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Healthy leaders equip believers to become ministers
- Every believer is a minister.
- Leadership in the church has little to do with prestige or position.
- The mindset of the pastor as the minister has limited the progress of churches.
- Change is hard, and this shift will be difficult for some.
- Strong leaders leave room for others to serve because they love their congregation.
- Ministering to others is directly connected to personal growth.
Can you imagine a general contractor having a team of workers at his disposal but always assuming he’d do a better job on everything that needed to be done?
His team’s skills would deteriorate, his own job would suffer, and he would burn out quickly. Nobody wins at that game. If that’s the approach, construction projects take longer, people who want to help finally leave, and the workmanship shows signs of the stress that went into it.
We can clearly see the error in thinking, and yet we often apply this false logic to our philosophy and practice of church leadership.
In the church, leaders are “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4:12). That’s how the team is supposed to work. The word “equip” in Greek means “to restore,” which is the word used for fishermen mending their nets. They “restore” the mesh for usefulness.
For a church to be healthy and for transformation to occur, leaders and followers alike must have a restoring, equipping mindset.
Here are 6 lessons for church leaders and members from Paul’s leadership directive to the Ephesians that we can apply today.
Learning God’s Word isn’t just for the experts. All members are meant to know and understand the revelation He has given us. All members are to develop and hone their life skills and discover and practice their spiritual gifts. All are invited into this life restoration project in order to impart it to others. We are all equipped “for works of service” (v. 12).
The specific purpose of these leadership gifts is to equip the saints. In other words, all believers. It’s not the pastor’s job to do the ministry, but to equip the ministers!
Unfortunately, most people who have been brought up in the church have it backward, and the language of our leaders often contributes to the confusion. They talk about being “called to ministry,” which can overlook the calling of every believer to do the work of the ministry.
Get practical steps for change in How to Turn 5 Powerful Truths Into a Supernaturally Transformed Life.
A huge percentage of churches in America—probably somewhere between 80 and 90 percent—have plateaued or are experiencing a decline in attendance. Seventy-five to one hundred people can be served spiritually by an average, fairly energetic pastor. A high-energy pastor would be able to connect with a few more people without having a nervous breakdown. A highly motivated, obsessive-compulsive pastor, on the other hand, can work up to ninety hours a week and oversee two hundred people.
I can say that because I’ve been there, and it’s not the way to go. I felt like I had to be everything to everyone. It’s probably not surprising to learn that burnout and discouragement were lurking just around the corner.
People new to a biblically functioning, equipping church often become frustrated because the wrong model of ministry is so deeply ingrained in them. They discover the pastor is not always available to everyone for whatever reason and backlash can follow.
I’ve received my fair share of pushback as I’ve led following the philosophy outlined in Ephesians, but I’ve been greatly encouraged by others who have embraced their roles as ministers and are experiencing joy and blessings as they minister to others.
Leaders are saying, “It’s not that we don’t love you. It’s that we love you so much that we’re not going to take ministry away from you. We love you so much that even though you think a pastor can do it better, we’ll let a layperson who is more gifted and more available serve you as a shepherd.”
Leaders are saying to their congregation: We love you so much that even though you think a pastor can do it better, we’ll let a layperson who is more gifted and more available serve you as a shepherd.
Members of a congregation may wonder what they were thinking under the old church model once the change has been implemented and accepted. It’s a better, more efficient, and more satisfying way to minister and build up the church.
Growth requires both receiving and providing ministry, and the conventional but unbiblical model of church leadership hampers this process. It puts everything in the hands of the contractor and ignores the expertise of all the individuals who could contribute. The transformation won’t look quite right with that approach, and it may not even get completed.
I’ve served in churches with a limited number of pastors who have specific responsibilities and thousands of other “full-time” ministers who are evolving, transforming, and helping others grow and transform.
Some of these ministers are disguised as everyday insurance agents, bus drivers, carpoolers, community activists, tech industry executives, hospitality industry servers, mothers and fathers.
They pray with kids on a soccer team, visit the sick, counsel the hurting, lead Bible studies, walk through neighborhoods praying and blessing the homes and inhabitants, worship throughout their day, and display God’s love in a variety of creative ways.
These saints are fulfilling God’s plan for the church—and being transformed in the process.
These faithful individuals are actually ministers of the gospel who shepherd, teach, impart wisdom, express God’s heart, and live out their gifts whenever and wherever needed.
Hear more practical lessons from Ephesians that apply to our daily lives when you watch my Daily Discipleship Course on YouTube. Find other helpful resources on our website, including my book, Yes! You Really Can Change.
- How To Turn 5 Powerful Truths Into A Supernaturally Transformed Life
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- What’s Your Unique Purpose In God’s Big Story?
- 5 Reliable Methods For Putting On Your New Self — Even Before It Fits
- How to Break Out of Destructive Lifestyle and Start Living On The Edge
- 5 Power Faith-Building Exercises That Work Every Time
Spend 10 minutes a day in Daily Discipleship with Chip.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip