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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.

11 Sep '12

The one thing that can change everything in ministry impact

We are always looking for ways to change the equation in local church ministry. While there are many things we can do to increase our impact there are a handful of things that the New Testament tells us are essential to do. 

One of them can change everything: helping God's people reclaim their God given call and potential in ministry: To develop, empower and release people to use their skills and gifts to advance His kingdom in their circles of influence.

The heart of our call as church leaders is to see all of God's people join Him in meaningful ministry. "So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12)." It is my conviction and I believe the New Testament teaching and example that our congregations will have impact for the Gospel to the extent that God's people are using their gifts and skills on His behalf.

Here are several ways to help make this a reality in the local church.

First, we need to create an expectation in line with Ephesians 2:10 that we were created by God for specific works and He wants us to join Him in His work to "destroy the devils work" (1 John 3:8) on our planet and bring the hope and restoration of the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17) that changes lives in God's power. None of God's people are exempt from that expectation and call.

Second, we need to reclaim the priesthood of all believers as the theology behind the expectation. One of the dysfunctions of the church is professional ministry where we hire staff to do the work of ministry and ask for people to assist. How would life look different if we understood that we are all called, all given specific gifts by the Holy Spirit and all of us God's staff! Practice follows a proper understanding of theology and this is a theology that needs to be understood by God's people.

Third, it is powerful to tell stories of how God is using regular people in significant but ordinary ways to share the Good News, be agents of compassion and help, infuse their workplaces and neighborhoods with His love and live out the good works Jesus created us for. Stories make the theology practical and doable. They encourage others that God can use them in significant ways by simply living out God's call on their lives.

Fourth, we need to make it practical in our teaching and preaching. God changes the world by ordinary people doing ordinary things in the power of God's Spirit in their circles of influence. We need to communicate this theology that God can and does use ordinary people to accomplish His work: "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Corinthians 1:26-27)."

Fifth we must redefine ministry. Ministry is not simply what happens in the church but it is living out God's call in each of our unique places and circles of influence. For some, most of their ministry will be outside of the church. Keeping it inside the church is the reason we have so little impact in our communities.

Finally we need to tell God's meta story of a world undone which God intents to make whole again through His death and resurrection and his return with a new heavens and new earth. In the meantime we are His agents of heaven to bring the hope and truth and love of Jesus to all places where we intersect. It is the fulfillment of the Lord's prayer, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10)." We are His agents to bring bits of heaven to earth as we live out our followership faithfully.

Our passion ought to be to see all of God's people find fulfillment in their lives and work as they become His ambassadors in ordinary places, in ordinary ways with results that are extraordinary because the Holy Spirit has infused our efforts with His power.