The effective church in the twenty-first century will be the church that mobilizes, equips, empowers and supports laypeople in ministry. Yet, some church members are frightened that they are to be ministers. Knowing Jesus and being the recipients of His blessings is one thing, but the idea of being a minister is something else altogether.
How can this type ministry be implemented in a local church? It could very well begin among the deacons.
As a rule, leaders make or break any plan, idea, ministry, or program. If leaders are open to and seriously pursue personal renewal the congregation will likely follow. The best ideas and plans usually come out of small groups. The deacons are the ideal group to advocate, support, and promote the “every member a minister” concept of doing church. The best place to start is with the church’s leadership.
An effective leader in the church must be spiritually motivated and ministry minded.
The true “servant-leader” deacon remembers that he serves church members’ best interests when he serves Christ first. Such a leader seldom waits for the congregation to take the initiative. He realizes that however well-intended, large groups favor the status quo, the safe harbor, the familiar ground and the path of least resistance.
This is why leadership is so crucial. Leaders initiate, large groups respond. Leaders make plans, large groups follow plans. Leaders inspire, large groups get inspired. Leaders cast visions, large groups thrive on and work together toward the vision.
Deacons are first and foremost spiritual leaders. Real spiritual leadership rests in modeling the church’s values, as seen in its leaders. Effective leadership — if the deacons practice it, then they can model it.
Effective leadership is the beginning point of modeling the “every member a minister” concept in the local church.
We need more than words; we need models.
Some deacon bodies might pray about using this ministry concept within their own group.
Of course, it will take more than emotion or excitement. There is no way to sustain a ministry or movement by emotion. Since the power of ideas is clearly superior to the power of emotion, emotional energy must be sustained by spiritual energy.
One starting point is to create an awareness of this concept of doing church. Awareness is simply helping people become conscious that something exits. In seeking to deepen understanding, we are undertaking to give them a clear comprehension of the doctrine of the laity —its biblical base, its importance, how it is expressed, how God has enabled us for this ministry.
As the writer of this paper and leader of the conference, I thought about trying to offer an organizational structure as a starter piece to guide interested deacon groups, but I feared it might look like another program. I am convinced that if laypeople, in partnership with the pastor, would seriously embrace this concept as a Biblical mandate, the Holy Spirit would direct them in developing a structure and strategy to implement the ministry.
Here are few ideas that might be helpful in beginning to facilitate an “every member a minister” ministry.
Start by becoming convinced that the doctrine of the laity is an integral part of God’s eternal purpose.
- Discover your own sense of calling and giftedness.
- Embrace it personally.
- Practice it in your own life.
- Continue to enhance your own understanding.
- Acknowledge its significance.
- Give it visible and vocal support.
- Help others to identify their gifts and a focused ministry.
- Support the pastor in emphasizing and implementing it.
- Give consideration as a group of deacons to pursue this together.
Remember that it takes all the people of God to do all the work of God.
Without an every member ministry, we have unlived biblical truths, untapped resources in the congregation and an un-reached world.
What a goal for any congregation – “Every member involved in some kind of personal ministry!”