If you lead a ministry (kids, students, groups, connections, worship, etc.) in a local church, you are given responsibility for a significant ministry in the church, and yet you are also part of a larger body of believers. You steward a part of the whole, and in this, you must care deeply for that which you are responsible. At the same time, as part of a larger body of believers, you must treat what you steward as part of the whole church.
In this regard, I have seen two polar opposite errors from those who lead a ministry in a local church.
1. Being overly focused on your area
Some staff make decisions for their ministry area without much or any regard for the whole. They identify with what they are leading, but not with the church as a whole. They want to mooch from the resources, the people, and the support of the church without contributing to the whole. The staff members care only about their team, and not the overall team to which they belong. They may be perceived as highly effective but are equally as divisive.
2. Being overly focused on the whole
There are some staff that want to speak into every church-wide decision, that are constantly evaluating the whole, and that are obsessed with every interaction and every word senior leaders mutter. Instead of executing their areas of responsibility well, these staff members act as internal consultants for everyone else.
If you are in the first group, you must understand that the ministry you lead is part of a larger ministry. If you only want to be attached to a church to get resources and people, you are not serving the church well. If you are in the second group, you are attempting to assume responsibility for things that are not yours while simultaneously shirking responsibility that is yours. If you want to speak into the whole, first steward your own role exceedingly well. Then you will be invited to do so. There is a better way, the way most staff choose to take…
When the apostle Paul challenged believers in Galatia to “carry one another’s burdens” (6:2), he also challenged each person to “carry his own load” (6:5). Some translations use “burden” in both verses, but Paul used two different Greek words. In other words, some things each of us must own for ourselves, and some burdens should be jointly shouldered by the whole community of believers surrounding us. Paul was writing to Galatian churches to clarify and defend the gospel against legalism, not writing to a leadership team, but here are some general applications from the passage.
Steward your area well…
If you don’t carry your ministry load, you are not serving the whole church well. If you have been given responsibility for a ministry in the church, no one should outpace you in passion or concern for the area you steward. If you are overly concerned with everyone else’s position, you may end up focusing attention on the leadership specks in other people’s eyes while neglecting the plank in yours. You serve the whole church well by stewarding your role well.
…While caring deeply for the whole
A community of faith is to “carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Christ bore in His body the burden and the curse of our sin, so we are to bear one another’s burdens. Every church has a mission that is so big, so burdensome, that everyone is required. Without the whole team pulling together in the same direction around what is declared as most important, a church staff will fall woefully short of its collective potential.
Church staff: Steward your area well while also caring deeply for the whole church.