Here are some questions we should ask ourselves before starting a ministry:
Let's use the disciples of Christ as an example. Were Peter and the others searching the Help Wanted ads when Jesus called them? No, they were gainfully employed when Christ came to them...
And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)
Jesus called them into his ministry, he didn't ask them what they'd like to do for the Kingdom of God. We should ask ourselves, "What does God want?" Then, find that answer in the scriptures which we'll get to in just a moment.
“Who will get the glory?”
There sure are a lot of enterprises called “ministries” today with someone's personal name attached to them. “Dr. Rev. So And So's Ministry.” Contrast that with the numerous times Jesus healed someone and then told them to be quiet about it. If we're looking for bright lights and recognition, we're probably being moved by our own spirit and not the Holy Ghost.
“Will we keep at this ministry if no one else helps?”
I've seen folks over the years get quickly excited about starting a ministry, but then get quickly discouraged – even bitter - when others didn't jump up and down and get excited with them. They seem to think if God was talking to them, surely God was talking to everyone. That is not the case at all!
Jesus Christ preached truth, healed the sick, and raised the dead and most people still walked away shaking their heads. Then when he was being crucified, all of his disciples forsook him and got out of Dodge! Should we expect anything else? One big test of the validity of ministry is whether we'll still be at it when things get tough, or if we're alone in our endeavors. Ministry is about obedience and service, not about how many others help out or donate. If God has led us to a task, he will provide!
May I make a few suggestions about starting a ministry?
First, get into the Word. The more I read the scriptures the more I find that people didn't go out and start ministries; they preached the Word. Consider the final commands of Christ to his disciples:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)
In Acts, we see this repeated pattern: The word was preached and disciples were multiplied (Acts 6:7) Sounds like God was blessing their obedience. From there, opportunities to serve arose. This is how all ministries should all begin! That's how the role of deacons was established in Acts chapter six. Understanding our spiritual gifting and place in the church will develop as we read, study, and teach the Word.
If our ministry doesn't grow out from the Word, should we really call it a "ministry?" Maybe we should call our neat project, "Our Neat Project" instead of our "ministry."
If we're chomping at the bit to “do something for God” then let's teach Bible Studies! Let God bless our obedience and open the doors. Otherwise, we might be doing our own thing and just attaching “God” to it. That is not ministry. It might be slander!
In my Christian Fiction novel Parting Ways, I write about a minister who chooses to follow God according to the scriptures, and loses his mega-church ministry! But God blesses him in an unexpected way as he obeys and preaches the Word. He learns how to start a ministry from the Word first, not a program first.
Let's take this instruction from Paul to heart and start our ministries off right:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)