In this episode of “Now Is the Time” I talk about how faking ministry isn’t really as difficult as some may think and give you 7 tips that will make you look like a ministry superstar and help you climb the ecclesiastical ladder of success.
Here are 3 posts with video and pictures from our Easter weekend.
7 Ways to Fake Ministry
1. Show up to all the big church events
There’s a lot to be said for simply showing up at ministry events. Make sure you have the church calendar handy. Look for events that will probably have a lot of people and a lot of hype around them. These are the ones you want to make sure you show up at. When you do show up, make sure you do it in a way that’s noticeable. This could be done in one of two ways.
Your first option would be to show up early and make sure you greet everyone else as they walk through the front door. They’ll think you had a big part in organizing the event and you’re probably a key person. Don’t worry, you don’t have to actually stay for the whole event. Simply hang out in the back to greet the stranglers and when you sense that everyone has arrived feel free slip away unnoticed.
Your second option is to arrive a little after the event has started but walk in confidently greeting everyone and apologizing for your tardiness. Make sure to explain that you were delayed by other urgent ministry matters. Everyone will immediately sense how vital you are the ministry and they’ll understand that you simply are pressed from all sides for your great ministry skills.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” Mat 6:5
2. Often make little remarks about the unreal demands of ministry
These nonchalant and offhand remarks are powerful little tools that can be used in almost any conversation. You can insert them after any sentence which even vaguely refers to some ministry topic.
“Ministry is 24/7 isn’t it?”
“I understand why Jesus was sleeping in that boat!”
“No day off for me this week!”
“If I could only get a solid 5 hours of sleep!”
“I guess I’ll just have to put off that vacation for another year!”
“I can’t rest now, that’s what heaven’s for!”
It can be helpful to insert a little sigh either before or after you make one of these pity engendering statements.
“Well I better get back to the church, I’ve still got three sermons to prepare and one funeral to do before Sunday! Uuff!”
“And when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, of a sad face. For they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to fast. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” Mat 6:16
3. Use social networks to post ministry selfies
Social networks like Facebook and Instagram have made it easier than ever to fake ministry. You can do it simply and quickly with just a photo and a bit of text. I recommend you find a ministry that’s already going, there’s no need for you to even volunteer and officially be part of the ministry. The most important thing is for you to get a good selfie with your face prominent and the said ministry in the background.
For example, let’s say you just happen to be passing your church on a weekday and you notice a lot of cars in the parking lot. Why not pop in for 5 mins and see what’s going on? If you’re lucky they’ll be serving meals to the elderly or distributing clothing to the needy! Now is your opportunity, not only will you make a good impression on those who have dedicated much of their day to serving but you’ll be able to document it on your social network for eternity!
“Therefore when you do your merciful deeds, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.” Mat 6:2
4. Preach and teach things you are not willing to do yourself
Church people often love a good convicting sermon. At first this may be difficult to do because you’ll feel the conviction too and you might struggle with your own ability to apply what is being taught. Don’t let this stop you! Just keep preaching and raise the standard higher and higher.
Of course you’re not going to be able to meet that standard yourself but that doesn’t matter because simply by preaching that high standard everyone will assume that is how you live at home in private. Give it some time and eventually that nagging feeling of guilt will go away and you’ll be able to exhort people to an impossible standard set by you and judged by you.
“saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do. But do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy and hard-to-carry burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders. But they will not move them with one of their fingers.” Mat 23:2-4
5. Cozy up to popular ministry leaders
There’s probably no better way to give the impression of ministry than to cozy yourself up with prominent ministry leaders. Once again you can leverage the power of social media to show that you are on good terms with Pastor _____ or that the president of _______ seminar considers you his “buddy.”
Your people will soon understand how important and vital you are ministry.
“And they love the first couch at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,” Mat 23:6
6. Create a title for yourself
A good title is always helpful in creating ministry perceptions. Whether it’s pastor, doctor, reverend, evangelist, missionary, president, director, ceo. Find something other than simply for first name and then make sure that everyone knows that you are not longer “John Smith” but now you are “Professor Smith” or “Bishop Smith.”
“and greetings in the market-places, and to be called, Rabbi! Rabbi! by men.” Mat 23:7
7. Focus on public perceptions
When it’s all said and done people can only see what they can see with their eyes. Thus, your focus ought to be on making sure everything they see concerning you screams “ministry.” This may mean you need to buy a saintly suite, don some clerical clothing, and gather your godly garb.
Do everything you can to meet the perception of a highly spiritual, holy, and contrite man of God. Never let them see any of your mistakes, personal sins, or unsightly tendencies. Show them what they want to see, an unreal holiness that is less than skin deep!
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which indeed appear beautiful outside, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also appear righteous to men outwardly, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Mat 23:27-28
The temptation to fake ministry isn’t far from you and me. It’s the part of our sin nature that fears man more than God. It’s the lie that I will be happy if other people praise my actions or honor me. It sneaks in quietly and slowly fills the voids in heart that I have not filled with God’s glory!
The temptation to fake ministry is primarily a heart problem. It comes from a heart that has been too long empty of the fear of God, the glory of God, and the worship of God. I wrote this post because I fear fake ministry. I fear that I could fall in with the Pharisees, that what I do publicly would not match who I am privately! In a way I think this is a good fear to have, I must always be on my guard, I must always check the heart intentions of my actions, I must always pursue God privately before I pursue ministry publicly!
Here are a few brief points that help me to pursue sincere and honest ministry.
1. Make all ministry preparations first personal preparations
I must never allow myself to think that I’m preparing this sermon, this Bible study, this children’s lesson primarily for others. All Bible study, all preparation I do for ministry teaching has as its first goal to change my own heart, to led me to worship at the foot of the cross. If my preparations are not leading me towards real heart worship of God I will be forced to fake ministry. Furthermore, if I feel like this teaching is below me or like I’ve “arrived” I will stop growing and my heart will soon be filled with plastic passions and superficial spirituality.
Paul David Tripp speaks of the importance of personal worship in ministry
It is my worship that enables me to lead others to worship. It is my sense of need that leads me to tenderly pastor those in need of grace. It is my joy in my identity in Christ that leads me to want to help others live in the middle of what it means to be “in Christ.” In fact, one of the things that makes a sermon compelling is that the preacher is worshiping his way through his own sermon.
2. Be honest with others about my own sin
I don’t think we need to share in detail with everyone about every sin in our life. What I mean about being honest about my own sin with others is that I must make sure that I communicate a humbleness and a certain level of brokenness to others. I must speak to all to whom I minister as one sinner to another, not as a “holy man” to a sinner. I want the people of my church to know that I have struggles too. Sometimes when I feel like others have too high of an opinion about me I’ll intentionally share a personal struggle with them.
Working to keep up appearances that are sometimes created in the minds of others will always a burdensome task and will never end well for either me or those who view me higher than they should.
This may be exactly why Paul was given his “thorn in the flesh” and why he shared this problem with the Corinthian Church.
“For if I desire to boast, I shall not be foolish. For I will speak the truth. But I spare, lest anyone should think of me as being beyond what he sees me, or hears of me;” 2Co 12:6
3. Allow others to minister to me
Loneliness is a ministry killer. Too many pastors feel alone and practically they are alone. They are the source of all ministry in their church and yet no one ministers to them. This is not biblical and it is dangerous. If I am to keep a healthy spiritual life, if I am to grow in my passions for Christ, I need others to minister to me. That means I need to be honest enough with myself to know that I need help and humble enough to allow that to happen.
I need brothers close to me to can tell me when I’m wrong, teach me, encourage me, pray for me.
Concerning the problem of pastoral isolation Paul David Tripp writes:
“An intentional culture of pastoral separation and isolation is neither biblical nor spiritually healthy.”
“How is it that in many situations we have come to expect that the one leading the body of Christ can do well spiritually while getting less of the ministry of the body of Christ than everyone he has been called to lead?”
“Pastor, make sure you are being pastored the entire time you are pastoring others. Seek out a mature and reliable person with whom you can share your heart. Work to build with that person a sturdy bond of trust. Refuse to live without this kind of person in your life. Meet with this individual as frequently as possible. Share your struggles with him and be humble enough to listen when pastorally spoken to.”
As you may have guessed Paul David Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling has helped me understand some of the vital issues behind why ministers fall into a fake ministry approach. You can find the book on Amazon here.