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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

13 May '13

Expanding our influence and span of ministry

Posted by T.J. Addington

Most of us desire to expand our spiritual influence and our span of ministry. In order to do this there is one skill that we must learn and practice and that is to authentically give ministry away to other qualified people.

Take the local church. Many ministries that I observe do not do this well. Typically there is an invisible string that goes from the senior pastor to each ministry in the church. The result is that the church can only grow to the extent of the number of strings and relationships the senior pastor can juggle. He becomes the bottleneck because one way or another he has the final say.

Another outcome of this management style is that those who run the various ministries are not truly empowered within appropriate boundaries to lead themselves. They are always looking over their shoulder to see what the senior pastor wants or will say.

I have a core conviction that in order to expand our influence and span of ministry we must do three things. One: develop good people. Two: Empower good people. Three: Release good people. I call it Develop, Empower and Release. The more we do this, the more influence we will have in the kingdom.

On the other hand, the more I need to control or pull strings, or look over the shoulder of good people, the less true influence I will have since I am limiting them from fully taking responsibility and meeting their potential.

This is about giving ministry away, which is the job of those called into full time ministry according to Paul in Ephesians 4:12. Now we need to give ministry away to the right people. But once we find them, once we develop them, we must empower them and release them. They then take full responsibility for their ministry within agreed upon boundaries and not needing our permission are given the freedom to soar.

The more we do this the more spiritual influence we have. We gain spiritual influence by giving it away. We lose spiritual influence by not giving it away.

I am convinced that this is the key in missions today. Missionaries are there to raise up indigenous leaders as quickly as possible and then empower and release them to do what they can do better than we in their culture. As we multiply ourselves by giving ministry away we expand our influence and span of ministry. To the extent that we do not, we limit our influence and span of ministry.

My observation is that missions are notorious slow in giving ministry away, in truly empowering and releasing. We talk the talk but we do not walk the walk. Instead we create dependencies which may make us feel good (we are needed) But which does not expand our spiritual influence and release others to be all that they can be.

Here is the irony. When we hang on we lose influence but when we give it away we gain influence. Think about your ministry. How much are you genuinely giving away? How much are you hanging on to? Why would you hang on? How much are you trying to control and how much are you giving up control by empowering other good people?