Many years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to walk where Jesus walked as I visited what is often called “the Holy Land.” The trip was everything that a young pastor would want, and my heart and spirit were touched many times by so many things. For the sake of brevity, and to avoid launching into what might turn into boring detail, I won’t list the full itinerary – you’re welcome – but I do want to share one moment in which I caught a quick look at something historically fascinating.

It was a Monday, which is a BIG day at the Western or “Wailing” Wall at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Why? Because Monday is bar mitzvah day at that very holy place. And adolescent Jewish boys come from all over the world with family and friends to read from ancient Torah scrolls for the very first time. What a celebration it was! Fathers and uncles carried their sons and nephews on their shoulders as together they danced and sang the songs of Zion.

But there, over in the corner hidden from view, beyond the crowds of chanting men, near where the Torah scrolls were kept, I noticed two or three men looking down a three-foot rectangular hole. Captured by my curiosity, I made my way to the side of the hole, looked into its depths, and asked the others, who fortunately for me spoke English, exactly what it was at which I was looking. One drew close, pointing into the depths, “There, down at the bottom, those are the foundation stones laid in the days of King David.” For a moment I lost my breath, then I was drawn in yet even deeper. Peering into the darkness and faint light below, I saw them, maybe twenty feet down, the huge stones upon which the original Temple had been built and each later holy place that would follow. Those foundation stones seemed so strong, so unshakeable, so unmovable.

I prayed that the foundation stones of my life and ministry would be so strong.

What are foundation stones?

Foundation stones are the big things, of course, the things that drive life and ministry forward. Purpose and values are foundation stones. Calling and depth are foundation stones. So are the quality of relationships and the quality of one’s walk with God. Those types of things are what make the biggest of differences. They change or at least alter who you are and what you do in ministry.

Strong foundation stones will change your church and what it does, how it looks at itself and how it looks at the world. Click To Tweet

Choosing scripture as a foundation is pretty common for both individual Christians and for churches. A statement of mission or purpose can be a foundational piece. In youth ministry an emphasis on the development of spiritual leadership in young people can be foundational. It’s the really big things and ideas!

So why do we get so distracted by smaller, more shallow things?

Why do we get stuck on choosing paint colors and wallpaper?

Why do we get caught up in and distracted by things of lesser value? Why is it that we get so involved in smaller ideas that are surface level, akin to choosing paint colors (or “wallpaper” as Mark DeVries likes to say)?

Unfortunately, we’re human. We want to look good, and we want our ministries to look good. We want to be the coolest, the most “relevant,” the sharpest sounding, the biggest, the flashiest looking.


…sometimes even the biggest and flashiest looking ministries are crumbling from underneath because the foundation may be shallow or poorly formed. Click To Tweet

At Ministry Architects we see that from time to time, and working on the foundation stones is one of the things that we do first.


…sometimes it is the smallest or seemingly poorest ministries that are having the mightiest impact, because they are built on the mightiest of foundations. Click To Tweet

So what can you do, especially if you question your foundation?

If it’s for you personally, start with the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, worship, and prayer. Then seek fellowship with people of depth in faith, share your doubts and your weakness if you really want to grow, if you really want to have a strong foundation.

If you believe that God is calling your church or ministry to do a foundation check, it’s time to bring together a group that can take a good strong look at what is underneath, below the paint and wallpaper, the soul of who you are and who you are becoming.


So look way down deep. Peer into the darkness down at the faint light below to see what is undergirding your ministry. If you want to talk it through, email me at I would love to spend some time helping you to do that foundation check.

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