Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Tradeoffs

There are tradeoffs involved with empowering everyday people to take the ministry of Jesus to everyday places versus leading and doing ministry in the manner of a traditional church. There are things that need to be surrendered in order to gain the benefits of seeing ministry happen beyond church walls and through "non-professionals". Inasmuch as we just finished celebrating our first Easter as a Network dedicated to this mission, I thought I'd list a few things that must be surrendered if we are to trade the old wineskins for new.

1. Control of the ministry environment -

Doing ministry in everyday places means we must surrender the control of the "turf" we have gotten used to controlling in our typical church building-based ministry environments. Doing church at Starbucks or outdoors in a cul-de-sac (as two of our house churches recently did) defies efforts at over-programming and insulating the worship experience. And yet, this will be necessary if we want the life and ministry of the church to authentically impact everyday places. Instead of controlling and fine-tuning the ministry environment for effect as traditional churches so often attempt to do, spiritual impact must come from the raw basics of the church in action and in worship.

2. Professionalism in ministry -

Empowering everyday people to do ministry in everyday places means that "professionals" must become committed to the role of supporting, training and empowering "non-pro's" to take risks with the church's time, talent and treasure. This redefines the shepherd from the "one-call-does-it-all" professional, to more of a mentor/coach who focuses on maximizing the gifts of others.

It takes guts to buck today's image-conscious church culture in favor of raising up everyday people to preach, teach, lead, design and implement the ministry of the Kingdom, but nothing is more fulfilling than witnessing this when it happens!

3. Non-organic infrastructure

By organic, I mean the kind of infrastructure that springs forth naturally from the life of God's people while on their mission. Along the way, they encounter opportunities and challenges and must discover and implement solutions and sturctures that are truly relevant to their work and to their fellowship. At times, this will stand in sharp contrast to the programs, products and priorities of churches that seek to develop familiar infrastructure first and then figure out how to do "outreach" or other forms of ministry from that platform. To me, this has caused many churches to shed influence and struggle under unneeded burdens simply because the cart is in front of the horse.

There are other tradeoffs. Care to weigh in with a few of your own?

No comments: