–a reprint of a exerpt fom Pastor Ron Tobin’s book introduction of Everyone A Ministry—
Ephesians 4:7-8 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
I remember so clearly that December morning in 1991. I had challenged our deacons the previous week, prayerfully to come up with a theme for the New Year. We had bandied around several themes to be our direction for the New Year. Most of the ideas suggested dealt with outreach or growth, but making solid saints who could do outreach with ministry in mind. We needed to move from becoming disciples, to disciple making and ministering.
The Lord gave me a burden many years ago for His church. We believers have bounced between two models of churches. One model is the hierarchy style, in which a few well-trained leaders and pastors run and do everything. There are, of course, Sunday school teachers, youth sponsors, and mega committees as well, but the burnout rate is leadership is tremendously high, and the congregation lethargy is equally up to the task.
The other model is the entertainment style. The energetic worship technique attempts to keep the congregation stimulated by appeal-ing to their emotionally felt needs rather than emphasizing their spiritual needs. The second style uses more people, more discipleship and more outreach. The church still runs through personnel and is dependent upon only a margin-al number of people. Evangelist John Goetsch best summed up our difficulty and need by stating the following:
Christianity can be best summed up in “basin Theology.” We can know what is right and yet, like Pilate, call for a basin and wash our hands of the responsibility to do anything with the truth we know. Or can we can call for a basin as Jesus did, fill it with water, and wash the disci-ples’ feet […]. Mentoring[…] must involve preaching and practice, instruction, and in-volvement[…].
The goal I sought was a minimum of 80% of regular attendees serving the Lord in some capacity. From those disciples would come individuals who would catch the true vi-sion of ministry. That would be my idea for a different style.
My devotions had recently been in Ephesians, chapter four, verses one through twelve. Verse twelve seemed to leap out at me, stating: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” That’s it! That’s our theme for 1992, and my kick-off message for the New Year. Long ago, I was convinced that God’s work could not be accomplished by leaving it to a few highly educated or skilled people. The Apostles understood that idea. All of my missionary training revealed that truth as well.
The missionary whom I apprenticed under was fond of saying, “We start a ministry in the church, so we can work ourselves out of a job, and then start the process again.” Years later, shortly before that brother went home to be with the Lord, he told me he wished he had learned earlier to turn things over to the people like he was currently doing. God used that dear brother to start four vibrant churches in South Florida in nearly the same time it took him to get one church off the ground in the previous ten years. The difference was ownership and discipleship.