Some fellow pastors think I am crazy. I honestly expect that every church should have 100% of the believers in the congregations involved in active ministry. Is this unrealistic to expect that every person in my church who has trusted Christ for salvation would use their gifts and time to serve others? But I find that some pastors are settling for something far less (maybe 20%, 40%, or half their membership).
How can this be glorifying to God? Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12 all proclaim that “each” believer has been gifted for ministry. Therefore, it is obviously God’s plan to involve every Christian.
What if most of your church was involved in life-changing ministry? What if 100% of the members were serving with a great joy and effectiveness? What would that look like? How could that happen.
Alan Nelson, in his book Me to We, believes that the pastor of a church plays a huge role in the percentage of people who serve. A pastor who has the attitude of an “emperor” will be the primary source of ministry and involve very few people (less that 20%). For a church to have 20-40% of the members in active ministry, a pastor is an “engager” who shares ministry with a committed core. A pastor who is an “encourager” will mobilize 40-60% of the members by preaching and teaching stewardship and gifts. Most pastors would see this level as adequate. But God has a greater plan.
Churches that excel in ministry involvement are led by pastors who can be described as an “equipper” or “empowerer.” The “equipper” creates a process for involving people in ministry that can mobilize up to 80% of the members. But the “empowerer” is a minister who has embraced a God-given vision and refuses to settle for mediocrity. He has a ministry philosophy that is not centered around the himself but the people. Nelson writes, “The goal of discipleship is for God’s Word to become incarnate, to be fleshed out in a Christian’s life. Without service, people never really live out the Word. We confuse Bible knowledge with maturity.” (Nelson, 62-63)
Who can read the pages of the Bible and miss the commands of our Lord to serve? Can we claim to follow Christ and refuse to do His will? Can a ministry leader be considered faithful if he only trains a small, elite group of people in ministry?
Ministry is serious business. The stakes are high as the multitude of lives hang in the balance between heaven and hell. We must embrace ministry as God intended and equip believers for the task of the Great Commission- making disciples of our Lord.
This is the final post for this series. You can view the previous posts in this series by following the links below:
Interesting and Important Trends in Volunteer Ministry
A Book Review of Me to We by Alan Nelson