As an associate it is tempting to become a “doer of ministry.” We can see the lead pastor as the visionary for the congregation/ministry and our role in Christian Education, Youth Ministry, Visitation, etc. as where that vision gets carried out. We have been hired to do youth ministry, we think, so we had better do the youth ministry. Whenever someone volunteers to help us, we say, “No thanks,” because we view the assistance as a veiled condemnation of our inability to do our jobs. We do a disservice to our congregation when we become the professional experts who do everything in our ministry area.
The Apostle Paul intentionally brought others around him. We read of Luke, Mark, Timothy, and others joining him on his missionary journeys (e.g. 2 Timothy 4:11). He wrote of those whom he sent to be with the churches in his absence. He appointed leaders to the congregations he had raised up and worked with other leaders who were also about building up the churches with whom he had relationships. As you read the New Testament letters you get the sense Paul was managing a network of church leaders. I would argue this is one of the major reasons Christianity grew under Paul’s leadership. He wasn’t trying to do it all on his own.
In my own tradition, United Methodist, John Wesley did much the same thing. The Methodist Movement was almost completely driven by lay people. John and his brother Charles were clergy in the Anglican Church, but almost no other leader was. Instead Wesley trained and empowered laypeople to do ministry with one another. Again, I believe this is why Wesley’s tiny “holy club” at Oxford grew into an international movement. Wesley, like Paul, did not do all of the ministry himself.
You too can do the same thing. You have not be hired to “do ministry,” despite what your job description may say. You have been called to multiply ministry by building leadership in others. Not only will you be building the ministry area you lead, but you will also be pouring into leaders who will extend the reach you have by yourself.
Yesterday, we kicked off our youth ministry for the new school year, and I was proud to introduce four young adults who will be leading our high school ministry – two of whom are alums of the youth program. I’m sure there are some who are wondering why I’m not doing what I was “hired to do.” I think I am following much more closely in the footsteps of Jesus who taught his disciples, Paul who led that network of church leaders, and Wesley who empowered the laity to lead than I would be if I were to go it alone. I know those 20-something young adults will reach youth who would not be able to relate to me at my advanced age (I’m in my 40s for goodness sake).
Your call is to be a leader of leaders – multiplying your ministry, and securing it for the future.