America & The Church: Programs & Institutions Verses Relationships


The Power For The 5 Fold In Ministry

When faced with challenges, the Church instinctively turns to programs and building institutions to solve their problems.  Not that it has all been bad, but usually not lasting.  As discussed in previous blogs the YMCA originally was a program turned institution to be an evangelistic outreach in Great Britain in the 1800’s.  Reaching out through recreation in a gymnasium, the gospel was shared.  Today it is just called the “Y”. We have lost the “C” for Christian in Young Men’s Christian Organization, and the salt has again lost its savor. Many hospitals were first founded as “clinics” reaching out to the poor and today have become medical institutions and Wellness Conglomerates whose bottom line is a financial profit, and again the religious influence has given way to the secular.

In order for the Church to be effective in problem solving the challenges that now face society it must turn to relationships for the answer rather than institutions or programs.  Evangelism has become a church program rather than a relationship building activity. The church will finance large massive Evangelistic Crusades to win just one for Christ, yet the largest majority of Christians were introduced to Jesus through a personal friend with whom they had build a relationship.  If the church is people, then the power of their ministry must come through relationships between people.

For example: To answer the question “how to take care of the elderly, the widows”, the Church needs to go beyond its current mindsets of programs and establishing institutions.  Jesus never started a Widows Fund, nor built an Assisted Living Center, nor a Holy Spirit Nursing Home, to take care of the elderly. He built relationships and established ministry through those relationships. The disciple John is called “the beloved”, and it is he that Jesus established a relationship worthy of the honor of trusting John to take care of his mother after his death. Most people take care of family members because of relationships.  If relationships weren’t built when the family grew up together, then one will look for programs and institutions to help them with their problems and situations.

Building relationships is a disc in the backbone of Christianity. If an activity isn’t built on or around a relationship, it is bound to become a religious activity, eventually losing its potency and meaning, and you find yourself eventually only going through the motions while losing the real substance and purpose for it in the first place. Jesus never established a program nor an institution during his short three year term of ministry; he build relationships. His relationship with only a small select group of 12 set the foundation for His Church.  Those 12 established relationships with others as the movement grew.  The breaking bread together and continual fellowshipping among the saints built the foundation of the church when there were no buildings, no priests, no clergy, nor formal religious training.  You learned the Christian walk by walking it out with someone else, just as Jesus did with the 12.

I believe in the power of the five fold because it has to be established on relationships: relationships with 4 others who are totally different in passion, voice, and point of view; relationships built on the principle of “laying down your life” for them through service; relationships that help you and them mature individually into the image of Jesus Christ and corporately bringing unity amongst the five of you.  The five fold is not a program.  The five fold is not an institution based upon offices.  The five fold is based on what you do through relationships, that which drives you toward service, your passion.  Outside relationships, the five fold is doomed to become a program or institution of offices, just like so many other services of ministry that the Church has lost.

In the next several blogs, let’s look at the Church strictly in the terms of relationships and see how powerful the Church can be if it meets challenges through relationships with others to determine solutions.  Then we can perceive the power of a five fold ministry and its effectiveness if it is built on relationships, service, and laying down one’s life for his/her brethren/sisters.