Five Core Ministry Priorities

by Jim on October 31, 2012


The Ministry Encouragement Podcast – Episode #018 – 10-31-12
Rev. Jim W. Hollis, Executive Director of Proactive Ministries

Contact Jim:


Phone: (Proactive Ministries offices in Atlanta, GA: (770) 803-9988)  We would love to hear from you!

Proactive Ministries Website:

Hello and welcome to Episode #018 of the Ministry Encouragement Podcast.  It is my prayer that this will be an experience that will touch you at the point of one or more of your greatest needs, lift your life spiritually AND provide you with fresh, Christ-empowered motivation.  I hope to hear of you moving fully into the joy of discipleship and the adventure of ministry.  I am SO appreciative of you allowing me to share in your life today through your listening to this Podcast!

I’m Rev. Jim W. Hollis, the Founder and Executive Director of Proactive Ministries, a ministry of teaching, training and coaching in ministry for local churches, pastors, church leaders, and all Christ-followers who are seeking to serve through ministry.  This ministry started in 1993, with a Staff of one – ME – and today has grown to a Staff of 21.  I launched this ministry 19 years ago after serving as a Pastor of churches for 18 years.  We have been blessed to have led training with more than 900 congregations across North America.

In this Eighteenth Episode, we will be discussing the overall topic of:  Five Core Ministry Priorities

These Five Core Ministry Priorities are directly related to any individual Christ-follower or any congregation who is pursuing excellence in serving others in ministry through the Divine Love of Jesus Christ consistently.  They are:

  1. Comprehensive Prayer Ministry
  2. Leadership Development Excellence
  3. Connectional Small Group Involvement
  4. Relational Outreach Ministry
  5. Worship Ministry

I want to approach all of these Core Ministry Priorities today from two perspectives: as an individual Christian and as a congregation or a group of church leaders.  Each of them is directly related to us as individuals and in a corporate setting as well to make certain that we are growing steadily in Christ and ministry effectiveness.

Another way to think of these 5 Priorities is in terms of both personal and Christian Community growth.  So with each one I will be relating them to how they help shape our lives spiritually as individuals and then how they can help us experience growth in a congregational setting.  These hold great relevance and value for us in both dimensions.

As individual Christians we want to be steadily growing in our own relationship with Jesus Christ.  We want to become closer to Christ that we may in turn be not only inspired spiritually, but move to the place where we come to discover and live out our own calling from God for serving others in the world through ministry.  What I mean by “ministry” is certainly not limited to being called to become a clergy person.  But every Christian is called to serve others consistently through the unconditional love of Jesus Christ and the focus that God intends for every individual believer.

Some people put it this way, “God has a purpose and plan for every life.”  I often share when I am on the road in ministry the following with congregations and groups to whom I am speaking, “I believe with all my heart and soul that what I am doing here today is the major reason I was created by God and called by God.  I love what I am doing for Christ and others.  It causes my heart and soul to sing with joy.  And even if an person were to walk in the door over there and plunk down one million dollars for me, telling me I could do anything I would want from that time on, I would still be doing this ministry since it is giving me the fulfillment and blessing that only being centered in God’s will for my life can deliver.” 

Does this come to us quickly or without struggle?  Most often not.  We may be at a point in our lives where we know we love Jesus Christ and have entered into a personal, living relationship with Jesus as the Risen, Living Lord.  But we may still not be clear exactly what God’s call is for us as an individual.  Is God calling and equipping me to work in service to Senior Citizens or perhaps with those who are in Youth Ministry?  What a divergence!  And how would I find out?  I would encourage each of us to spend much time in contemplative prayer, listening with our hearts, minds and souls for guidance from God.  And while there can be a sudden breakthrough, don’t go expecting that or counting on it.  It will more than likely come over time.

So what are we to do then in the meantime?  How are we to live with the lack of clarity about what God specifically wants us to give ourselves to in serving others?  We can always listen carefully through our prayers, take a Spiritual Gifts Inventory and have dialogue with other Christians we trust who can give us their honest feedback on what they experience of our gifts, strengths and blessings.  We can choose to experience various kinds of ministries and as we do, listen carefully with our mind and spirit to check if this current work is bring us joy or stress, fulfillment or tiredness?   Are we gifted at it while it bring us tremendous joy?  Now we may be getting closer to the mark we are seeking.

Where then, do we begin?  At the basics of ministry beginnings.  These Five Core Ministry Priorities will allow us to become closer to Christ and discover more about our clarity of calling in ministry.  Let’s take a look at them individually. 

Prayer is the foundation upon which all other ministry with meaning rests.  Without a starting place of prayer whatever we are attempting to do will likely fail.  Even with prayer, it can be tough, but with coming to understand the Divine Power of prayer, we certainly avail ourselves and our efforts with more power than we personally possess.  We also find that prayer ministry opens doors that we would not have been able to open but may not have even seen or considered without prayer.

We get to know God intimately through prayer.  Prayer is at least direct communication with God.  And through prayer, God truly communicates directly with us through many means.  Sometimes we may get thoughts from God which are in line with the lessons and principles of Scripture.  Then we can see God open doors of opportunity for us that we may have never even realized were there.  God leads us into relationships with others as we move forward in our faith, often connecting us with persons who have wonderful caring, guidance and encouragement for us.  Then God leads us to be with those to whom we have opportunities to be a blessing to or serve in ministry with.  Prayer is the foundation of all spiritual growth in our lives.

As we come to discover God’s desire and design on our lives, we begin to live through the joy and blessing we find in serving in the area of ministry to which we are called and equipped.  We want to be more effective and will eventually be invited to move from just involvement into Leadership in this area.  As we begin to understand that God is calling us into Leadership, we wrestle with how to grow strong and more effective as ministry leaders.  We have laid a good foundation of prayer and want to grow in leadership through study, personal accountability with others, being part of a Team in ministry, and maximizing our spiritual gifts and talents to give us new strength in leading.  We desire to develop our leadership strengths.

One of the best ways to develop as a Leader is to get involved in a meaningful, spiritually based, Small Group.  We call our model of small groups, Connect Groups.  The overall purposes of these groups is to help individuals connect more closely, relationally with one another as well as those we have not yet met.  There are many ways we can grow profoundly through our experiences in Connect Groups.

Then once we have developed a foundation of prayer, honed our leadership gifts and strengths, and have become a vital part of a powerful relationally effective Small Group or Connect Group – then we begin to desire to reach others and grow the various ministries that we are involved with as well as other ministries of our church.

We come to the place where we want to be faithful to what is often referred to as, The Great Commission.  In this experience Jesus gathered his own disciples together on a mountain and commanded them to “GO” into all the world and make other disciples, baptizing and teaching them to obey all that He (Jesus) had commanded them.  We are also told in Scripture that we are all named as “Ambassadors for Christ of Reconciliation” in I Corinthians 5:16 – 20.  As we come to reflect on these two identities we know that we are going to be reaching out to relationally connect with others we simply don’t know well or at all.

Here is the place and reason that Relational Outreach comes so into focus for our lives.  We have discovered Divine Love, grace, forgiveness, hope and joy.  We recognize through study and sharing that this is not for us “hold onto alone” but that we are invited to go and share these things with others through sharing the Gospel and ministry.  We find ourselves with a passion to reach others with the good news and love of Christ through the establishment and strengthening of authentic relationships with them.

All of these things lead us to develop an enormous sense of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us and with us.  We recognize that not one of us is deserving on the many blessings we have received and want to express our adoration, praise and thanksgiving to God for immense grace and love toward us.  We then begin to seriously focus on Worship.  We want to not just bring an offering to worship and be a witness to worship, but we want to grow to the place where we bring ourselves AS the offering and want to worship God with all the sincerity and passion we possess.  So, worship rounds out the five priorities of ministry for us individually.

Does this mean that these five are it?  Are they the only major priorities we will discover?  Absolutely not.  But they do represent a tremendous beginning in our lives for covering some of the most major basics of the Christian Faith.  Just as we have considered these individually we see the need to think of them in the context of the larger group of Christians, often referred to as, “The Body of Christ,” even the church.  Every church should be focusing in a primary way on these five core ministry priorities we have listed.  Here are just a few reasons why: 

Any church of any size in any setting who wants to grow and be effective in being used by God to transform lives must have a solid foundation of Prayer Ministry.  Otherwise nearly all of the functions will result in mere “nice activities” or “very busy calendars” with little impact spiritually on lives, relationships and families.   A church needs the kind of Prayer Ministry that far exceeds only intercessory prayer, as important as intercessory prayer is.  It needs a prayer ministry that proves truly comprehensive – covering the entire congregation and expanding out into the larger community – made up of individuals and families who don’t do church at all.  This can only happen if the Pastor and the Leadership of the church are grounded in prayer.

Speaking of Leadership Development, if a church is serious about effectively serving Christ, they will invest in having all the Leaders of their congregation to be thoroughly trained and equipped to serve with excellence.  They will also move away from a system of ineffective “volunteerism” to a much more powerful system of “spiritual recruiting and calling to ministry” which adds infinite depth and meaning to the entire Leadership development efforts.

Leaders will be trained, empowered, equipped, encouraged and held accountable in love on a year-round basis.  Those in Leadership will be asked to rise to a higher level of sacrifice and dedication to Christ and the ministries of the congregation.  All of this and much more takes place through Leadership Development.

As Leaders are trained for excellent ministry they will be moved to reach out, intiate and pursue authentic, caring relationships with others in their daily lives.  Churches that grow will focus on several major target ministry groups when it comes to relational outreach.  These target ministry groups are in nearly every congregation, regardless of setting. They are Worship Guests and Community Families; Inactive or uninvolved members and those involved in activities of the church who are not spiritually connected in clear and present ways;  the persons and families who are shut-in, homebound, sick, or home recuperating from a major surgery or long term illness.  In addition to these groups, the Daytime Outreach ministry group can also discover families in the community who have celebrated the birth of a new child who can be visited in the daytime by laity volunteers with great joy and compassion. 

Connecting with God in worship is a powerful part of the Christian life.  Every church should work hard to see that their worship is life-transforming and invitational for everyone to go and share the love, joy and grace with others in their respective spheres of influence.

Once the relational outreach has begun to be effective and new persons and families are coming into the life of the church, Connect Groups, an effective model of Small Group ministry comes into a central place of focus.  We must have some place to invite the new persons into where they can connect relationally with others who are part of the congregation, such as Staff, Leaders and members who truly have a desire for exercising great hospitality and desire to increase Christian Community.  This takes place in Connect Groups.

Excellent training and teaching over time brings all these priorities into the present in a congregation.  It is in many churches that we work as a ministry to become a teaching & training resource for local churches or for groups of local churches who will sign on for this tremendous blessing.

So let’s do a little assessment of our lives this day.  Where are we with these Five Core Ministry Priorities?  Are we grounded in prayer?  Are we truly communicating with God through our own prayer life?  Is God supplying us with guidance and direction through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit in us through our experiences of prayer?

And are we currently involved in Leadership as we serve in one or more ministries?  Becoming the most mature, effective and caring leader we can become is vitally important in our life as a disciple of Jesus Christ.  What things are we doing to grow in our Leadership maturity and knowledge?  How are we living out what we know to gain new insights and experiences in Leadership in the church?  At work?  At play?  Where we hang out?

Then are we a regular participant in one or more Small Groups which focus on building relationships and holding us accountable to grow forward in our faith journey?  Our Connect Groups can provide everyone in a congregation the weekly opportunity to both intitiate and pursue meaningful, caring relationships with others we do not know.  And as we grow in this area, do we find our passion to reach others is increasing?

Relational Outreach becomes our next priority.  Through relational outreach we can love others consistently with the unconditional love of Jesus Christ, requiring nothing from them in return.  In other words, we love them wholeheartedly, with no hidden agendas.  We become the salt of the earth, the light of the world and we take on our role as serving as an, “Ambassador for Christ, with Christ making his appeal through us.”  This brings immense faith development and increases our trust in our own relationship with Jesus Christ.

All of these things culminate in the experience of Christian Worship together.  In worship we are the offering and we come to offer our prayers, praises and hearts to God.  Worship is the filling station where we get filled to go and serve again for another week in the world.  We have many opportunities in the context of worship to demonstrate grace, hospitality and love to others we know and have the opportunity of meeting for the first time.   It is my prayer that these FIVE CORE MINISTRY PRIORITIES make up the foundation of our walk with Christ.  These are the same Core Ministry Priorities needed for a growing church.

Churches truly struggle with learning a valuable spiritual lesson: LESS IS MORE.  As congregations, we can’t just keep adding and adding new programs and activities with a limited number of Leaders and participants.  Therefore we are called as Pastors and Leaders in churches to PRIORITIZE the ministry priorities of the church.  Are these Five Core Ministry Priorities the priorities of our congregation at this time?  There are far too many activities on church calendars that have more to do with us feeling good and being blessed than truly serving others beyond the walls of our congregations.  These things can only change when a church, through its Leadership, begins to make some hard choices on which ministry priorities it will keep, which it will suspend, and which ones it end with a proper funeral.

As we get ready to close this Episode #018 of the Ministry Encouragement Podcast, let me continue to encourage each of you that we still desire to build and grow the Community of Faith we are seeing form around this Podcast.  How can you become more a part of this joy?  Please let me know of your joys and questions concerning one or more of these Five Core Ministry Priorities.  Feel free to email me at: or call me at our ministry offices in Atlanta, GA: (770) 803-9988.

Would you also as part of your being a witness for Christ in the coming days, please share your experience of this Podcast with others you would love to bless by inviting them to consider subscribing to it and listening to the various Episodes available, now at 18.  Your taking a few minutes to do this will make a direct difference in it literally going around the world through the miracle of the Internet as a tool for ministry expansion.

May God bless you as you live out your faith this week.  Go and share the love, the joy and the grace of our Lord.  I am keeping you in prayers as you go.  I also covet your prayers for me and our ministry as well.  Thank you!



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