What is a “Philosophy of Ministry”?
By “philosophy of ministry” we mean the set of principles that govern the way we go about fulfilling the ministry that God has given us as a local church. A philosophy is never to be confused with purpose. We believe that our greatest purpose is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. We have identified corporate worship, corporate prayer, evangelism, edification and Christian education as God-given directives, and thus tools with which to exalt Christ. Our philosophy of ministry is that which guides the way we use those tools in order to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. So a philosophy must never become an end in itself, but the means to an end.
It is not our intent to cover every detail of our philosophy here. In short, we could say that our philosophy centers around God-given roles for the church and the family.
We believe it is the responsibility of parents, especially fathers, to teach and admonish their children such that God’s truth is passed on to the next generation and subsequent generations through godly homes (Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4). Christ will not be exalted if the next generation does not follow Him. The church, however well-intentioned, has stepped in and usurped this parental role with an age segregated Christian Education philosophy as well as, often times, age-segregated worship. At Bethany, families are free to learn and worship together in an age-integrated environment. We want to point children to the spiritual leadership of their fathers. We do not want to hinder that relationship in any way. We want to have an environment that encourages fathers to embrace their role, we don’t want to take that role from them.
We do recognize that not every home is equipped or ready for this type of philosophy. So as not to narrow our ministry opportunity with idealism that ignores reality, we do offer an age-segregated Sunday school option for elementary-age children. Otherwise all ages meet together for our Sunday school hour and everyone meets together for our worship services. We also have no mid-week children’s programs, but the youngest amongst us are learning to pray right alongside the rest of the body of Christ in our mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting.
Church-based Christian education
Not only has the church taken on a role that belongs to parents, the church has largely given up a role that it should embrace. We believe God has given the role of training leadership and preparing pastors to the local church (2 Tim. 2:2). For this reason, we have our own leadership development program that is based right here at Bethany. We use a variety of different resources to equip the next generation of leaders from within our body. This is not simply a “church-housed” Bible institute or a distance learning program, but a truly “church-based” education opportunity where students learn in the context of authentic ministry. We are presently in the infant stages of this program, but are absolutely elated about the potential, and are excited to see how God is going to use this.
Another important part of our philosophy here at Bethany is that we believe the church meetings are a gathering of the body of Christ. For this reason, we gear our meetings toward believers, and are not of the “seeker sensitive” mentality as it pertains to our gatherings. In no way do we seek to be like the world in order to reach the world. None of this mean that we don’t invite unbelievers to church and that we never preach the gospel in our services. It simply means that the emphasis of our meetings is on building the body of Christ. While we strongly emphasize reaching the lost, our evangelistic efforts are focused on meeting unbelievers where they are out in the world.
Click here to view our Doctrinal Statement.