Humans were created to live in relationship with one another.

In Genesis we read that God knew Adam would need more fulfilling relationships than simply having nature – humans need humans. (Genesis 2:18)

The foundational key to discipleship is relationship: This is how humanity exists and why Jesus endured the cross. Without relationships, discipleship fails. Thriving and sustainable churches understand that every ministry (from the welcome team to the worship band to the nursery volunteers and beyond) must build a culture that values people over programs. While programs are important to reach our mission to preach the Gospel, they are nothing more than a tool to further the mission.

We know relationships are key, but along the way church ministries start moving away from relationships into ministry management. Let’s be honest, relationships are tough! To be invested relationally with others means that you are committing your time, energy, finances, and care to a smaller group of people. It is far easier to serve on the outskirts of relationships than to be invested in others’ lives. So many fail to invest relationally and are consumed with busywork inside the church.

Below are three habits that, when left unaddressed, can hinder relational ministry.

3 Habits That Hinder Relational Ministry

  1. Affirming the Ministry Without Partnering in Mission

Pastors know that you agree with the student ministry. If you didn’t affirm it, you would be seeking to serve at another church. Ministries do not need a head nod of approval but committed partners who are rolling up their sleeves to do work. Partners invest relationally.

  1. Asking About People Instead of Using Direct Communication 

As a youth pastor and I chatted over coffee a few weeks ago, we discussed a weird phenomenon that church members fall into. It is the thought that asking other people about a person is the same as directly asking the person. Confused yet? Some people would rather pick up the phone and text 12 people to ask why someone has missed church instead of directly talking to the person who wasn’t there. If we are going to build relational ministries we need people to check in and minister directly to those in their small groups. 

  1. Serving People Without Investing in People

Handing out a bottle of water with your church’s name is an easy way to say you are doing ministry without actually building relationships. As I stated above, ministry happens through relationships and at times those relationships will be frustrating, costly, and time consuming. Ministry leaders must avoid service opportunities that promote service that is void of relationships. Don’t get me wrong, serving in tangible ways meets immediate needs, but if you never build a relationship you will never be able to make lasting impact.

Now What?

In what areas are your ministries avoiding investing relationally?



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