Being Professional in Ministry?

The problem of professionalism in ministry is endemic to those living under the influence of the American dream – in a business and marketing driven society where money rather than Christ is King

“We must resist the temptation to believe that the church is a business in light of the insistence that there are organizational and financial aspects to the church. The church does not sell products. The minister is not a business man. The minister is a servant of Christ called to be His ambassador in a world that has turned its back on Him.”

 

John Piper’s Brothers, We Are Not Professionals is one of the books that pastors in the Western world would do well to read annually. In that work, Piper puts his finger on the gaping wound of a corporate mindset that has plagued the church in North America for far too long. At the outset Piper explains why we should reject the professionalizing of ministry:

“We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Professionalism has nothing to do with the essence and heart of the Christian ministry. The more professional we long to be, the more spiritual death we will leave in our wake. For there is no professional childlikeness (Matt. 18:3); there is no professional tenderheartedness (Eph. 4:32); there is no professional panting after God (Ps. 42:1).”

The problem of professionalism in ministry is endemic to those living under the influence of the American dream–in a business and marketing driven society where money rather than Christ is King. We must resist the temptation to believe that the church is a business in light of the insistence that there are organizational and financial aspects to the church. The church does not sell products. The minister is not a business man. The minister is a servant of Christ called to be His ambassador in a world that has turned its back on Him. The professionalizing of ministry in the church is the bane of the church’s existence in whatever shape or form it may take.

Nevertheless, I have often thought that a complementary volume–bearing the title, Brothers, We Could Be a Little More Professional–might be in order for some. After all, there is proper use of the word professional (i.e. “to exercise mature competency and skillfulness in one’s vocation”) that should characterize the lives, preaching and pastoral care of ministers. All ministers should seek to be as professional as possible in those things in which God has called them. Here are a few areas that I have in mind:

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