Guidelines for Burden Based Ministry

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It is not uncommon for believers to have a burden, a passion, for some specific ministry effort. How should a pastor and church board respond when someone in the congregation enthusiastically advocates a ministry beyond what the congregation is presently doing?  Leadership will want neither to squelch fresh ideas in a knee-jerk fashion, nor to abandon the sound stewardship of resources and relationships.

A healthy congregation will already be addressing essential biblical functions. (These functions include [1] worship, [2] instruction, [3] fellowship, [4] expression ~ i.e., evangelism, missions & service, and [5] leadership development & deployment.) Wise congregations engage these functions through systems and methods suitable to their respective locations. So, they establish basic ministries and budget accordingly.

At issue in this article is ministry beyond those established “basics.” How can leadership both encourage visionary individuals and simultaneously be wise, responsible managers of resources and relationships? Tension can arise in handling such settings.

To address such situations, I offer eight guidelines plus an important P.S.:

  1. Don’t get in doctrinal trouble;  Respect our statement of faith.
  2. Don’t get in moral trouble;  Uphold biblical ethical standards.
  3. Don’t get in legal trouble;  Obey the law.
  4. Don’t create relational trouble;  Promote the unity of believers.
  5. Don’t expect immediate endorsement;  Earn support by a proven ministry.
  6. Don’t ask for church money;  Put your money on the line.
  7. Don’t ask for church staff;  Show that you can recruit, motivate and manage others.
  8. Now, go for it!


Here’s the P.S. – If someone can motivate people and manage a sustained and fruitful ministry [across a year, say], then it would be legitimate to approach church leadership and say, “If we had (this many) people and/or (this much) money we could do (this much) more.”

Of course, the first four of the above guidelines always apply to persons engaged in ministry approved by a congregation. The last ones are added for those who propose a new ministry supplementary to those already sanctioned by leadership.

Over time, I have discovered that these guidelines, when conscientiously and prayerfully observed, have proven both to promote the unity among believers which Christ desires and to enable the ministry that He inspires.


Mark Killam retired in 2006 following over four decades of pastoral ministry. He and wife, Carol, are active servants in First Alliance Church, Lexington, KY. Both are passionate about teaching scripture to God’s people and building bridges for witness into non-Christian lives … beginning with their neighbors. When asked how long he has been married to Carol, he says, “Not long enough.” Mark is a 1966 graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary.