Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Robertson McQuilkin's book, The Five Smooth Stones: Essential Principles for Biblical Ministry, (B&H Publishing Group, 2007).

You work hard to do your best in ministry. But if your efforts don't seem to be accomplishing much, it's time to ask yourself whether or not you're following biblical standards. Evaluating your ministry by these standards regularly can make the difference between failure and success.

Here are five essential principles for doing ministry biblically:

1) Make the Bible your functional authority. Recognize that the Bible, in its entirety, is the ultimate authority for faith and practice. Make a habit of studying the Bible diligently, objectively, and thoroughly. Look at every activity, plan, new idea and old tradition through the lens of Scripture to see whether or not it is consistent with Scripture. When evaluating the biblical authority of a doctrine or activity, ask these questions: "What is the basic idea behind this?", "Is this commanded in Scripture? Is there an explicit declaration of the will of God?", "If not commanded, is it obviously required by clear biblical principle?", "If not required, is it permitted by scriptural teaching, compatible with Scripture?", "Have I brought this into alignment with all biblical data that might be related, whether directly or indirectly?", "Does the emphasis represented by this activity maintain balance with all other related biblical truth in such a way as to maintain the biblical emphases?" and "If this is extrabiblical, am I careful to make this fact clear and divest it of ultimate authority both in my own thinking and in the way it is presented?". Be aware of the postmodern concepts that are currently popular in education, entertainment, and the media, and counter wrong concepts (such as the notion that commitment is foolish) with biblical truth (how commitment reflects real love and benefits everyone involved). Evaluate your church's counseling, preaching, and teaching against Scripture to test its health.

2) Align your congregation with biblical purposes. Emphasize that worship is something your congregation should do in every part of their lives - not just during a weekend church service.  Focus your church's music ministry on God rather than the people who perform, and give all people in the congregation opportunities to participate in the songs spiritually and emotionally. As you try to make disciples through your teaching ministry, make sure that people can join small groups to help them be accountable for their spiritual growth and get the support and encouragement they need. Do your best to care for your church members' emotional, physical, and material needs, such as by providing counseling, help with medical bills, and job training and opportunities. Make sure your church has ministries designed to promote the welfare of your local community, and other communities throughout the world, as well.

3) Release the Holy Spirit's energizing power. Identify the spiritual gifts and natural talents necessary to accomplish each purpose of the church, such as: the gifts of preaching, teaching, and administration; the ability to lead people to worship in spirit and in truth; the ability to proclaim God's truth through preaching with life-changing authority; the ability to teach the Bible in such a way that lives are changed; the ability to discern a person's spiritual need and give wise counsel; the ability to see practical needs among those in the congregation and to meet them; the ability to win people to faith; and the ability to minister to the physical and social needs of the community in a way that draws people toward God. Help every church member discover, fully develop, and deploy his or her gifts and talents to serve the church and the world as God is calling them to do. Whenever a purpose for your church isn't being optimally fulfilled, pray for the Holy Spirit to help in that situation. Encourage all church members to pray often - not just about their own physical needs, but about the spiritual needs of people they know, people in their community, and people throughout the world who haven't yet heard the Gospel. Urge them to pray faith-filled prayers that show they eagerly expect God to respond. Show your congregation how to depend daily on the Holy Spirit's unlimited power, instead of just their own limited abilities.