Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Dr. Stephen Phinney
Do you feel alone in ministry? No problem!
"One of your men puts to flight a thousand, for the LORD your God is He who fights for you, just as He promised you. (Joshua 23:10)
Charles Spurgeon once said:
Why count heads? One man with God is a majority though there be a thousand on the other side. The Lord’s hosts are never too few.
When God would found a nation, He called Abram alone and blessed him. When He would vanquish proud Pharaoh, He used only Moses and Aaron. The ‘one-man ministry’ has been far more used of the Lord than trained bands with their officers. Did all the Israelites together slay so many as Samson alone? Saul and his hosts slew their thousands, but David his ten thousands.
If we have God with us; what are multitudes of men? One shepherd’s dog can drive before him a great flock of sheep. If the Lord sent you, His strength will accomplish His divine purpose. Therefore, rely on the promise, and be courageous.
Our culture today considers the success of a ministry by the size of the institution that drives it. Another known fact. The leaders of institutions are frequently in the news as “fallen leaders,” or, minimally, scoped into Satan’s cross-hairs for destruction.
Myriads of teachers, evangelists, and prophets of our day tend to believe the larger their ministry, the more successful they are. The Truth being said, the larger their ministry, the greater temptation to be enveloped by the identity of their ministry. A more common misnomer – the larger their ministry, the more apt the masses will financially support their endeavors.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on keeping large ministries afloat – primarily by hard-working poverty level donors. Which begs the question, “How much of my donor dollars are reaching the needs of the people or advancing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” Good question.
As I watch the implosion of the Church today, I see God calling forth ‘one-man ministries.’ Returning the Church to the original foundation that advanced the message(s) of God. In every case in the Bible, God started with one man, imparted a message, and sent him forth to proclaim His message of Truth. Think about it – Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samual, David, Solomon, all the Old Testament prophets, NT Disciples, Apostles, and the list goes on and on – all men & women of God’s method of ‘one-man ministries.’ When you look at the titles of the books of the Bible, almost all of them are labeled under the banner of a ‘one-man ministry.’ Never did He mandate these leaders to establish an institution – not even an institutional or organized church. As soon as a ministry shifts from the messenger to an institution, Satan gains access to washing out the message, minimally deludes it into a liberal ideology. It works in most cases. Why? It is elementary, my dear, Watson. The minister who was called to proclaim the Lord’s message is swept up in the institution’s maintenance.
More importantly, these ministry leaders become all about protecting their message through copyrights and the defensive posture of protecting the institution rather than the message owned by the Lord through the Holy Spirit. I believe that the “church” has used the madness of copyright to bind the Holy Spirit from accomplishing the Lord’s mission – go into the world and make disciples of Christ. Today we need the permission of institutions to advance the indwelling Life of Jesus. Humm – this seems up-side-wrong.
Why did messengers get caught up in institutions?
That is an easy question to answer. The modality of 501c & 501c3 tax exemption statuses. Also known as government monitored non-profits. Why in God’s name would we hand over the Lord’s ministries to the government to monitor? Money. Without this government-approved status, people typically don’t give. They give to get back the donation on their annual tax filings – literally returning their “sacrificial giving” to their pockets. Covertly speaking, it deletes the method of giving Jesus advanced…
"But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:3-4)
If you are interested in knowing why God the Father is not rewarding the “church” as a whole, this is it.
First, we have the general mandate of preserving righteousness, that is, Jesus’s method of giving. The reason is to avoid the demonic modality of giving for the sake of display or a return, and that principle is then applied to our method of ministry, prayer, and fasting - the three ideologies into which the Jews maintained their devotion to the Laws of Moses. Since Jesus came to fulfill the Law, He is re-establishing this mandate under the banner of Grace.
Giving and the method we do the giving are very revealing! Today we are more apt to put our giving in the window of the “church” and national governments – resulting in the God-ordained ‘one-man ministries’ drying up on the vine. While forgetting this madness method grants our enemies to track how and who we are attempting to advance, our method of giving in our culture today is OPPOSITE of the guideline of Jesus – giving in secret. Without question, this sets us up to be hypocrites unto the Lord. The Greek word for hypocrite means stage actor. A modality that our Lord is not fond of.
Here you have the primary reason ‘one-man ministries’ switch from a messenger to an institution. However, there is a darker reason. Most leaders love power & control. This happens to be the most offensive reason why the masses are running from Christian institutions. Furthering the present-day implosion of the “church.” While many institutions are freaking out, all this is great news.
Now, my prediction.
I believe this single issue will ignite the Great Apostacy. Since the love of money is the root of all evil, I am confident that our Lord will remove the public money from institutions and redirect them into His authentic ministries, move the institution from organizations to ‘one-man ministries,’ and reactivate His organic mission, which is, one man + one message = One Mission. It might sound like God’s plan is selfish, or it advances ‘one-man,’ it does not. In all cases of God igniting His ministry with a single man – it was to advance and protect His people. Here is a true statement. History proves that before the government monitored non-profits through their licenses were put in place; the mission field progressed all the more. All individual teachers, preachers, prophets, and pastors need funding to advance the Gospel in the world today. As in the case of all integral workers of God, the giver's resources are more apt to find their way to the mission field.
Are you one of those ‘one-man’ ministries?
If you are, at times, you probably feel lonely and isolated. You should because you are. Always remember that you are in good company. All of the Lord’s ministers were ‘one-man ministers’ throughout the Word. The world is shifting away from spiritually & financially supporting the one-man bands while moving their loyalty to the big boys. We live in a culture of Big Tech, Big Corporations, and Big Ministries. Each believing bigger is better. But, know this, I believe the day is coming that our Lord will bring an end to this madness method - soon.
As a ministry leader, I watch the cultural trends, but I also watch the paper trail - watching the economic trends within our churches. Since the love of money is the root of all evil, I have found this the best method to track the evil trends of our enemy.
My encouragement to you.
Keep your head up. Remember to focus on the single mission that Jesus has given to you. Don’t replicate the models of Big Ministries – it is a trap. Years ago, the Lord made it clear to me to reveal to the church of Laodicea (lukewarm “believers”) the difference between being a “Christ-follower” and that of being indwelt by the Life of Christ. While I use the modern modalities of advancing this message, the message is always the same. Do as I do. Make use of the resources around you to advance the message God gave TO you. Do this until death parts you. Endure to the end with His message. Be well pleased with being that ‘one-man’ God uses to cement His message into a depraved world. And never forget, you are not alone. The Lord not only sees your diligence in lonely places, but He also records them in His Book of Life. Your reward might seem minuscule on this side, but once you pass over to His eternity, your rewards will be great.
So that you know, our ministry works diligently to be a shoe-string ministry. Meaning, we have zero paid staff, including my wife and me. However, we have hundreds of volunteer workers helping us get the message of “Not I, but Christ” to a hurting world. So…how do we get paid? If individuals or corporations donate to our ministry, we use those funds to advance the ministry. As for salaries, it is all done by missionary giving. Meaning, if someone gives to a particular worker, those funds are given to the worker to sustain their living expenses.
What about those of us who are institutions?
For all of us seated under the banner of the government’s non-profit status, our days are numbered. Our present White House Administrations are presently working on new guidelines for churches and non-profits to track donors for tax reasons. Rumor has it; they desire to tax the church and our country’s non-profits. Be it true or not, we need to prepare ourselves to revert to the old-school giving model – give without a return. Our ministry is preparing today for such possible changes to governmental control over the Lord’s ministries.
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1Peter 5:8)
While the enemy makes use of his insatiable appetite for devouring the Lord’s workers and their ministries, we need to stay alert. We must protect the message He has given to each ‘one-man,’ who is called to fulfill the mission ordained by the Living God.