What is your model of ministry based on? What has influenced it most? Is it truly biblical or does it only contain a kernel of biblical truth which has then had layers and layers of world sediment cover over it’s beauty?
I’ve been doing some thinking about this and a number of things have struck me. We live in a culture that is celebrity and platform obsessed. We live in a culture where we pay for, and want, the best. You don’t pay to see a warm up act, if they’re good it’s a bonus. You don’t pay to see the under 23 team you want to see the first 11.
In Exodus when Moses leads Israel out of slavery, he meets his Father-in-law and his Father-in-law is troubled by what he sees in the nascent nation. Israel have a 1 man ministry model, and it is burning Moses out, harming the people, and creating discord in the community. What is the solution? It’s to multiply leaders and for authority to be distributed so that God’s people can be led well and judgments passed that are sound and timely, so that both leaders and people are not worn out.
It struck me that too often we have a leadership structure that is like the Moses pre-Jethro model. It all centres around one man or a small cluster off staff. I wonder if this is particularly so in church planting ministry. One man as the driving force. We may talk of a planting or launch team but actually it usually hinges on one person. But what is especially true of plants is also true to some extent of established churches. We may pay lip service to every member ministry, we may teach it when we reach that part of the book we’re preaching through, but to what extent is it really happening?
Who preaches in your church and how often? Are new young preachers given opportunity alongside teaching and mentoring? What about in terms of leading the service? What percentage of your service are led by someone who is not on staff? What percentage of the preaching is done by someone not on staff? What about pastoral visiting? Who visits and looks to spur others on in their homes? Who does the discipling of young families?
Too many of us in our churches have had our ministry models subtly shaped, and warped, by societies trends. Towards valuing the paid for over the voluntary. Towards wanting everything done by the professionals, the best qualified man or woman for the job. But that isn’t the vision of leadership we see in Exodus, or in the New Testament. And we need to challenge this if we want to see healthy churches, where everyone is being discipled and growing in their faith. Because the top down ministry model will mean the bottle neck will always be the minister/staff’s time. And it means so many gifts are being left untapped and so many become disenchanted with, and disengaged from, church. They joined hoping to play their part, ready and willing to humbly use their God given gifts, grow and develop and be invested in. And yet they have become spectators or consumers because in part that is the culture we have allowed to seep into the church. Maybe it’s time to move ministry model.