Church: Ministry Foundations

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This is part one of a three-part curriculum designed for equipping church workers and leaders. Click here for part 2 and here for part 3.

An important aspect of equipping others for ministry is helping them share in Jesus’ kingdom heart–his “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). This sharing is directly related to a minister’s spiritual formation, which we find is most effectively facilitated by providing nurturing environments that help them experience Jesus’ transforming love and life.

Ministry Foundations Character Attributes
GOD’S LOVE Grace-based
GOD’S PERSON Christ-centered
GOD’S STORY Word-directed
GOD’S WILL Spirit-formed
GOD’S PEOPLE Fellowship-building



It is our experience that these nurturing environments have defining characteristics that we call Ministry Foundations. Each foundation then corresponds to one of Jesus’ own Character Attributes. This correspondence is illustrated in the table at right, where the links jump to the related text below. Each section of the text addresses three key issues:

  • Leader commitments: Core commitments necessary for pastors and other leaders to be effective in helping those they are discipling grow in Christ’s character.
  • Environmental characteristics: The defining characteristics of environments that are conducive to the development of the specific character attribute. One of the roles of leaders is to see that these characteristics are consistently present.
  • Equipping toolbox: This section recommends resources that leaders and their protégés can use to enhance growth in the noted attribute of Christ’s character.

GOD’S LOVE → Grace-based 

Grace-basedAs a developing disciple of Jesus experiences an atmosphere that is expressive of God’s love, they increasingly relate to God on the basis of his grace (acceptance and provision) in Christ. This produces within them a heart for and commitment to relationships based in grace rather than in human performance or a desire for personal power or gain.

Leader commitments

  • Great Commandment living that expresses God’s compassion, love and grace
  • Concern for spiritual health over running programs—being over doing
  • Influencing through grace and love, not coercive power, unwarranted guilt or arbitrary rules

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment where the protégé experiences unconditional acceptance with an emphasis on God’s gracious provision in Christ

Equipping toolbox

GOD’S PERSON → Christ-centered 


As a developing disciple experiences joy and awe in knowing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they learn to trust in and live for God through loving allegiance to Christ their Lord.

Leader commitments

  • Commitment to a Christ-centered life: from the Father, in the Son, through the Holy Spirit

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment where the protégé encounters an accurate picture of who God is as Father, with an emphasis on the person of Christ and on incarnational ministry through the Spirit

Equipper Toolbox

GOD’S STORY → Word-Directed


As a developing disciple is immersed in God’s story of creation and redemption, conveyed through the written word (the Bible), they will, through the Spirit’s illumination, increasingly have their hearts and minds molded by and conformed to the living Word, Jesus Christ.

Leader commitments

  • Seeing our story as part of God’s story and practicing Word-directed living

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment bathed in the gospel–one that models Word-directed being and doing

Equipping Toolbox

GOD’S WILL → Spirit-formed 


As a developing disciple experiences dependence on God, they increasingly embrace, through spiritual disciplines, the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit. Out of this spiritual formation flows whole-life stewardship that bears the fruit of the Spirit rather than the works of the flesh.

Leader commitments 

  • Dependence on God’s sovereignty
  • Faith-filled, Spirit-formed living
  • Faithful, moment-by-moment, surrender to God

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment that is rich with devotion to spiritual disciplines (prayer in particular), within which walking in step with the Spirit is modeled and thus encouraged

Equipper Toolbox

GOD’S PEOPLE → Fellowship-building 


As a developing disciple experiences hope-filled and expectant vision for ministry, they develop a deep and abiding sense of calling to active participation in the local church. This participation emphasizes mutually accountable relationships through the collaboration of team ministry. This approach to ministry reflects Christ-like concern for the well-being and involvement of the minister’s spouse and children.

Leader commitments

  • Living in communal authority (willing accountability)
  • The church as Christ’s presence in the world – expressing his passion and extending his global mission
  • The local church as God’s instrument to advance his purpose in the world
  • Ministry as a ‘team sport’ lived out through collaborative, shared leadership

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment that expresses a deep commitment to the local church as God’s tool to advance the Kingdom in partnership with the denominational family and the larger body of Christ
  • An environment that expresses a deep commitment to being willingly accountable to peers, supervisors and ministry constituents
  • An environment that engenders spiritual fellowship (koinonia) through sharing and collaboration

Equipping toolbox

GOD’S PURPOSE → Disciple-making


As developing disciples encounter passionate commitment to the Great Commission, they increasingly are emboldened to reach out to build redemptive relationships through which disciples who make disciples are multiplied.

Leader commitments

  • Great Commission living: extending God’s mission through disciplemaking ministry
  • Relational ministry within and through the body of Christ

Environmental characteristics

  • An environment that expresses devotion to Christ’s Great Commission for ‘making disciples who make disciples’ – viewing this mission as a life-style and not just an ‘add-on’ program

Equipping toolbox

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