Photo by Andrew Nicodem / ITeams

Philosophy of Ministry

What is this document?

Our Philosophy of Ministry (POM) articulates the core beliefs and principles of ministry for International Teams (ITeams) and also includes references to principles and best practices that inform and guide thinking and action. This document represents shared expectations for everyone employed by ITeams and provides a basis for conversations, collaboration, and review. All ministries around the world must align appropriately to the POM. The POM is a collaborative product of both Ministry Development and Ministry Support, and is owned by the Office of the President. The material in this document is either foundational or best practice.

Foundational material

All teams around the world must adhere to the foundational material. It is the foundation on which we build all our work, and as such, it is considered non-optional. The first section—What we believe—is our statement of faith when the text is considered with the referenced covenants/statements. The Scripture references in this section support the basis for our beliefs.

Best practices

These practices guide our work, but some of them might not be applicable to all teams. These practices may be adjusted for local context in order to reach ministry objectives. Teams are expected to follow best practices, applying them appropriately to their own cultural context.

We currently have best practices defined for Community Development and Disciple-making. We anticipate including additional best practices for other aspects of our work in future editions of the POM.

Appendix

An appendix is included which contains helpful reference material including covenants and statements referenced in the POM.

Visualizing the POM

The diagram below may help to visualize how the POM empowers all of us to contextualize appropriate elements of our life and work in our communities while holding true to the core foundations described in the POM.

Visualizing the POM

Putting it all together

WHY (Passion) →

Things are not alright. We're passionate about taking on the status quo until no one is invisible and everyone has access to food, freedom, and forgiveness.

SEE (Vision) →

Lives and communities transformed by the power of God

DO (Mission) →

We bring people together to help the oppressed

HOW (Core Purpose) →

Integrated community transformation (ICT)

GOAL (Transformational Goal) →

No one is invisible and everyone has access to food, freedom, and forgiveness.

To do this well together, we not only need a shared vision, but we also need solid foundations on which to build. Our Philosophy of Ministry provides these foundations.

Section 1
Foundational

What we believe

This section, taken together with the referenced statements and covenants, is our statement of faith. It's intended to be broad enough to allow partnerships to flourish, but specific enough to set anchors for faith that flow into practice. It represents the core of what we believe and what holds us together, without being exhaustive in scope.

We believe in the inspiration, authority, and power of the Scriptures in the Old and New Testaments. We affirm the mystery of the Trinity—One God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We affirm the Lausanne Covenant and the WEA Statement of Faith (see Appendix). 2 Timothy 3:16-17 • John 14:6 • 2 Corinthians 3:18-4:18

Things are not alright. Since Adam and Eve, all the world is broken and everyone except Jesus is separated from God. Everyone has the same need for food, freedom, and forgiveness, but our broken relationships with each other and with God restrict our access to these necessary things. Isaiah 53:6 • Acts 3:1-10 • Proverbs 31:8-9 • Psalm 9:9 • Psalm 103:6 • Isaiah 1:17 • Isaiah 58 • Luke 4:18

Jesus is the only hope for all the world. His words, works, and ways guide all we do. Our continual focus is to abide in him. Our path is not a new one. It's both ancient and future. The way was inaugurated by Jesus who walks with us. Acts 4:8-12 • 1 John 2:6 • John 15:5:8

Out of love for all the world, Jesus provided the way for us to be restored to our intended relationship to God by taking our sins upon himself on the cross. In his death and resurrection, Jesus destroys the works of the evil one. Only Jesus provides eternal salvation and is the foundation of forgiveness. He is making all things new. John 14:6 • 1 John 3:8 • Isaiah 42:16 • Isaiah 43:19 • Jeremiah 29:11 • Revelation 21:5

Only Jesus can transform lives and communities, but he invites us to join with him in his work. We will not separate mission and compassion, because Jesus doesn't. Transformed lives lead to transformed communities, and transformed communities lead to transformed lives. John 4:1-42 • Luke 10:25-37 • Acts 17:26-27 • John 4:1-42

* bolded Scripture references are especially foundational to our transformational goal for each community

Vision, mission, and values

These key concepts describe what we see, what we do, and how we go about our work.

Vision
(what we see)

Lives and communities transformed by the power of God

Mission
(what we do)

We bring people together to help the oppressed

Values
(how we go about our work)

People — We honor all people and treat everyone with respect and dignity. We work in community alongside both our colleagues and those we serve. We always assume, seek, encourage, and build upon the best in others. We respond to the needs and feelings of others in an appropriate and timely manner.

Integrity — We always strive to do the right thing. We are vulnerable, genuine and transparent in our interactions; speaking the truth in love. We do what we say we will do, creating high degrees of trust.

Empowerment — We get things done together. We delegate authority with responsibility. We choose to communicate in ways that lead to understanding so that powerful and creative collaboration can emerge. In order for us to move forward, we employ a discipline of continuous improvement without getting stuck in the ideal of the perfect.

Excellence — We work purposefully, bringing our best every day. We work with each other to create the best outcomes, and we share credit accordingly. We encourage individual development and provide appropriate accountability. We embrace best practices while remaining sensitive to the leading of Jesus.

Principles

What follows are foundational principles that should never be violated.

With Jesus. Jesus is at work to transform lives and communities and invites us to join with him.

With churches. Where possible, we're committed to working with local communities of Jesus followers who share our faith.

With communities. We work alongside members of the community, not over them. We empower people by involving them in the process of transformation to become more of what God created them to be. We work with (alongside) the oppressed to ensure that everyone in a given community has access to food, freedom, and forgiveness.

With others. We bring people together to help the oppressed. We send people as well as develop partnerships (both local and global). While our primary partners will share our convictions and beliefs, we are open to working with persons of peace who resonate with our vision for transformation (Luke 9-10). We will not compromise who we are but are open to working with those businesses, governments, and schools who want to participate with us in the work of transformation.

Section 2
Best practices for integrated community transformation (ICT)

We focus on transformation that is holistic, recognizing the need for both individuals and communities to experience such change.

ICT requires an integration of disciple-making and community development. We cannot speak of one without touching on the other. Community transformation occurs as Jesus transforms individual lives and engages their abilities and passions in his purposes for all aspects of the community. Community transformation also occurs as obstacles are removed and opportunities are created by those who align their resources and influence with the purposes of Jesus. Thus, disciple-making and community development are integral to one another. Although their best practices are looked at separately below, we remain convinced that the two are inextricably bound together.

Community Development

  1. Relationships: Our approach centers on knowing, loving, and walking alongside others. Affirming, empowering relationships in service together hold greater transformative value than a building, program, or other accomplishments.
  2. Inclusion: Our goal is to see the entire community as Jesus does. No one should be invisible when considering resources, needs, and who to include in the transformation process.
  3. Strengths: We bring people together to holistically address immediate and long-term needs, beginning with strengths. We also help connect communities with external resources where necessary and appropriate.
  4. Sustainability: We encourage long-term sustainability through fostering local ownership, responsibility and unity based on what Jesus is already doing locally. We do not come in with preset agendas or merely do things for others.
  5. Roots: We aim to inspire transformation firstly internally, uprooting spiritual and psychological causes of poverty rather than merely reacting to external manifestations of internal issues. There is no separating personal inner transformation from external community transformation, as one cannot proceed sustainably without the other.
  6. Strategy: We begin as small and simply as possible and look to continuously enhance momentum and scope of work through a process of community entry, evaluation, engagement, and expansion.
  7. Measurement: We measure results qualitatively and quantitatively, assessing our processes, outcomes and ultimately our impact in areas of food, freedom, and forgiveness. We plan, do, check and adjust to ensure we are working with excellence and effectiveness.

Disciple-making

  1. Jesus Centered: We're Jesus-centered. We pattern our lives after his life, imitating his words, works, and ways. We create a culture of invitation and challenge—grace and truth. Jesus affirmed both relationship (COME) and responsibility (GO), two essential elements for helping people grow and engage in the Kingdom.
  2. Biblically Oriented: We're biblically-oriented. We encounter Jesus and embrace his words in the pages of Scripture. Therefore, the Bible plays a core role in our approach to disciple-making. Whenever possible we aim to connect people with Scripture and resources in their own languages and from within their own cultures.
  3. Organic Multiplication: We strive for organic multiplication of groups of Jesus followers. We are called to make disciples who make disciples, empowering others to lead and invest in those in their community in a way that is easily transferable. Therefore, our approach engages whole families and communities, as well as individuals.
  4. People Matter Most: We prioritize people rather than programs. While programs and structures can serve an important purpose, most life-change happens through life-on-life relationships.
  5. Listen & Obey: We use an obedience-based approach that leads to action, rather than viewing discipleship primarily as acquiring more information. We believe coming to trust in Jesus happens while learning to obey all Jesus commanded. Two questions we learn to continually ask are: "What is God saying?" and "What will we do about it?"
  6. Abundant Prayer: We believe that abundant prayer is a powerful impetus for Kingdom breakthrough and the multiplication of disciples. The earnest intercession of God's people helps to foster prayerfully dependent Christ-followers.
  7. Outwardly Focused: We are outwardly-focused, joining with Jesus on his mission. Disciples seek to see people and the world as he does, engaging and proclaiming the good news and serving out of their identity in Jesus and their unique calling as agents of transformation in their communities.
  8. Healthy Group Culture: Discipleship happens best within a healthy group culture. We seek to demonstrate and develop community life that is connected to Jesus. A group that is learning to love each other, is marked by ongoing transformation, and is on mission together provides the right context for disciple-making.

Others to come

As a learning organization continuously seeking to grow in character, skill, and knowledge, we anticipate including best practices for any major aspect of ministry that ITeams develops as they become needed in the future.

Theology

Who we are and what we do

A charter describing the identity and ministry of ITeams

Our identity and ministry is rooted in Jesus Christ. His character, life, and mission in the world empower our work. He is at the center of all we do. Therefore, as an organization, we exist and work toward transformation in response to his call, by his resurrection power, and for his glory.

Jesus is (he proclaims and embodies) good news to a lost and broken world, separated from God and suffering under the corrupting and oppressive effects of sin in all its forms. He makes all things new and ushers in the dawn of a new reality—life in the kingdom of God—which he offers to all who will receive it. (Mark 1:15)

Jesus inaugurates a new hope that realigns our vision toward the already and coming kingdom.

Looking at Jesus' life and ministry we see what the coming of the kingdom looks like—both physically and spiritually. By the power of God, the blind receive sight (John 9, Acts 10); the sick are made well (Luke 17, Acts 9); captives are set free (John 8, Mark 5); the hungry are fed (John 6); the poor are provided for (Acts 4, James 2, Revelation 3); and the lost are found (Luke 19, Luke 15). All of this together expresses God's mission of creating a new social reality under the lordship of Jesus that exists for the blessing of all.

Jesus not only proclaims and embodies the good news of the kingdom, but by sacrificially offering up his own life as God incarnate upon the cross, he absorbs the full measure of the death-dealing results of evil and human rebellion. Taking all sin upon himself, Jesus becomes our peace, triumphing, once and for all, over Satan and all spiritual authorities and powers that might seek to separate people from God, from one another, and from life in God's kingdom.

Having taken the wages of humanity's sin upon himself, God vindicates Jesus by raising him from the grave. In the resurrection, Jesus breaks the power of sin in all its forms, reconciling the whole world to God the Father and imparting to those who follow Jesus as Savior and Lord the ministry of reconciliation.

Jesus lives as the perfect expression of God's kingdom, teaches the perfect way of living in God's kingdom, gave his life as the perfect means of establishing God's kingdom, was raised as the perfect testimony to the advance of God's kingdom, and sent the Holy Spirit as the perfect guide to direct and empower his people to embody and extend God's kingdom.

It is this vision of God and God's kingdom—one that addresses the full range of the integrated needs of humanity—that shapes the identity and animates the ministry of ITeams. Rooted in the person and work of Jesus Christ and empowered by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we seek to join with God in his work—coming alongside, embodying, announcing, acting, and extending invitations to experience, and understand the fullness of life to be found in God's kingdom.

Appendix

Lausanne Covenant (link)

WEA Statement of Faith (link)