Sometimes it can be highly educational to be a "fly on the wall" in a room where you're not the primary audience. In that vein, here's a blog Jeff wrote for church leaders who are considering Watermark's Church Leaders Conference in May. The post has a lot to say about us - the Church - and how we can live out God's purpose.
When you think about your leadership at your church, what do you think is the greatest gift you can give your people?
Is it terrific preaching? A bold vision? A compelling weekend experience? Those are all great things, but what if I told you that one of the greatest gifts we, as leaders, can give our church is the “gift” of the ministry itself?
Here are three key benefits that come when we give ministry to our people and allow them to take responsibility for it.
1. We can stop "recruiting" for need and start INSPIRING toward purpose.
You are leading an army, not an audience.
“Be all you can be!” I still remember those commercials for the Armed Services as a kid. They inspired me to rise to meet a challenge, to push myself, and to serve a cause that was far bigger than myself. They didn’t recruit; they inspired. And yet, it is easy for us to default to laying out our ministry “needs” and asking for more volunteers to fill the empty slots.
Your people have been crafted by God for God. They have been given tremendous gifts, skills, and passions. They know we serve a great God that is doing great things to advance his Kingdom! A recent Barna study revealed that 98% of Evangelicals see their faith as a force for good in the world. They know God has a purpose and plan for them. And they want to be deployed!
Inspire your people with a vision for transformation that can only happen when God’s people participate in God’s plan for God’s glory!
2. We can stop "doing ministry" and start equipping FOR ministry
We church leaders are equippers, disciplers, and coaches.
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was about a year into my ministry role, when I sat in my office exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually - and staring at a to-do list the length of my arm. A senior leader gently reminded me that I had flipped the focus and that I had not been hired on staff to “do” ministry but to equip the saints for ministry.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV)
Another way to say it is, “As leaders, we need to stop doing ministry TO people and instead do ministry THROUGH people.”
There continues to be this way of thinking that while the body may bring financial support and some sweat equity, it is really the church staff who lead, drive, and execute on the ministry.
We work so hard to tear down this barrier at Watermark that when someone comes to us with a great ministry idea, we say, “Well that sounds great, John! Are you willing to lead that effort?”
3. Our members stop "going to church" and start BEING the Church.
This is something many of us learned in our first biblical Greek class - that the “church” was never a place, but rather a gathering of people who’d been transformed by God. And yet, a cursory glance at our present culture tells us that most think church is just something we “do” on Sundays (and sometimes mid-week too).
Asking people to take ownership of the ministry calls them out of the spectator mentality and moves them toward a more full devotion, engaging their whole person in the work or Christ - and “building up the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
We love to see thriving lay-led ministry, because we believe it’s biblical. But we also know that God uses empowered service to grow and develop his saints into healthy, equipped disciples, who can then disciple others.
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And if you know a church leader who should come to Church Leaders Conference, let them know!