Hang onto your polyester shirts and high-grad pocket protectors Sets’N’Service is about to have a brief foray with the genre of leadership literature. These keys have been presumptions of mine in my first six months of pastoring several ministry areas as I have sought to create and implement again and again ministry modules that will impact our community’s life.

1st Key: Know the Biblical-Theological nature of the ministry need inside and out.

Passing over the biblical narrative in order to jump to the practical and immediate needs of the situation is a constant temptation pastors and missional Christians face. While certainly contextual, biblical-theological labor in the scriptures is not a replacement for keen observations in people’s lives and situations; silencing such a conversation partner in order to answer needs quickly is a fatal mistake. Leading and launching successful ministry modules starts by assessing the very needs you’re facing with a sound biblical-theological undergirding. Seeking God’s wisdom and the testimony of his covenant people’s story which stretches from the beginning of Genesis up to this very day ought to be a non-negotiable for all of us.

2nd Key: Seek the wisdom and advice of the Trend-Setters outside your midst.

Pride, there it is again, starring back at you in the mirror. Its either hurt pride at the sign of success in your brothers or sisters ministry or its over-cooked pride brought on by the narrow comparison you’ve placed your ministry next to in order to be able to boast in your successes. After seeking out the biblical-theological nature of the needs your ministry module is being created to adress the next best place for you turn to is spiritual discipline of humility. A humility expressed in the first place by you seeking out the advice, conceptions, and warnings of those men and women in the church who are the trend-setters in this area of development. I find often that the big picture questions I’m having to contend with have already been raised by others ministering to this need or area of ministry I’m laboring on. If I can’t find them within my community, I just need to get out of my community’s box – be that my local church, or denomination, or theological tradition – and seek the answers the Spirit has proved in the broader church. In a simple phrase: humility leads us to catholicity which in turn leads us to seeking the wisdom of the trend-settters outside our own midst.

3rd Key: Listen to the interpretations and insights of the Pace-Leaders in your own midst.

But not only should you and I consider the advice and concepts of the trend-setters outside us, we should also carefully listen to the interpretations and insights of the pace-leaders in our own midst. The men and women who have been in a very Spirit-lead fashion shepherding and ministering to the needs we’re seeking to address. They’ve already been doing the delicate/difficult work of exegeting the local church community and her surrounding cultures, and have been in a missionally-sensitive manner, offering up timely and relevant answers to those cultures and needs. In the end your module will have to partake of the strength that comes only from shared labors. Listening to these pace-leaders will breed mutality and shared stories; which in turn will find you moving down an adventureous road together rather than doing your own thing in the narrow roads of fallen humanity.

4th Key: Lead as a Team-Member rather than an individual.

Following closely on the heals of the above key is the matter of making decisions and implimentations as a Team-Member rather than an individual. Launching a successful ministry module will require you to not only have a vision and strategy of the ministry module, but will also mean that you’ve aligned it both conceptionally and inter-personally with the other leaders vision and strategy in your community. There should be a shared ownership of the module between you and the other pace-leaders where you can together enter the bold new horizon of sacrificial living and giving of yourselves without the isolationist fears of failing alone or apart from others who care for you.

5th Key: Watch and assess the Transforming-Impact your module is having in people’s lives.

Lastly, you must never forget that the merger of business intuition and ethic with pastoral care and compassion is focused in the final say upon changed lives. People moving from self-worship to worshiping in Spirit and in Truth by the grace and provisions of Christ. Watching and assessing what happens in people’s lives as they are engaged with the module you’ve constructed and are leading will help you understand whether the biblical-theological diagnosis you gave initially was sound, as well as what may need to change to better imprint their lives with the cruciformity that Paul himself was imprinted with by Christ.

(Photographic art by Drkangeltex’s, piece entitled “Geek Patrol“)