An Interview with Wess Stafford: A Gospel Focused Life and Ministry

Greg Strand – April 1, 2013 2 Comments

There is a very good interview with Wess Stafford in Outcomes 37/1 (Spring 2013), 6-7, on “Finishing Well.”

Our desire as ministers of the gospel is to finish well (Matt. 25:21,23; 2 Tim. 4:7-8). Here are a number of things I most appreciated about what Wess stated. Though he has served with Compassion International for many years, many of those as President and CEO, many of the lessons he has learned are appropriate for those in other kinds of ministries as well, including pastoral ministry in the local church.

  • Humility and gratitude are his responses for what the Lord has allowed him to do.
  • He is committed to the success of his successor.
  • Succession poorly done derails organizations.
  • The commitment to the Christian faith, the gospel, must be shepherded.
    • This consists of both shepherding the culture and stewarding the commitment.
    • It must be centered on Christ and being a servant of his bride, the church.
    • One must not confuse their board of leaders with their major donor program.
    • In the executive leadership team, a pure heart and a humble walk with God with a passion for the Lord are absolutely critical and essential.
    • The way in which money is received can also compromise the centrality of the mission of the gospel.
    • Keep the gospel of Jesus Christ central!
  • Perfection is not required or expected of leaders, but authenticity is.
  • Regarding ministry leaders:
    • Your ministry role should move you deeply;
    • guard your heart;
    • fight for your family;
    • pour yourself into your calling.

As you read and ponder this list, do so prayerfully. Here are a few questions as you do so:

  1. From what he shares, what is most pertinent for where you are in ministry at present?
  2. For those in ministry, what are important lessons you learned, or are learning, that you can share with others?
  3. How do you ensure the gospel remains central in your life and ministry, both in doctrine/proclamation and in functional centrality in the outworking of the gospel truth in ministry?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to An Interview with Wess Stafford: A Gospel Focused Life and Ministry

  1. I would like you to kindly elaborate on the bullet point segment that talks about the way in chich money is received can compromise the credibility of the mission of the Gospel. I ask this because I was in some discussion with some church leaders and the discussion centered on whether it was wrong to received funds from a Casino Mogul to further the Gospel.They even used the examples of the God allowing the Israelites to receive things from the Egyptians when they were leaving the promise land. Is this something that pertained to what Wess Stafford was refering to in that bullet point? If not could you please elaborate on both.

    • Isaac, the context of Stafford’s full statement is important, so here it is:

      “The quickest path to losing your spiritual way is through whom you put on your board. It’s easy to get enamored with celebrity, with powerful names or deep pockets. One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make, even Christian ones, is to confuse their board with their major donor program. Just because a guy can give you a million dollars, that doesn’t mean he can also give you good advice.”

      And I would add, very importantly, that for Stafford the good advice is good and godly advice, centered and rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

      To your other question, that of receiving money received through questionable means, there are differences of opinion. Some think that any and all money can and should be used to further the ministry of the gospel, since it is all God’s money and better to use it for the extension of the ministry of the gospel than in some other less God-honoring way. Others think that “tainted” money should not be used as it calls into question questionable principles of acquiring money, and the Lord is concerned with both means and ends in these matters. The Lord’s work done in the Lord’s way will not lack the Lord’s resources, to use a statement made by Hudson Taylor. The early church missionaries received money from the church, not from the Gentiles (3 Jn. 7-8). This is the direction I lean on these matters.

      These are difficult but real-life issues. I trust this helps.

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