I never wanted to be a pastor, but God has a way of working beyond my wants. Upon joining a church staff, I quickly realized that people hold church leaders on a pedestal. This may not be fair, but it’s the reality. In addition to that, church staff often function as wannabe superheroes solving the world’s problems.
This leads to church staffers leading from a place of self-reliance and doing ministry on their own. After all, church leaders step into dark places to bring the light of Jesus. Church staff get paid to tend to the needs of a church. And church staff have the flexibility to respond quickly to people’s needs.
When it comes to building a team, we often don’t want to burden someone else with the weighty duties associated with building a ministry. We think we can do it all ourselves.
4 Ways to Build Ministry Beyond You
I haven’t perfected building a team, nor have I seen ministry thrive beyond myself. But I’ve recently encountered a change that made all of this real for me.
Last year, I transitioned from my previous church to a new church and a new ministry. And I didn’t want to leave my existing ministry high and dry. I wanted to ensure I transitioned well. I wanted to do my best to equip them to continue succeeding even after I left.
And having a team in place is the only way that can happen with any degree of success.
Now that I’m back at square one with my new church, I’ve had a chance to evaluate what enabled success in my previous role. And I’m learning how to apply that success to building a new ministry.
Whether you’re brand new to your role or rethinking how to approach an existing task, these 4 R’s can be a big help in establishing a ministry beyond yourself.
1. Remove the Plank
It’s easy to be critical of something that discredits or disqualifies someone from participating in leadership of a team I’m on. And there’s certainly a time and place for that discernment. However, I too often discredit someone who’s exactly where I’ve been, or has a different weakness than mine.
When I remove the plank from my eye, I’m able to see clearly that differing strengths and weaknesses help strengthen a team. So before fully discrediting someone’s lack of experience or passion, ensure you’re doing so with a clear vision. If you’re being over critical, your team will never feel empowered and encouraged.
2. Recognize Success
After a couple years of being on staff as a youth pastor, I felt a strong conviction about starting a marriage ministry. The only hiccup I encountered through the process of launching Married People was the fact that I’d been married less than 30 months—the fact that I was still counting in months shows how new my marriage still was.
The blessing of still being a newlywed was the need to rely heavily on people who have experienced several phases of marriage. This meant I needed to learn what success in marriage looked like. Experience in marriage is helpful, but it’s not the only measure of a good marriage.
I knew I wasn’t a marriage expert. That allowed me to look for other marriage experts in areas where I was longing for growth. Recognizing success allowed me to be more attentive to the traits others had which would enhance my marriage and our team.
3. Rally the Troops
I knew that launching Married People would have a greater impact and credibility if I wasn’t the only one leading the charge. I needed to learn that my team couldn’t simply look and act like me either.
So I established a team of people who had been married for different lengths of time—from over 30 years to less than 10 years. Once met together, I quickly realized that I was no longer the superhero. I was no longer the savior to the problem.
Creating a team enabled our ministry to start with more fervor and organization than I could do on my own. You’d think this is common sense, but I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone by asking them to serve. I didn’t want other people to feel like they had to do “my job.”
However, you’d be surprised how many people are eager to serve if you’d only ask.
4. Remind the Purpose
Marriage ministry can quickly turn into casual event planning or responsive marriage counseling. Success in marriage ministry is much more than cool events or being a wise counsel.
The CORE 4 of Married People give us a premise for our ministry and a tremendous reminder of “the why” behind each event, each small group, each date night, and each planning meeting.
Your individual purpose and our collective purpose in any ministry is to bring glory to God. With any marriage effort, that best happens when we:
- Have serious fun
- Respect and love
- Love God first
- Practice your promise
Be sure to keep ministry vision as your focus. Remind your volunteers why you do what you do. This will help to ensure everyone in the ministry is aligned and motivated.
It’s Not All Up To You
Marriage isn’t about you. Ministry isn’t about you.
All of our efforts are made in vain if we don’t allow God to use whomever he calls however he wishes to work in big ways. So don’t do it alone! Build a marriage ministry that extends beyond yourself so that it can have a greater impact and survive when you eventually leave it.
Josh Fortney is the Teaching and Next Steps Pastor at Springcreek Church in Garland, Texas.
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