Rev. Mike Hilson (Lead Pastor at New Life-La Plata) and Chris Waggoner (New Life’s executive pastor) presented at the Eastern New York – New England District pastors conference this week. In the Tuesday morning session, Chris took the platform to share helpful insights from his years of leadership with staff and volunteers.
In addition to a long and strong list of ways to affirm and develop your team, Chris challenged the pastors to “stop chasing what God is not blessing.” Chris made the point that often we don’t have the staff or resources to do the new thing that God is blessing because we’re unwilling to let go of programs or activities that were once useful but have ceased to be effective.
As Chris was wrapping up his presentation, Mike Hilson (Lead Pastor at New Life) jumped in to remind us of the power of building a team to accomplish more together than we could alone. His humorous way of explaining this began with “Do stuff.”
This is where every leader starts. Whether it’s creating a big event or hospital visitation, every pastor does stuff. However, until the leader is willing to recruit, train and empower other people do to the stuff that he or she has been doing, the bottleneck to the growth of ministry is the pastor.
When the pastor moves to the next level, more people can use their gifts and abilities to multiply the ministry. Not only does more get done and more needs get met but each new person involved in “doing stuff” develops a greater sense of belonging and ownership of the ministry. In this next level of leadership, the pastor has to function as a manager/mentor of people who “do stuff.”
The next step of building this ministry base is becoming a leader/mentor of the manager/mentors of people who “do stuff.” As the ministry grows, the pastor must become a leader of leaders. When a church is ministering to 1000 or more, the pastor is the vision provider for leaders of leaders of managers of people who “do stuff.”
Mike’s outline of changing role of the leader in a growing organization reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s directions to the growing church in Ephesus (Ephesians 4:11-13). The equipping/teaching ministries are to prepare God’s people to “do stuff.”
Steve Murrell, author of “WikiChurch” and pastor of Victory Church in Manila, describes this as “mentors-ministers-maturity.” Only when the equippers/teachers mentor the saints to be effective in their ministry can the whole body move to maturity.
Steve argues that this usually breaks down in churches because the people, and some pastors, think they have to be as mature as the pastor before they begin to minister. The result, in Steve’s words, are churches full of “overworked pastors, overfed members and unengaged communities.”
Ministry is one of the most direct paths to maturity. The ministry leader serves best by recruiting, training and empowering people to “do stuff.” Then, as more and more people are released to “do stuff,” the pastor grows into a leader of leaders of managers of people who are ministering to a wider range of needs and greater number of people than the pastor could ever have served alone.
My responsibility as a leader is not to just “do stuff” but to create systems and opportunities to ensure that a growing and maturing body of believers get to “do stuff.”