By: Dan Reiland
Whenever I hear someone say, “I’m helping my pastor get his ministry accomplished”, I cringe just a little. I know that comes from a good heart, but there is a better and biblical principle still to be discovered.
Ephesians 4:11-13 seems clear enough, but a striking number of churches don’t fully understand, embrace, and practice this biblical plan. When this biblical plan is not followed, the result is often frustration, lack of growth, and the congregation does not realize the joy and fulfillment of service in the body of Christ.
There are three interpretations commonly practiced within the local church when it comes to an understanding of the role of the pastor and the congregation.
1) The church hires the pastor to do the ministry.
This is common in long-standing small churches, almost always under 100 people. The board has a long tenure and owns the real leadership authority in the church. This is the group that “runs” the church and hires the pastor to “preach and visit.” Other than a few of the most dedicated people who do a few things like help in the nursery, serve as an usher or play the piano, the pastor does the work. It may well be a kind and loving church, but often inward-focused, it is still a very difficult scenario in which to lead change and make progress.
2) The people help the pastor do his or her ministry.
The people helping the pastor do the ministry is the next level and better than the “Hired Gun” illustrated in the first point. In this scenario, there are a number, sometimes many, people, who eagerly jump in to serve in all the ministries of the church. The pastor is the encouraging shepherd who expresses gratitude for helping him carry the load. And in many cases, there is good training for the ministries. But the pastor is still the spiritual hero of the church. He is the one seen as the leader who makes it all happen. It’s often a positive environment, willing to embrace change and has the potential to grow, but usually slowly. It is a friendly environment but has not yet embraced the biblical model in Ephesians 4.
3) The pastor helps the people do their ministry.
This approach represents the biblical principle found in Ephesians 4:11-13. It’s a radically different approach than the first two models. The pastor is the leader who equips the people to do the work of ministry that God called them to do! The pastor is the coach, and the people are the spiritual heroes who build the church! In this scenario equipping (training) is provided for all ministry positions. The pastor expresses gratitude to the people not for helping him or her (although I’m sure they are appreciative) but for serving Jesus and advancing the Kingdom vision of the church. In this model, the people are empowered to serve and lead according to their gifts and calling, and the potential for change and growth is significantly higher. This is when church becomes fun, fulfilling, and experiences the greatest Kingdom impact.
“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 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13
Verses 12-13 reveal the purpose: Build the body of Christ until we become mature in our faith and experience unity in the fullness of Christ!
© 2019 Dan Reiland | The Pastor’s Coach – Developing Church Leaders