Don’t Let Martha Start that Ministry

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


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?

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