Don’t Let Martha Start that Ministry

5 Traits I Look for in Every Ministry Leader

“Pastor, Martha and I have been talking, and we’ve decided to start a food pantry.”

foodpantry

This is how most ministries in small town churches get started. How do I know? Because this is how most of the ministries in the church I serve got started.

Whether you’re planting a church, or you pastor an already established church there’s a huge temptation to fall into this trap of letting anyone start a ministry. I understand your pain. It’s hard to find help, so when you see someone who shows a little initiative your natural reaction is to let them run with it, but before you do, you need to ask yourself two questions.

  1. Does this ministry fit the vision and purpose of our church?
  1. Is this the right person to lead the ministry?

First and foremost, you want to make sure the ministry matches up with your vision, and will help you accomplish your purpose.

If you don’t have a vision for your church, you need to get one. Otherwise, you’ll make the mistake of adding all these programs with no plan on how they fit together to reach your community.

Second, you need to identify the right person to lead the ministry. It doesn’t matter how great your ministries align with your vision if you don’t have the right people to lead those ministries.

So, here are five traits that I look for when identifying a leader:

  • Passion – Does the person have a passion for Jesus, seeing lost people found, and the ministry? I want them to have all three. If they have a passion for student ministry, but not a passion for Jesus, that’s going to lead to problems down the road.
  • Hard Worker – I want a person who says, “Whatever it takes, I’ll get it done.” I don’t believe God calls lazy people to lead ministries. Has this person shown that he/she is a hard worker in the past? Do they arrive early to help set up? Stay late to help clean up, or are they the first ones to leave?
  • Gather & Retain People – Can they gather a crowd? Do people gravitate towards them or away from them? One of the ways you can test this is by asking them to lead a small group. If they can’t get anyone to show up to their small group, they aren’t going to be able to gather people. You also need to make sure that once these people are gathered, they’re not running them off. Certain personalities can rub people the wrong way, so a crowd can quickly turn into a few.
  • Strategic Thinker – Is this person capable of making wise decisions on their own, or are they constantly coming to you for answers? Your time is valuable, and if you can’t trust the person to make good decisions, you might as well be leading the ministry yourself. Has this person ever came to you with an idea on how you could do something better?
  • Handle Criticism – I’ve found that the majority of people don’t handle criticism well. This is unfortunate, because if you’re ever going to lead anything, you’re going to deal with criticism. How a person deals with criticism tells you a lot about them. When you tell a person how they could do something better, do they get defensive, or do they get to work?

What about Mary, Martha, and the food pantry? What about those people who come to you, wanting to start a ministry?

If you have a clear vision, you will quickly know whether this ministry idea fits within it or not. If not, simply tell them that’s a good idea, but it really doesn’t fit into what God has called us to do.

If it does fit into the vision, but you don’t believe they’re the right fit, tell them that’s a great idea, I don’t think you’re the right leader for it right now, but I’d love to have you on the team.

Will that keep people from getting mad at you? Probably not, but God hasn’t called you to be a people pleaser, God has called you to reach those who are far from God.

What’s the strangest ministry anyone has ever asked you to start?

Small Town Preaching

Basics - A Relevant Message

Every Monday I post one of The Basics. The Basics are simple steps every church can take to grow. They are the same steps that led my church from 87 people in attendance to over 700. These steps have helped my church see hundreds of people saved and baptized in just a few short years. Most of these steps you can take this week without even having a board meeting. These are The Basics.

Preaching

Over the past few months, I’ve been sharing a few of the basic steps any church can take to see their church begin to grow. While I believe the steps I’ve shared have tremendous potential to impact your church, none of it matters if each Sunday you (pastor) get up and preach a message no one can understand.

If you’re still preaching from the King James Version of the Bible or any other version that takes a Bible scholar to interpret, you should stop it.

What does it matter how literal or accurate your translation is if no one can understand what you’re talking about?

Let me tell you a secret, the people in your community aren’t struggling with the differentiation between the Hebrew and Greek. They’re struggling with loving their spouse, their children, and their neighbors as themselves.

They’re not debating between the 1611 and 1769 versions of the King James Bible. They’re debating between going to church with their family or going hunting with their buddies.

Every time you get up on stage and preach a message only you and a few of your pastor friends can understand you’re wasting your breath.

I apologize if this is coming off as harsh, but I get aggravated. For years the church has had the greatest message in the world, and it communicates it in a way that no one wants to hear.

Lives are at stake, and we’re too caught up in our traditions to notice.

So, let me offer a solution.

  1. Preach from a version of the Bible a middle school student could understand. There are a lot of good ones out there: New Living Translation, New International Version, and the English Standard Version just to name a few.
  1. Preach in a way that your audience can take one thing from the message each week and apply it to their lives. If you can’t pick out one thing from your message they can use, scrap the message and start over.
  1. Preach on the topics every day people are dealing with such as marriage, family, money management, depression, anxiety, hope, discipline, etc.
  1. Preach the Gospel. We were all dead in our sins, and God sent a Savior. He lived a perfect life, was crucified for our sins, and rose again three days later so we might have life and life more abundant.

We have been given the greatest message in the world in a time when the world needs the message the greatest. Let’s make the most of it.

Which King James Version is your favorite? Does the Textus Receptus sound like an iPhone app to you?

Justin Bieber and Finding Your Purpose

And you’ve given me the best gift
That I’ve ever known
You give me purpose everyday
You give me purpose in every way
– Justin Beiber

Purpose

At the risk of losing my man card, as well as my credibility, I have to confess I’m a bit of a fan of the new Justin Beiber album. I think he’s grown up a little bit, he’s admitted to his mistakes, and he’s seemed to have found his “Purpose”.

Google defines purpose as the reason for which something was created. I’m not positive that Justin fully knows his purpose, but I’m not sure many of us do either.

Proverbs 16:9 says “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

I think we may could even change it to say, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our purpose.”

My question to you is, have you discovered what your purpose is? Chances are you haven’t given it much thought. Neither had I.

But as I approach my 35th birthday next week, I’ve really started thinking more about it. There’s a good chance I’ve already lived over half my life. I know that’s not fun to think about, but I think it’s important to put things into perspective.

Looking back over my life, I have to ask myself what have I accomplished. Have I fulfilled my purpose? If not, what am I waiting for?

What lives have I impacted? Are people better because they’ve been around me? Does my life draw others to Jesus?

Have I used what God’s given me to build His kingdom, or am I too busy building mine?

These are the questions that fuel me, I hope they’ll do the same for you.

Have you found your purpose? If not, what’s keeping you from it?