freely-10076-preview-973x649Jesus started his ministry with the end in mind. The first thing we see Jesus do is find his replacements. He did this because he knew that his time on earth was limited and that he had to pass his ministry on to those who would follow in his footsteps. We often think of ministry succession being thought of at the end of a ministry. Jesus planned for it all along. He was constantly taking his crop of recruits to new places, teaching them new things and, at times, sending them to do and say what they saw and heard him do and say.

We will all be followed by someone, whether we are a minister, elder or even a member in the congregation. Someone will fill our slot. So let us start with the end in mind and equip along the way. When you do that you will notice that ministry multiplies as you get more hands on deck from the beginning rather than at the end. You will also find transition to be easier when it is needed because everyone already knows what to do.

We can make sure class happens. We can make sure we have a song leader for Sunday. We even need to make sure someone is on tap to teach the children’s classes…but don’t ever let the urgent take priority over the most important things you can and should do. Let us involve more people in the ministry process. There will be more ownership of the ministry as well as more people ready to run with things in the event transition needs to take place. This changes our ministry paradigm from how much ministry I can do to how we can serve together.

6 Responses

  1. You make it too easy, Matt! Let’s do things the way Jesus did things, say goodbye to paid ministry and let us change the paradigm – drastically, and Biblically!

    You made a statement that hurt, deeply – “We will all be followed by someone, whether we are a minister, elder or even a member in the congregation…” “Even” a member in the congregation? That almost sounds derogatory!

    We are ALL called to be imitators of God – “even” members of the congregation.
    We are ALL called to be ministers – “even” members of the congregation.
    We are ALL called to be proclaimers of the message – “even members of the congregation.
    We are ALL called to be teachers – “even” members of the congregation.

    1. I wrote “even” because even though we say we have no clergy/laity divide it still exists in practice. My aim was not just as ministers and elders but at everyone. We are all called to be involved. I get the feeling that is why you said “almost sounds derogatory” because I think you got the sense that I was after and that isn’t derogatory in the least 🙂

      As far as paid ministers go. Jesus and the 12 received financial assistance. There is nothing wrong with that. So as you said “let’s do things the way Jesus did things…” and that doesn’t mean we must say goodbye to paid ministry.

  2. I can find plenty of examples of missionaries being paid, Matt – but not a single one of the located preacher on the payroll of the local congregation. i can even find a basis for paying elders, but not for the located preacher on the payroll of the local congregation.
    And, the simplicity is amazing – when ALL of us “even” members do what is expected and modeled, wo don’t even need a located preacher on the payroll of the congregation!

    1. I am a firm believer that our model of congregational life is quite institutional and that we would be healthier with some adjustments in many instances. I don’t see a need or have a desire to stand as a critic over the way a particular congregation handles its affairs.

      To your point, there are many things we do that don’t have an example in the New Testament. With the principles and examples we do have in scripture (Jesus being supported, Paul talking about compensation for ministry, etc) I am comfortable with a congregation paying a minister to devote their life to the ministry of the congregation and community. There is nothing godless about that. That doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t or shouldn’t look at other approaches because I agree with you that with a paradigm change much of if not all of our ministry could be done “in house”. I do think there are certain things that would go lacking with that approach but it could be superior in other ways. Just my two cents. Thanks or the conversation.

  3. It would be such a total change in our being “church.” Money available to truly make an impact on poverty and mission!
    When, on an average, 85% of congregational budgets go up in real estate and payroll, I cannot help but wonder what He would say, not having but a rock to lay down his head…
    It also makes me wonder how serious we are about being a Pilgrim people, when we build cathedrals and own “choice parcels” of land…

  4. The attitude of John the Baptist, that we find in Jesus’ teaching of dying to self, is so necessary: “He must increase; I must decrease”. It is so emotionally difficult for church leaders to think of someone else “filling their slot”. We want to believe no one can be like us. But we all must eventually climb Mount Nebo. And when we do, God’s children will continue to be led, fed and protected..

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