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Seven Steps to Reforming a Dysfunctional Ministry or Church

I like to focus on my successes, not my failures. Rarely have I written about negative experiences. In my last entry, I defined the “martyr syndrome” as a breakdown in dysfunctional ministry relationships that end with volunteer Christian workers feeling victimized. Wherever there is conflict, there are always two sides that share some of the fault. I’ve always tried to leave relationships on good terms even though there was a fundamental disagreement. A few times I’ve successfully returned to work with the same people I thought were impossible to work with. Don’t burn bridges, that’s my first piece of advice.

I’ve obviously written this for my own benefit as a guide to reform. But maybe this has happened to you or someone you know? I’ve tried to briefly spell out what people can do to avoid the “martyr syndrome” — that feeling of “victimization” when ministry relationships do not work out.

1. Beware that all people are selfish in some way. Is there a person on the planet that is not selfish? We all share in original sin. No one is exempt from selfish behavior. Most people who are “unselfishly” serving in ministries are actually fulfilling a need for spiritual and emotional fulfillment. Some enjoy the reputation of self-sacrifice. But we should avoid the “martyr complex.” If we blame others every time we willingly sacrifice and yet are taken advantage of or underappreciated, then we have already received our reward. In claiming that all others around us are selfish, we hypocritically exhibit a more extreme form of selfishness. The remedy is to be careful that we not look for our reward from men, but should look to God.

2. Avoid obsessive compulsive behavior. A lot of times the self-proclaimed “experts” are merely those who exhibit obsessive compulsive behavior in one area of expertise. Lots of energy is expended and much gets done in a short time. However, this personality trait almost never stays on track consistently for more than a period of time. The principle of the Kingdom of God is that we must build “little by little” (Exodus 23:30).We must be covenantally faithful with what God entrusted to us over a long period of time (Proverbs 13:11). Then we cannot lose anything if we invest our lives consistently in serving God’s purposes.

3. Avoid unrealistic expectations. A lot of times a ministry project can seem exciting and new to a young volunteer. But be aware that the ones who found and maintain ministries often have to suffer through long periods of what seems to be unfruitful labor before they see any results. Ministries should also be careful not to frustrate and under-appreciate volunteers. Sometimes the encouragement of having some new blood in an organization can lead to a demand for too much from people who aren’t equipped to handle the pressure.

4. Write up a contract of some type. Define the terms of service before any “ministry” work gets done. What is the purpose of the project really? Is it solely to advance the cause of missions? Is it to raise money for a general fund or salaries pertaining to ministry work? Who is in charge of the project? What is the agreement? What happens if the agreement is not followed? Even if there is a written contract, the person in charge will often change the terms when it suits him. In this case, can the worker leave the contract without either side suffering damage? Is there a third party that may arbitrate as a witness if genuine damages occur? These are the main issues to be considered in such a contract.

5. Let God repay you. If we willingly harm other people in our thoughts, acts or words, then God will punish us if we do not repent. I have seen this happen continually in my life. I thank God I am not by nature a vindictive person and God made me somewhat thick-skinned. In every case that I have been wronged, God will always repay me. In any case, we should always seek to reconcile relationships with people we have wronged in any way. At the same time, we need to understand that some people don’t want healing and reconciliation. It’s hard to let that go if you have a heart for God, but sometimes sifting is biblical and necessary.

6. Honor your elders. The people who lead your ministry or church, whether they are ordained or not, likely have more years of experience and wisdom than you do. They are fallible human beings to boot. Yet even when you disagree with them because they are flat out wrong, they still may have something to teach you. Sometimes we even learn by a negative example. Nevertheless, if we persevere in ministry work, God may eventually place us in a position of authority. When that happens God will see to it that people will treat us in the same manner as we treated others.

7. Check your motivation. What are you doing serving a ministry in the first place? Do you want only to please God? Is it for a sense of spiritual fulfillment? Is it to get recognition? Are you there for training purposes so you can benefit in another endeavor later on. If you are looking for a reward, what type of reward do you expect? There is nothing inherently sinful about doing things that will benefit us, but in the end we will get a reward beyond measure if we will only accept what God gives us and be satisfied to do His will.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

"Wherever there is conflict, there are always two sides that share some of the fault".

Having a conflict with worldliness and ungodliness and fighting the good fight of faith is not a fault, it's biblical obedience.

"Fight the good fight of faith..." - 1 Timothy 6:12

ww

Posted by  Anonymous on 08/28/2014 07:14 AM #

You are nitpicking just a little bit here.

The context of that statement is conflict between people serving in ministry.

Whenever there are fallible human beings there is going to be conflict, but it is rare to have a conflict when 100 percent of the fault is on one side.

Only a perfect person could claim no faults in their everyday dealings with other people. The only exception to the rule is Jesus as you pointed out.

Posted by Jay Rogers on 03/11/2006 02:06 PM #

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

$14.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death (DVD)

Download the free Study Guide!

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our beleaguered society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target – the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God, but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.

The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. The Abortion Matrix reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

Speakers include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Porter and many more.

Ten parts, over three hours of instruction!

Running Time: 195 minutes

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Abortion Matrix DVD: Update

The Abortion Matrix:
Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death

is a 195-minute presentation that traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then delves into the social, political and cultural fall-out that this sin against God has produced. You can order this series on DVD, read the complete script and view clips on-line...
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