Monday, November 15, 2010

Turning a Big Ship with a Small Rudder

I have been part of a discussion that asked this question: Spiritual Maturity - why wouldn't Christian leadership want their people to achieve it? Of course most of the respondents had a bone to pick with pastors that were prideful, greedy, controlling, afraid of folks with strong gifting and things like that. All of which are problems in the church.

I have a different view.

It appears that the consensus is that somehow leadership likes to keep folks uneducated. I agree, there are lot of pastors that probably like control, the limelight, and are wounded; finding a false sense of value in their job.

The real question for me, is: "How did we get here?"

If you think about it, church structure is pretty much a business model in most countries - especially in America. The pastor is the CEO of his church, compete with salary and perks. He may surround himself with a few elders to support him. Much like the president's cabinet. They are not elected, they are chosen. For the spirit-led pastor, this is a wonderful opportunity to staff for his or her weaknesses - some don't.

I don't believe that leaders want Christians to be pathetic, anemic, babies forever. I think that as a church and a religious institution, we have simply, limited the options of leaders and followers - in some cases severely.

Paul wrote many times about how we are supposed to be a body with spiritual and service gifts. These gifts are varied (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4), and they are "body parts" that make up the local and global church. Unless leaders are able to recognize and organize these gifts, the church largely becomes a Jesus play; complete with music and a script. The fans will come and spectate once or twice a week, but few will participate.

The list of options for serving is usually short. Pastor, elder, deacon, ministry leader or ministry worker - or spectator. I happen to think there is a lot more to it. the mold is usually set too, where certain giftings go unrecognized.

The discipling model in the Bible is foundationally defined in Ephesian 4. It describes a leadership for the local church that includes supporting roles for the pastoral, evangelical and teaching ministries. It is about training and equipping the saints to do the work of ministry which is as diverse as cleaning toilets to raising the dead.

Many churches approach members about joining some of the established ministries with the typical "we have these ministries, and need to fill the slots." It is the plight of many churches. I once belonged to church where the pastor often picked up that sanctuary of bulletins and coffee cups left behind from a service. He decided that this was not the best use of his time, and put a request for someone to volunteer to do it. No one did, and he left the sanctuary as it was. Of course the person that vacuumed each week noticed. The pastor told her not to worry about it and they left it until Sunday. Some folks complained, and he simply said that he was to busy to do it, but would welcome their help.

How can you complain if you are not going to be part of the solution?

It is easy to create programs and look for volunteers. I am not always sure that is God. I do believe that if a church has a building that it needs to be cleaned, it should be. That could be a paid or volunteer position, but it needs to get done.

What if we just find out what people are passionate about (gifted), and see if we can create some ministries from that? That's sort of my approach.

I have a friend that only wants to visit folks in the hospital and keep in touch with them every day of their stay. I think it is awesome, and I am sure his church will get behind it.

There is a down side to passion based ministry too. If a church needs children's workers, and no one wants to do it, then what? Now they have to decide if the are going to continue pleading for workers, or close the ministry until someone has passion for it.

We need Jesus to build the church! Honestly, he's really good at it if we let him.

How about you, are you involved in ministry? Did you create it, or volunteer for one that already existed?


photogr said...

Good points here David.

I have noticed some ministry leaders feel intimidated should a follower aspire to develop a ministry different from the scheduled status quo or come up with a new effective program.

This is not from my own experiences but from others that had good ideas but were put down because it did not fit into the church aganda or the leaders ideas on what was important to them.

Who knows when God has spoken to these people with a different idea and ordained them to start a new ministry. For the leaders to refuse to at least consider the proposals is probably refusing to listen when God speaks.

Charlie Chang said...

Your last point about if nobody wants to work in the nursery should they shut it down is interesting.

My answer? No they shouldn't shut it down. Because there's love. And love has to do things sometimes it doesn't want to do.

Just like in my marriage, I don't want to do dishes or take the slack when my wife is sick but I know I should, even if I'm not passionate about it.

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

I think a common problem is someone gets passionate about something, starts a ministry, but eventually the fire isn't as strong and the church struggles to find people to keep carrying it on. but then again trying to fit square people into round holes is problematic too.

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