Tailoring Ministry to the Individual

In this day of megachurches and churches spread across multiple campuses, is it really possible or even practical to care about the individual? Yet ministry is based on the model of a shepherd  willing to leave a flock of ninety-nine sheep in an open field while searching for one lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7).

In Chapter 4 of my book, Questioning Your Doubts: A Harvard PhD Explores Challenges to Faith, I share a philosophy of ministry based on a sensitivity to the needs of individuals that requires we avoid assumptions while remaining pragmatic.

The basics of this philosophy:

  1. Show people respect. Ask questions instead of jumping to conclusions. Trying to force a person into a certain ministry mold may not help a person although our intentions may be admirable. A widower may prefer joining the men’s ministry on a fishing trip to taking a class that requires him to discuss his grief in a small group. Let people select the ministry resources best suited to their needs and respect their choice.
  2. Do not project your needs onto someone else. What ministered to you in a particular circumstance in your life may not minister to your friend. Listen to what your friend is communicating to you instead of planning ministry based on your own preferences. For example, not all new mothers feel depressed after childbirth, so ministry in a mom’s group should validate different responses to a similar life event.
  3. Beware false assumptions. Not all childless young couples feel called to work in the children’s ministry in your church, no matter how badly you desire to staff the nursery and toddler room. Perhaps a woman with a career in finance would rather serve on a church committee that allows her to bless the church with her professionals skills instead of a more traditional role in a woman’s ministry. Simply asking people about their passions and interests can prevent misplaced and disheartened volunteers. The church will prosper when people find fulfilling ministry roles.

Large or small, a church can be sensitive to the needs of individuals while still meeting the goals of the group as a whole. Whether in your church life or in your friendships, what approaches do you take to tailor your response to the needs of the individual?

The Book Release Banquet

After years of working on this project, I am excited that my book, Questioning Your Doubts: A Harvard PhD Explores Challenges to Faith, has been released! As the shipments arrive at the various bookstores and distributors, I feel like a host whose guests are streaming into a banquet hall for a feast to celebrate the harvest season.

Bountiful Harvest
Bountiful Harvest

The time of preparing for the banquet is over. The ink has dried on the pages of my book. Thanks to the work of many, the book, free of typos and beautifully designed, is available for readers to enjoy!

If you follow the link on this website to Bookstores, you will see that the book is available in many different places for the book was written for all the guests interested in attending the banquet. Like the host in the Parable of the Great Feast described in Luke 14:15-23, I am sending out the invitation to anyone who wants to come.

I hope to meet many of my readers through social media sites, such as Facebook (Page), Goodreads or Twitter, and at book signings, speaking events, or conferences. However, even if we never meet in person, know that this book was written for you. I hope you are entertained by my personal stories and find the encouragement or information you need in one of the chapters. Pick up a plate, walk along the buffet table, and then sit down and join me in the celebration!

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