For some reason, whenever I talk to people about ministry, the discussion often ventures into "ministry platforms". I think I have been saying the same thing enough times for me put it down in writing, so that hopefully I don't have to repeat myself as much.
So, here is a FAQ. Nothing here is particularly new, Ministry Training Strategy has been talking about the ministry platform concept for years, and I am grateful for the insight they have provided me.
What is a "ministry platform"?
A ministry platform is a set of structures which provides support to one's ministry of the Word and prayer. These "structures" include things like:
- encouragement, networking and prayer support
- accountability structures
- logistics like meeting places
- finance: having the money to pay/be paid
What's good about ministry platforms?
The good thing about ministry platforms is that you can use the use them to save time. This allows you to have more time actually ministering to people, rather than worrying whether how you should be complying with, say, the Charitable Fundraising Act 1991. Setting up everything from scratch is very time consuming and risky.
Using ministry platforms allows you to learn from the experience of others, so that you can avoid mistakes that have been done in the past.
Using ministry platforms also means that the platforms themselves can have economies of scale, which means lower costs for everyone. Larger denominations can often get special deals on logistics (e.g. telephone), which benefits everyone.
What's bad about ministry platforms?
There is usually a "cost" associated with a ministry platform. They can things such as:
- Bureaucracy and red-tape, which can be frustrating as it takes time to get things done
- Dealing with cultural differences
- Instances where you may need to compromise on your principles, practice or finer points of doctrine
- Weaknesses of others (including politics)
I have a new idea for preaching the gospel. Should I use an existing platform or should I set up my own?
That's the difficult question. I guess you will need to weigh up the good points and the bad points about existing ministry platforms. In some cases, it would be wise to use an existing platform. In others, it may be best to set up your own.
This is a wisdom issue. You should seek the counsel of others, and most importantly, pray.