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Ministry ABCs

Here from Jeff McSwain (national coordinator of the GCI-USA Intern Program) is a list from A to Z of practices that exemplify an incarnational-relational approach to ministry.


Appropriate with all relationships

Build a relationship as if you are going to know the person for the rest of your life


Do the unexpected (random acts of kindness, shoot a text just to let them know you are thinking about them)

Eye contact (don’t look over the shoulder of the person you’re talking with to scan for others)

Family (learn to see the person more and more in his/her family context)

Go wherever folks congregate (especially those disinterested in God)

Hi! Be the first to say hi. Initiate with people and see where the Spirit leads.

Identify without being identical (when confronted with questionable stuff, don’t condemn but don’t condone)

Joke around without sarcasm (avoid “one-upmanship” while building up)

Keep your word

Listen sincerely (don’t be leaning towards “the next thing”)

Make them the experts; find opportunities for them to teach you (very difficult when you’re not interested!)

Notice their achievements (be ready for “How did you know?” If it’s publicly available it’s not stalker-ish!)

Open-ended questions (“So tell me about the team this year, how’s it looking?” vs. “Is the team going to be good?”)

Pick up where you left off (“How is your grandmother doing?” “How did that science test go?”)

Quit while you’re ahead (before their awkward, “Uh, sorry, but I gotta go”)

Remember names (“A person’s name is the sweetest sound to them in any language.” – Dale Carnegie)

Show up just to see them and or support them (not to invite them to something) 90% of success is showing up!

Talk about what they are interested in

Understand before being understood (They don’t care how much you know ‘til they know how much you care!)

Vary levels of contact (see, talk, do, deepen—don’t underestimate the value of level one: simply being seen)

With-ness before witness (nothing communicates like consistent presence)

Xpert on your community (newspaper, websites; notice and attend community or school events)

Yearbook is your friend (use it to familiarize yourself with the school culture)

Zealous in prayer before, during and after (God is in charge—give him your successes and failures)

One thought on “Ministry ABCs”

  1. Thanks, Jeff

    These practical incarnational relationship ideas are very helpful. Keep them coming.

    I have been going to a gym at THE SAME TIME every day for about a year now and sit in the sauna for a few minutes to intentionally meet others who come at the same time also. I have developed numerous friendships that have led to lunches together and discussions of Christianity. Some are even seeking advice from me. It really works!

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