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One of the biggest mistakes I have made through the years in ministry is ‘doing’ ministry rather than equipping others to do ministry. I would often tell myself, “I’m the only one who can do this”, or “If I want it done right, I have to be in the middle of it.” One of the biggest traps was feeling that “This is what is expected of me in this position.” I’ve talked to many other ministers who have fallen into the same traps. It seems as though we have a martyr complex or an extreme need to feel needed. This drives us to ‘do’ more than we should and ‘equip’ others less. We rationalize that everything I am doing are good things. And the truth is they probably are good things. But your good things may be someone elses ‘God’ things. By not letting go we overwork ourselves and rob someone else of what they were made to do. On the bright side, this leads to a type of job security when we make ourselves indispensable. But this is a short term approach to ministry because we can’t keep up this pace. This is why out of every 10 who start out in ministry, only 1 will actually retire in ministry.
So I have decided that, as best I can, I am going to do ministry as scripture outlines in Ephesians 4:11-16. Verses 11 and 12 are worth spending some time exploring, because these verses help those who are pastors and teachers understand their purpose. I am going to work hard at replacing myself in ministry so that I can continue to build others up and help them become who God made them to be. I am going to ‘do’ less and ‘equip’ more. This doesn’t mean that I am taking the easy way out. It is actually harder at times to let go and equip than it is to just ‘do it yourself’. But I am not looking for a short term solution. I desire to build and invest in His kingdom and see results that will outlive me.
I have kept a portion of a page copied out of a study bible posted in a visible place on my desk to remind me of what it is I am supposed to be doing. Below is what I copied. (I would site the source, but I am not sure which bible it came from.)
Equipping is a tough job, much harder than shepherding. The leader is to equip others for ministry. Paul explains the goal for the shepherd (Ephesians 4:12) and the goal of the sheep (4:13), he then describes the result (4:14-16). If leaders wish to equip their people they must give them certain gifts:
- I must CARE for them (Communication, Affirmation, Recognition, and Example).
- I must work on their weaknesses, but work out their strengths.
- I must give them myself (time, energy, and focus).
- I must give them ownership of the ministry.
- I must become a resource person (atmosphere, training, support, tools).
- I must make expectations clear.
- I must eliminate unnecessary burdens.
- I must catch them doing something good, then reward them.
As we let go of more things, there will be a season where it may not be done as well as we could have done it. But I have found that to be a very short season. Usually I find that those I have equipped end up ‘doing’ the ministry better than I could have. We need to start looking at the things we do and begin asking ourselves, “Is there someone else in my church that could start ‘doing’ this role or that area?” As we begin to hand off different portions of ministry it will allow us to focus on being better at the few things that only we can do. You will enjoy developing others to be who God made them to be.
- Organizing your Volunteers (insideministry.wordpress.com)
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Having a structure to guide you as you develop new ministries and to restructure existing ministries helps keep all ministries functioning in a similar way. I have learned to accomplish this by having 4 major phases for our volunteer ministries. These phases start with the first phase being an introductory phase to the ministry leading up to the final volunteer phase being a ministry leader(s) phase. It’s broke down below for a better understanding.
This phase of the ladder is for ministry leaders and ministry coaches. In this phase, a person can become a leader of a portion of ministry where they make decisions concerning the direction of the ministry as they communicate with the Pastor/Director of the ministry. The requirements to be a part of the second lead phase is to be active in group attendance, consistent in worship attendance, experienced salvation, baptized, member of the church, consistently tithe, evangelistic and sign a ministry agreement for this phase and area of ministry.
This is the start of the leadership phase of the ladder. In this phase, a person can become a leader of an area or a team within a ministry. The requirements to be a part of the first lead phase is to be active in group attendance, consistent in worship attendance, experienced salvation, baptized, member of the church, regular in giving, been in ministry at the church for at least 6 months and sign a ministry covenant for this phase and area of ministry.
This is the initial commitment point for ministries. In this phase a regular attendee has found a place of service that they enjoy and are ready to commit to that ministry for a period of time determined by the ministry (this is normally a 6 month period of time). These positions consist of any non-leadership team roles that the ministry has. The requirements to be a part of the second serve phase is to be a regular attendee, active in group attendance and sign a ministry agreement for this phase and area of ministry.
This is the starting point for ministries. These areas of service are designed for connecting people to ministries. The only requirement to be a part of the first serve phase is to be a regular attendee. I often tell people that the 1st serve is their change to test drive a ministry, kick the tires and see if they would enjoy serving in this ministry. Often people in this phase will shadow someone in a 2nd serve role and observe how they fulfill their ministry. After a person has completed a 1st serve role, they are contacted by a ministry leader or coordinator (2nd Lead) and asked if they would like to continue on into this ministry or try another ministry. If they choose to continue on into the ministry, they move into a 2nd Serve role.
I am including a link to the ministry agreements by phase here: Ministry Agreements by Phase generic