Grace: Building Your Ministry Upon the Right Foundation
What foundation is your ministry built upon? A foundation is defined as “an underlying base or support.” When starting a church or ministry, it’s dangerous to believe that this part isn’t essential. There’s a standard foundation that you would build for a house; there’s another standard for building skyscrapers. You don’t create just any type of foundation because it’s responsible for providing such necessary support. A church is similar because it also requires a particular foundation: Jesus and grace, which are one and the same. Just as the foundation of Christianity is grace, it should also be the foundation of your ministry.
You cannot abandon the grace foundation then proceed to teach a series because it will not endure if it’s not supported properly. Jesus’ grace should be the foundation for your teachings on everything—from parenting to finances, from spiritual gifts to handling conflict. If you attempt to teach on marriage and it’s not based on the foundation of God’s grace and Jesus Christ, it will be flawed. The result will be an outpouring of unfounded statements that can spread harmful, false ideas.
Your foundation for ministry cannot include a haphazard combination of human philosophies. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). You cannot add ideas from a life coach, a self-help book, and then, finally, Jesus. Imagine how many lives have been derailed because of false, hybrid teachings that were not founded on Jesus Christ. Maybe the sermon sounded good and had a nice little ring to it—but it was cracked because it was not based on the foundation of Jesus’ grace. And now, congregants have just stopped coming to church because what was shown to them did not work. The willingness to mix in the Law of Moses and performance in an attempt to accomplish something that God has already done prevents healing. Sin is not the problem because Jesus healed sinners. The ones who did not trust in what Jesus did were the ones who were not healed.
“Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:12, 13). Have you built your ministry on righteousness? On redemption? On what Jesus has done? Have you built it on trust? Or, is it on wood, hay, stubble, your own intelligence, a good idea, a performance of good behavior, and strategies? True, long-lasting support hinges on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. You cannot treat the church the same way you could treat a business you own. Even if it seems as though you’ve had some success, there is a difference between a growing church and a swelling church. Swelling comes from injury.
If you’ve built on top of a wrong foundation, consequences will come. If you’ve used wood, hay, and stubble, it will burn when there’s fire. Don’t build your ministry’s foundation with self-effort or the manipulation of financial support from wealthy individuals. That’s not the definition of grace. When you build on these weak materials, you will corrupt the ministry and the people within it.
Put away the false notion that you must mix your messages with the law and grace. You’re not justifying sin by teaching about grace contextually. Context determines the application of a Scripture. If you don’t include the context, the application will be lost, causing an error in someone’s life or way of thinking.
Ministry must be built upon the foundation of the gold, silver, and precious stone that can only be mined from the grace of God. Only these materials will withstand fire. “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15). As Dr. Earl Johnson stated many years ago, it is important to clean our filters, just like we would in a drying machine. If you don’t change it out or clean it, the false teachings of religion will corrupt you, preventing you from having the freedom to understand grace. I challenge you to strengthen your foundation, and if necessary, rebuild.