• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Change case

Many of us have (or are facing) a situation such as the following:

A small group has been built as a result of one’s evangelistic and discipleship efforts.  Most of the people attending the small group have been discipled by you.  Your fellow co-wochangerkers have been encouraging you for a while to think about next steps in the church planting continuum.  Now you are feeling that it is time to ‘turn over’ this group to the local believers. 

However, each time you position someone to move into the leadership of the group, you are met with this response: “I just can’t do this.”  It’s either said overtly or it’s implied by the way in which each person avoids the conversation.”

Foundations are forever.”

Some of the possible ‘faulty foundations’ we may have planted in this situation might be, one, that the ministry centres on us as workers, and two, that to lead in any way one needs to have extensive training and education.  Now, we may not be stating these foundations outright, but our actions are certainly communicating these ideas.

So what can do to change these ‘faulty foundations’?

First, we can admit where we have gone wrong in laying the current foundations.  It’s never an easy step to say that we may have not taken the best steps in launching a group or a church.  Yet, such honesty can ‘level the field’ with local believers so that they (and we) will see that this small group, this work, is God’s doing and that we all have a part to play in its life.

Second, we can pray (and ask others to pray with us) for God to search our hearts and show us a way out of these faulty foundations; and how to build new foundations in the Gospel.  Each of us can be blinded to things that may inhibit local believers from getting involved in the work.  The Lord is gracious to show us our ‘hurtful ways’ and through the Gospel help us to build bridges back to our fellow believers, joining with them in the work.

Finally, we can start by asking others for help from the start.  People do need to be trained in the ministry. However, most of us hesitate from releasing local believers into the ministry because we always think they need even more preparation.  Some of their preparation though will probably come about through real live ministry experience.

Many of us have (or are facing) a situation such as the one above.  However, God works in seemingly impossible situations, both in our hearts and in the hearts of those to whom we are ministering.

2 Responses

  1. David, I would like to make a comment about your paragraph starting with “Finally”. When we were directly involved in church planting we sometimes had people leading worship who were believers but yet not living totally under Lordship (a woman who was living with the father of her 2 children but not married to him.) Any thoughts? Sometimes I wonder if that was a good idea.

    • Great question, Carolyn! And certainly not an easy one. One way to approaching a discussion on this situation might be to ask: how am I (are we) using this ministry experience to further disciple that person (or people)? If we are just putting a person into ministry without any further discipleship, then we risk losing the opportunity to ‘build further’ into this disciple. In this case, the ministry opportunity could be a way to address the Lordship issue; to help them grapple with this issue. It could be that no progress on this front would mean you would have to pull this person from that role after discussion (or they would pull themselves out of the role as they understood more and more God’s calling on his/her life). Does that help in any way?

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