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Posts Tagged ‘Ministry’

I’m Baaaack, It has been almost a year since my last post.  I could give you lots of reasons, but you really would not care.  It has been a season of building for our ministry both literally and figuratively.  And writing has never been my forte.  I am going to try to make a priority once a month for people who actually care to read this.  My hope is that it will encourage you to think differently about small church ministry.

I have been fortunate in my life to be associated with some very successful business people.  Many are successful entrepreneurs or people in the top leadership of their companies.  I am like a sponge when I am around them and I ask plenty of questions to see if I can adapt any of those principles to ministry.  Over the years, through those conversations and plenty of reading, I have assembled a series of principles that I have found helpful to ministry.  So I will try and focus on one of those each month for the next year.

FOCUS ON THE PEOPLE, NOT THE JOB.

One of my business mentors explains it this way, When he hears a highly competent and successful person has left a company, he meets with them.  He tries to hire them and create a job for them within his company.  He explained that good people are hard to get and that if you give them the right tools, they will make you money.  He did this with an expensive IT guy and he created a position for him within his company.  The guy brought so many improvements to the company, my mentor more than recouped the guys salary within the first year.

I think this is an area we often miss in ministry.  We establish our programs and then seek people to fill them.  We often fight to fill spots and beg people to serve.  A number of years ago, we joined our youth and adult Sunday School into the same class until we had leaders willing to teach the teens.  I am currently in the process of applying this principle in our ministry to seniors.  God brought a seasoned couple into our church who had served elderly people in a previous ministry.  We created a ministry for them to take communion and regularly visit our shut ins.  We are currently in the process of helping establish an offsite counseling ministry based on this concept.  God brought a person with a passion and background in counseling into our fellowship

It is a different mindset for me in ministry, but a valuable one.  The direction is not driven by my passion, things that I read, trends in ministry, or seminars that I attend.  I believe God will bring us the people if He wants us to have a specific ministry.  In our application of this principle, it is the people and their gifts that drive what ministries we have at any given time.  In other words, we are trying to focus on the people, not the job (or ministry).  Yes at times it is frustrating because we do not offer the ministries that others may offer.  The board and I ask God to simply provide the people.  When someone asks me why we do not have a certain ministry, I explain that we do not have the people (and then I ask if they would pray about helping lead it).  It is an unusual approach, but one that seems to be serving us well.

THOT: What ministries would you add or subtract if you based ministry on the people instead of the program?

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I am reminded of the value of taking a deep breath when things get overwhelming. This past week, the small church world has blown up due to a short clip on YouTube from Andy Stanley’s weekly message. In this clip, he argues passionately for the value of large church ministries and makes some very strong statements regarding small church ministries. He later apologizes saying ” The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend’s message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize.”

So I think it is a good time for all small church people to just take a deep breath. We have all said things on Sunday, we wish we could say differently. The difference is that our messages are not broadcast across the globe each week. Yes, greater impact means greater responsibility, but God has not called us to that ministry, He has called us to small church ministry and remember we are the majority in terms of numbers. God has used North Point and Andy Stanley to do some great things in the Kingdom of God. Let’s not shoot our own.

I understand what He was trying to say. I am a product of the “mega” church. While a teenager, I was in one of the 10 largest churches in America at the time. I was part of a JH/SH Youth Group of 500 and understand the value that it brings. I also have been in rural ministry for the last 24 years. Both have value and one is not better than the other. They both have advantages and disadvantages.

I think the irony is that both seem to idolize the other. The large church seeks to be like the small church by focusing on small groups. The small church seeks to be like the large church by trying to program more activities than they are equipped to handle. Both types of ministries do some things better than others H.B. London used to encourage Pastors to bloom where they are planted. I think that is the best advice for all of us.

THOT: If this issue has gotten under your skin, I would suggest you take a deep breath, accept the apology, and move forward. Let’s focus on the ministry God has called us to do.  Are you blooming where God has planted you?

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