Thursday, March 15, 2007

Let My People Go

The prevailing statistic, that is virtually unchallenged in the church world, is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

Pastors coddle, poke and bribe and yet it seems that the most gifted can barely dent that percentage. When they do it is usually short lived or is based on the beginnings of a new church.

The 20/80 statistic is even scarier when it is broken down into function. Ushers, greeters, nursery workers, coffee makers, Sunday school teachers (don’t the kids have parents to do this job) etc., etc. Very few of the positions or workers are actually in the ministry component of the church. They are being kept too busy to be equipped or activated for the “work of the ministry.”

Is it possible that the traditional model actually produces this result? After all, how many new positions of leadership open up once a church is established? You can only have so many lifelong elders or so many deacons. As the leadership group quickly gets to a relatively small, cohesive size, new applicants are no longer needed or desired.

The answer that addresses this bottleneck is small groups. The motto is, “if you want to grow big, you must grow small.”

Usually a hierarchical model of some form is used to govern these groups. Some don’t like the militaristic language and state that the lines of authority are purely relational. However, letting them completely go is really not what the structure allows. Nevertheless, there are some very bright signs as churches explore these new possibilities.

In Latin America, cell churches, as big as 250,000+ , are experiencing a very interesting/disturbing development. Small groups are experiencing Jesus in intimate, life changing ways, in their homes. When they go to church, the living Christ isn’t being experienced this dynamically. Some are actually questioning the ongoing need for the weekly, large gathering. It seems they no longer need (blasphemy) its ministry to find the joy of serving Jesus.

It’s kind of like going to university. Once you have your “nursing” degree, do you continue in the university model? I’m not saying that lifelong education is not to be desired; it’s just that there are other, more flexible options.

What is the purpose of the Sunday sermon model? I have upset some people in saying this, but I will say it again. Do we go to Sunday worship or do we WORSHIP Sunday?

Somehow the Sunday sermon church model is not willing to relinquish its dominance. But as the people themselves are maturing, they are recognizing that they really can do the work of the ministry without it. Children are supposed to become adults.

Why not prepare them for departure? Instead, they are usually labelled as rebellious, power seekers to be shunned for their sin of leaving Sunday services.

Why do churches demand a lifelong commitment to Sunday services? Pastor, why would you want the same person to stare in rapt attention at you for a lifetime?

It seems that there is some form of symbiotic relationship between pastor and parishioner. It’s almost like they need each other to exist. The term, "Momma's boy" comes to mind.

Jesus understood the potential harm of this type of relationship.

John 16:6 (NKJV) "But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

Even Jesus had to get out of His disciples way.

Why not, “Let MY people go.”


Jamie A. Grant said...

I'll review this in more depth later. For now, suggesting that the "work of ministry" does not include the roles you, I don't agree. You seem to have applied some intangible rating system to these things. And it may be the same rating system that makes people think that washing toilets is beneath them.

David Grant said...

I apologize profusely for giving the impression that cleaning toilets is somehow beneath anyone that is doing "the work of the ministry."

My definition of the "work of the ministry". Developing great friendships.