Recipe for Community Ministry

Ever since the invention of the written language, people have recorded recipes. Handed down from one generation to another, and from one friend to another, we pass on the secret to culinary delights that have been discovered by or passed on to us. Recipes of old were often a bit vague and assumed a certain familiarity with the baking or cooking process. I saw some of my grandmother’s recipe cards that sometimes were little more than an ingredient list. Measurements might be “a pinch of this” or “a dash of that.” Recipes today have gotten specific with every detail and measurement precisely identified to leave no room for error. If followed to the letter, reliable results can be repeated time and again the world over regardless of the chef or baker.
I am often asked what churches can do to grow. People want to know what the secret recipe is to successful ministry today. Ultimately, I believe they are looking for a specific recipe that, if followed to the letter, will produce reliable results. This sort of copy and paste approach to ministry never really works. However, I do believe Jesus gives us a recipe for community ministry that can produce reliably faithful results, but it looks more like some of the recipes I remember my grandmother using: “a pinch of this,” and “a dash of that!”
In Luke 15 and throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus gives us the basic steps we need to effectively minister to our communities: we need to reach the least (the lost coin), the lost (the lost son), and the left out (the lost sheep). Every community around the world is home to people who could be described as least, lost, or left out. Our challenge as church is to begin to reorient our ministry to intentionally reach out and care for the very real needs of the people in our community who are the least, the lost, and the left out.
In the next three months, we will take a look at each of these one at a time. Remember, this is not a step-by-step detailed recipe that can be simply copied and pasted in your town. Instead, we will begin to discover who the least, lost, and left out in your community might be and take a look at the basic principles, opportunities, and challenges of ministry to the people around us that need Jesus.
As we go, I ask you to read through Luke 15 and begin to pray for you and your congregation to engage in intentional, authentic outreach to the least, the lost, and the left out in your own community. Pray for God to give you eyes to see them, ears to hear them, hearts to be filled with compassion for them, and hands and feet to go and minister to them.
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or Like us on Facebook: