Back to Basics

Monday, November 16, 2020

Written by Alan Vink

Categories: Pastors Blog

Tags: Ministry Practice

Comments: 1

Dear Pastors

When my life gets to complicated and I feel a bit overwhelmed I have made a habit over the years to go back to ‘first principles’……to the basics. It has been a huge help to find true north again and thereby return to some kind of sanity. To go back to first principles is to get back to the core of an issue, to remind yourself what is fundamentally true. What is true about yourself, what is true about your current circumstances and therefore what really matters. Invariably this process will help you to re-focus.

Question. Have you discovered how easy it is in pastoral leadership to stray from your primary calling and your desired work?

I hear it said often that contemporary church life is so much more complicated than it used to be. I agree, it is. There is a world apart from 1983 when I started in my first church to what we are dealing with today. Given that we can very quickly forget what we are actually all about. It’s at times like this that we must go back to basics, back to first principles thinking.

As the Church of Jesus in the world our mission hasn’t changed in 2000 years. In its simplest form we are called to reach people with the gospel and then help them grow in their new found relationship as Christ followers. We are to become a new community. Pure, simple and basic.

So how do we do this? That’s much more challenging in so many ways. We live in a day when Christianity has become highly organised and incredibly regulated which results in a lot of energy, time and resource just keeping ‘the machine’ going. Let me offer you a few thoughts as to one way you might like to come at this.

There are five or six core ministries every local church should seek to do exceedingly well. Further I believe this is what most new people would ordinarily expect when attending a Christian church. Here they are:-

  • Preaching/teaching-Most adults still come to church to hear what God says about life and living.
  • Music-To enrich and enliven the soul. To Worship in song together.
  • Pastoral Care-The best place for people to receive Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness 24/7.
  • Small Groups-To be truly known and to truly know others.
  • Next Generation Ministries-Children and teenagers deserve our best.
  • Missions-across the street and over the seas.

And that’s it. Do these really well and I am convinced you are well on the way towards a healthy even thriving church.

Finally, it’s perhaps worth noting that in a small church a ‘small group ministry’ as such is NOT as critical. That’s because people are better connected in a small church. It’s simply easier to know everyone at church. Secondly, youth ministry tends to ‘self-select’ in a small church as teenagers head to the happening youth ministry across town rightly or wrongly. But that is a whole other subject which I will tackle next week.



Alan Vink is currently the Executive Director for LeadershipWorx. Prior to this role he has been the Executive Director of Willow Creek Association NZ (WillowNZ), a Baptist pastor (23 years), Bible College teacher, and church consultant.

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