I spent a couple of days this weekend at the Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth, Texas, at Harvest Call—an annual equipping and training event for Let’s Start Talking ministries. Mark Woodward has done a great blog series on the history of LST. It’s a must read if you want the inside look at how God has used the ministry all over the world to bring people to faith and help people learn to share their faith in a way that is simple and effective. The biggest of many reasons I’m a fan of LST is because it has done as much as any ministry I know of to help regular people share their faith with regular people in a biblical, relational way.
I taught a couple of sessions on working with church leadership (preachers, elders, mission teams) to begin and build an LST, FriendSpeak, or Sycamore ministry. I’ll be guest-posting some of that material at Mark’s blog, but here are a few bullet points from a small section of the presentation entitled, 6 Things Your Minister Won’t Tell You They’re Thinking When You Propose a New Ministry (Some are reasonable, some aren’t)
- “Even though you feel we aren't doing enough, I may think we're already doing too much.”
- “I think you might pitch the idea, and then leave me with the workload.”
- “I think you might blame me and the elders if it doesn’t work.”
- “This might mean less money and human resources to carry out the work of the local church. I already feel underresourced.”
- “I need you to help me understand how this will work, because people may judge the ministry’s success by the numbers (rightly or wrongly).”
- “I’m always looking for new ministries that will work and bless the church, but ending ministries is nearly impossible. So, this has to work.”
Most ministers worth their salt don’t want to create resistance to congregational initiative needlessly. It just happens sometimes. Sometimes we resist for good reasons—there are bad ideas from bad motives championed by bad people. Sometimes, our churches are so over-programmed already there is simply no margin to add anything else. Sometimes, however, we create resistance for all the wrong reasons. We’re too tired. We don’t like the person championing the idea. We’re afraid if we go through with it, God may not provide for the needs of the church.
Today’s encouragement is to not be afraid of congregational initiative, and be prepared for God to move from among His people. That doesn’t mean the first, second, or tenth idea is the right one for your church. It just means we need to resist for the right reasons, not the wrong reasons. To those of us who would kill to have the church members coming up with passionate, creative vision…prepare thyself. Pray for it, and get ready for God to answer.