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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.

09 May '13

The dysfunction of professional ministry

Posted by T.J. Addington
This dysfunction apples particularly to churches and mission organizations. It is the thinking that only those who are formally trained are really able to minister effectively. If you doubt that this is true in your denomination, just ask yourself how many pastors there are who have not gone through formal theological training and whether you can be ordained without it. 

In the local church, this dysfunction shows itself in the areas where lay people are not given significant ministry responsibility and whether or not there is a concerted effort on the part of full-time personnel to develop, empower and release others into ministry. After all, the mandate of church leaders, according to Ephesians 4:12 is to equip, empower and release everyone into active ministry. Yet in many places of the world we have not done this, trusting 'real ministry' only to the hands of those who are formally trained.

We have trained our people to think that way as well. After all we hire professionals to do ministry for us. It leads to a passive laity - at least when it comes to significant ministry responsibility.

Here is something to chew on. There is no intrinsic link between one's level of education and one's ministry effectiveness! Educators may want you to believe there is but there is not. I am amazed at people, for instance, who get a PhD in Organizational Leadership but who cannot lead anything. Training and experience matter but how one gets that training and experience (formal or informal) does not.

I know hundreds of pastors internationally who lead highly effective ministries who have never had formal theological education, and often, heave not even been educated beyond the secondary level (what does matter is that pastors have a level of education consistent with those in their congregation).

It's not that I am anti-education (I hold a Masters Degree in Divinity from a great seminary). What troubles me is the culture we have bred in our ministries that leaves highly qualified people out of the game because they lack a degree. In fact, when churches are looking for staff members today, the first place I suggest they look is inside the congregation for someone who has the appropriate skill set and who is spiritually mature. You know them, they know you and you know whether or not it will be a good match based on long experience - rather than hoping that someone you call from the outside will be a good match.

By the way, for the first two hundred years of the church, most of those who had church leadership responsibility would probably not be ordained in our movements today. Something to chew on.