Last week I mentioned the holy cause and effect found in Ephesians 4:11-13—the reality that if church leaders will train people for ministry, then the church will be healthier.
And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. (Eph. 4:11-13)
Typically, churches hire a pastor to do ministry. Biblically, pastors train people to do ministry. The Lord personally gives His church pastors-teachers to prepare His people for ministry so that the body of Christ is unified and healthy.
In the typical view, if there are more kids in the kids ministry, more people in the hospital, or more couples that need counseling, the automatic, default response is to “hire someone to do ministry.” Some church leaders enjoy the typical view. It can cause us to feel more necessary, even indispensable. The typical view can cause us to preach the “priesthood of believers” for personal connection to the Lord but forsake that sacred doctrine for ministry and service.
The typical view hampers the movement of a church in a local community because ministry is confined to a few “professionals.” God’s people are relegated to the bleachers to live vicariously through those who are “really called.” And those who serve as the professional ministers are crushed with a burden they were not called to carry. The clergification of ministry deeply hampers the growth and mission of a church, stifles the maturation of Christians, and overwhelms pastors. Everyone loses when churches operate from the typical view.
Churches and leaders that operate from the biblical view constantly seek to hand ministry over to God’s people because they realize that all of God’s people are gifted and called. They understand, as Luther stated, “Let everyone who knows himself to be Christian be assured of this and apply it to himself—we are all priests and there is no difference between us.” And they know God placed them in their roles to equip others to live as servants and missionaries.
In recent years, God has used a financial meltdown to help some churches stop the foolish practice of hiring the ministry away. Perhaps He is using a financial crisis to bring us back to Ephesians 4:11-13 type of ministry. In Geneva, before the Reformation, an estimated 200 clergy ministered to 5000 people. After the Reformation, when ministry was handed back to the people, 7 clergy prepared God’s people to serve those living in Geneva. The church won when ministry was given back to the people.
If you are a pastor, your role is not to do all the ministry. Your role, your job, is to prepare others for ministry.