ask for money regularly and develop an unhealthy inward focus which centres on a few people to the exclusion of others.  This kind of thinking leads to pride and isolation from other ministries especially those ministries that might be created out of a genuine need to make a difference in people’s lives.

Ministry Mindset

Ministry mindset churches exist for others, not for the leaders of a program or ministry.  They are flexible, fluid, can change as the ministry environment changes.  Those with a ministry mindset cooperate and partner with others.  Evaluation and feedback are welcomed.  They give away resources and are useful in training others in all aspects of discipleship.  This kind of ministry is not born out of competition or the suspicion of others within the church.  Ministry mindset churches create ministry communities that are outward focused.  While program mindsets build protective bubbles or fortresses, those with a ministry mindset break through these barriers or bubbles to have a more significant influence and impact on people. They are not afraid to bring light into dark places or risk new ways of doing the ministry.  Methods or means of doing ministry are flexible.  Our message is absolute.

I am not saying that churches should not have some internally focused programs but all programs or ministries in the church need to have substantial outreach opportunities.  Four questions that can measure the effectiveness of any given ministry area.  Are they winning the lost in this area of ministry?  Is this program building believers?  Are the leaders of this ministry equipping workers?  Lastly, are they popping, training and developing more leaders?  If the answers to these questions are negative, then you will have to make the clear call.  Some programs need to die.

Greater discipleship happens when our departments have regular outreach opportunities.  Churches need to do a few ministries well.  As a church grows, it will need to have fewer ministry focuses.  Less is more with programs that are not competing with other for staff, resources or time.  Ministries need to be active and efficient in their results that hold to the precise goals and ministry benchmarks agreed upon by the mission priorities and leadership of the church.

No ministry is more important than another nor is a ministry more spiritual than another.  For example, one group might say prayer ministry is more important than the preaching of the Word,  Worship or children’s discipleship.  Maybe you have some comments on the differences between a programming mindset and a ministry mindset.  A ministry mindset is always pursuing the mission of Christ because it is focused on people.

The staff team and the church that has a ministry mindset continue the mission priorities of Christ to make disciples of all age groups.  The Lord wants us to complete the work he wants us to do.  This might help us understand the difference between making effective ministry and those just taking up space on our church calendars.


The Perfect You – Dr Caroline Leaf

Dr Caroline Leaf’s book, The Perfect You is an in-depth blueprint to understand personal identity. When we second guess our status, value or worth as person we misunderstand the worth we have in a relationship with Jesus Christ. This book gives excellent resources to understand that each person has been given a clear purpose and identity from the Lord who created us all unique and how the Lord restores and redeems us so we can fully understand our God-given identity in Jesus Christ to fulfil our purpose, calling and mission as children of the Lord. Includes some great exercises and the unique Qualitative (UQ) assessment tool.

Compassion and Community

I heard this week, part of a CBC radio interview with a professor of religion at Duke University.  As she was interviewed, I heard again about the decline in institutional faith based organizations.  She went on to say the quote that I have often got from people. “I am not religious, but I am spiritual.”  To which I have often replied, I am not religious either but I am spiritually alive because of a life changing relationship.  That usually starts a great conversation about religion and spirituality.  If the conversation continues,  I ask more questions of the individual which allows me to talk about Jesus Christ, my life transforming relationship.   Both words: religion and spirituality in our culture are defined with selfish pursuits as their end.

As the CBC interview progressed, I did come upon some gems from the professor.  She said in her research that people are walking away from religious institutions because they are missing two key inner drivers or longings in their life: Compassion and Community. People long that these two needs be met since we are all spiritual beings as she intimated.  Individuals are not looking for dead orthodoxy, staid religious rituals or the mechanical religious forms of the past but compassion and authentic community as she explained.

The early church demonstrated both of these spiritual essentials in the book of Acts.  Take a look at Acts chapter 2 after the gospel is preached by Peter and it is received. The result is demonstrated in Acts 2:42-47.  You see these two qualities lived out as they met one another’s needs by ministering sacrificially and practically with the love of Jesus Christ. Through a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, compassion and community are the results of gospel transformation.  Without Christ centred living you will not have compassion and authentic community. Both are found in Christ.  Both are the results of knowing Christ.

Now I understand, many Christian churches are dying in North America because they have forgotten to practice these two qualities with each other and newcomers to their churches.  But like the good religious professor, they have forgotten the key person that produces compassion and community among people: Jesus Christ. There are many thousands of growing and healthy churches that do not get the media attention that are compassionate and growing in an authentic community because they are Christ-centered.

As I watch and hear the reports from the tragic hurricane that has hit Houston Texas. Compassion and Community are being carried out by thousands of people.  I am glad so many of them are people of true faith who are making a difference through Christian organizations and individual followers of Jesus. Hopefully, we can all contribute as we help our neighbours to the south rebuild.  Compassion and Community are needed in each of our lives especially in the tragedies of life.

The CBC interview missed the primary point or person necessary for these two qualities to impact people.  It is really a three point alliterated sermon.  Christ, Compassion, Community. Christ produces genuine Compassion and Community.  When Christ is the centre of our lives, Compassion and Community break out!


I hope to share the link from the interview once I find it on the search engine of

Courageous For His Mission

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I wanted to renew my blog.  I love to write and communicate practically about the mission of the Lord Jesus Christ and the type of leaders that the Lord uses to make a difference in the church and the communities they serve.  As you see in my brief bio I want to leave a legacy of Spiritual, Servant, Sacrificial, Submitted, Shepherding Leadership.  This Blog will expand on these qualities of leadership and the mission strategy of Jesus.

My training with Sonlife Ministries has embedded in my leadership the priorities and mission strategy of Jesus Christ.  The strategy is simple: Win the Lost, Build Believers, Train or Equip Workers and Develop Servant leaders for ministry and mission.  I will also be writing on key issues facing the church.  As a coach, trainer, and consultant in both business and the church, my experiences have assisted leaders and their organizations to be healthy in developing their own unique vision and effective teams to pursue their mission.

I have been used as a turn-around leader in four churches seeing them grow through multiple services, effective outreaches, healthy staff and board leadership.  I have a BTh from Tyndale University (formerly Ontario Bible College),  an MBA in leadership studies from Liberty University and I am a Ph.D. candidate at Master’s International School of Divinity.  My training has also been enhanced by the John Maxwell Team where I am a certified coach, speaker, and consultant.

If I can be of assistance to you and your organization you can contact me directly through the contact section of this blog.