Friday, August 11, 2006


Last night at "The Mission" (our weekly house church gathering) we were blessed with first-time visitors Brent and Clara from Fullerton. (Brent discovered our house church listing over at "").

During our meal we had a wonderful discussion about something that I've been meaning to write about for a while now and this is a good time to do so.

What we began discussing was the tendency in our traditional churches to centralize certain people as leaders and, in turn, we disqualify everyone else from participating.

For example, most pastors and on-staff ministers can relate to the fact that only a handful of people do all the work and ministry in the Body while 80% to 90% sit back and do nothing. This creates frustration, burn-out and, honestly, a large group of underdeveloped disciples.

Brent's comment was that he realized in his church that it was like a classroom of people from various levels of maturity who would never graduate. So, the First Graders and the Twelfth Graders (and everyone in between) must sit through the same lecture each week and there is no homework (so the pastor/professor cannot ever really tell who is listening or putting things into practice or not) and the fact is that no one ever graduates from this "Class" and becomes an instructor themselves.

Here's a great solution: Teach your people to become teachers. If you are in the habit of training others to become trainers of others (this is a very basic principle of discipleship), you will eventually end up with a church full of teachers and trainers who are training others to also be teachers and trainers. Over time your church will become so full of mature ("Graduated") leaders and disciple-makers that your small staff will act mostly as facilitators and not the one's who must always be "hands-on" for every single event/class/lesson/bible study, etc.

I have personally been shocked to see a lack of basic trust among most lead pastors to "give away the ministry" in this way. Many pastors are too afraid to actually empower and release others to do their job. Why? Well, it's pretty obvious that this threatens their authority and job security. But, it doesn't have to. I believe any pastor who actually put this into practice would quickly become the envy of other pastors in their community. They'd get phone calls from other pastors asking, "How do you do it?" and "Can you show me how to do this?"

Here's a quick reference of how to empower others contrasted with how to expoit others. See where your church fits in this matrix:

*Give them something to do / *Give them something to attend
*Believe in them / *Make them believe in you
*Delegate authority / *Require submission to your authority
*Further God's plan for their life / *Make them part of your plans
*Invest in them / * Use them
*Love them and show it / *Love the task more than the people
*Give them what you have / *Take what they have
*Provide resources for growth / *Harvest their resources for your own use
*Discuss with them / * Preach at them
*Spend time freely with them / *Require appointments
*Give them the keys now / *Hold back until you retire
*Serve them / *Get them to serve you
*Praise them / *Accept their praise graciously
*Transfer masterhood to them / *Demonstrate your masterhood to them

**Modified from Wolfgang Simson

Brent and I also discussed a bit about Barna's book "Revolution" and how, in the next 20 years, he predicts that the traditional church will decline and "organic" or "house" churches will flourish. I agree with Barna, however, I think as this begins to gather momentum many "smart" pastors will begin to look around and say, "Hold the phone! Why are all these people leaving the church? What is it they are hungry for? How can we modify what we do to provide the same opportunity?"

Most of those "smart" pastors will shift from an "Exploit Others" methodology to an "Empower Others" methodology. Many of the smart ones already have...

Brent and I both shared testimonials of how we've seen requests from church members to start Bible Studies or Prayer Meetings in their homes have been told "No" by their lead pastors because there wasn't a recognized pastoral figure who could oversee such a meeting. So, this means pastors are actually discouraging their members from meeting and praying and studing the Word of God together because they're not qualified to do so.


What happened to the Priesthood of the Believer? What happened to opening the Word of God and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth?

Sadly, our practice betrays our heritage of The Reformation and the liberty offered to us by God to empower every believer to become a committed and devoted disciple who, then in turn, goes and creates other committed and devoted disciples.

I've mentioned it here before, but the goal of an apple tree is not to produce more apples. It's to produce more apple trees. This is the organic purpose found in nature, and it's the organic purpose of the Body of Christ as well.

Let's go and make disciples. Let's empower every follower of Christ to go and exponentially create as many Bible Studies, Prayer Groups, Spiritual Discussion Groups, etc. as the Holy Spirit desires.

It's time to unleash the untapped potential of the Priesthood of Believers, empowered and released to "be the Church" and not just "attend the Church".

It's time to start the act of service and stop going to a service.

"Let it fly!"


1 comment:

jimmy spencer said...


great thoughts a former youth pastor at 2 churches [one big and one small] I agree that at BEST we usually see the building as a necessary tool to reach the community.

about 1 year ago I left my local church and started a non traditional "community". It's focus was to simply Love God and people. We are called shema. [duet. 6-4-5 & Mark 12]...anyways...we decided to really push this concept.

We are not looking for a church building
We do not have a service.
We are not competing to get people to join us.

It has been so cool to watch people take responsibilty for the spreading of the gospel--knowing there is are programs or service to rely on.

We do focus people on three parts of their life.


meaning we encourage people to finds ways to talk have spiritual conversations, collaborating with others to serve the local chicago community, seeing themselves and others as part of a larger Kingdom....and conspiring to advance that.

The leadership of Shema sets up things to help people practice their faith. Studies, dinners, opportunities to serve. We do have office space in a house, where we have interns live for free in exchange for 20 hours of volunteer effort to keep the movement....uh.. moving haha.

We hold to the Apostles creed. no more no less

we are on the fringes..and we are finding so are a lot of others---

its so cool what God is doing..I'm so glad God has given me this opportunity to serve The Church

jimmy spencer