by Judi Chow
Form follows function; function is the result of life; form is the result of design.
I used to be an architect; designing and drawing blueprints were my main responsibilities. Before the actual drawing, an architect needs to know what structure or space it is going to be and who will be using it. Designing a hotel is very different from a hospital; one is for tourists while the other is for patients. Words like “users,” “form,” and “function” were part of my designing process. Yes, budget has to be in the picture also. I did not purposely transfer this process into my ministry practice, but I’ve noticed myself asking questions such as “Who is our target audience?, What purpose do we want to achieve?, and How can we best reach our audience before launching any program?”
Some people share their ministry philosophy as seeking God’s will, then just stepping out by faith and doing it. Isn’t that what Hudson Taylor said? “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” My question then would be how could you be sure it is God’s work and not your own ambition? How can you tell it is God’s way of doing it and not your own preference? Since I am talking about blueprints, I cannot help but think of Biblical examples in building. There is the general guideline of building a house on solid rock as the foundation (Matt. 7:24; Luke 6:48). On the other hand, the Lord gave exact, specific details to Moses in building the tabernacle (Exodus 25-27). How can we apply this to our blueprint for ministry today?
My thinking became clearer when I thought of the role and responsibility of the architect again. When all the designing and drawings are done, it has to be stamped by a licensed architect before it can be submitted to the city to obtain a permit for construction. Now, the question for ministry- do I see myself as the architect doing all the designing, drawing, and just submitting the plans to God for His stamp of approval? Maybe the role of the architect should be reserved for God; I am just a draftsperson in which He might allow me to design part of His plans! If this is the case, I had better listen and talk to the ultimate Architect before lifting a finger on the drawing board. A continual, close communication between architect and designer will ensure the outcome of the project as the architect intended and not just something the designer had drawn up because it looked magnificent on the paper.
If God is the architect, shouldn’t we consult Him in all aspects of ministry? If the ministry belongs to God, wouldn’t He supply us with the blueprint no matter how detailed or brief? Yes, I will continue to ask questions such as: Who is it for?, What is the purpose?, Why should we do it?, and How it can be done best?. But it should be done at the initial planning stage with the ultimate Architect (Get the blueprint first!). Often we ask other designers and coworkers these questions while we are in the midst of ministry (Where is the blueprint during construction?). It really scares me when people say, what blueprint? We are ministering by faith!