Church ministry is complex and very contextual. Every church ministry setting is uniquely different and ever changing. Yet, as we look at the nature of church ministry, there are only three types of ministry: birthing, revitalizing, and chaplaincy.
Giving Birth (birthing)
This type of ministry is simple: planting new churches. Giving birth is the creation of a new church community. Church planting is critical for the future of the church and the movement of Jesus. Church planting has its own joys and challenges. There are things about giving birth that are fun, but it is also difficult and messy. Less than 10% of church plants survive beyond 3-5 years. That said, church planting is critical to continue to build the Kingdom of God through the local church.
If church planting is giving birth, revitalization is raising the dead. Church revelation is helping churches look more and more like the church from the book of Acts in their context. Revitalization churches are those who are finding new life and transformation. They are working to figure out what the Holy Spirit is calling them to do and be and then to better live into that image. They are churches that are growing in health, discipleship, mission, and other ways.
Chaplaincy (including hospice chaplaincy)
The third and final type of church ministry is chaplaincy. Here, the focus of the ministry is to care for its members throughout the seasons of life as the church grows old and die together. The long-term prognosis for chaplaincy settings is not optimistic, but this ministry still has its place and value. Some chaplaincy church ministry is hospice chaplaincy, where ministry is centered around helping the church have a peaceful death.
God loves every church and its people. Each of these types of ministry has value, but for me, the first two lead the church to a future filled with hope.
Rev. Dr. Marcus J. Carlson, Executive Director