Mary Lou was polite and gracious when I visited her in the hospital. Really, nothing noteworthy took place; we exchanged greetings, I expressed concern and we prayed together. But something special happened when Francis ministered to her the next day. After a brief visit, Mary Lou asked, "Would you like to see my scar?" "Sure," replied Francis. Mary Lou untied her gown and showed Francis the results of her radical mastectomy. Perhaps it was her way of coping with the disfiguring surgery, certainly it was a way of receiving love and acceptance from her friend.
Francis wasn't helping the minister, she was the minister. She did what I couldn't do, she rubbed souls with her hurting friend. The gender issue wasn't what enabled her ministry to be effective, though that was certainly an issue, it was the close, informal relationship they shared.
God intended Christians to be ministers. Paul wrote: Ephes. 2:8-10 KJV "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches that God saves people on purpose. No person accidently stumbles across God, rather, God pursues the lost to redeem them unto himself. Luke 19:10 KJV For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
There is no room for people to boast in their salvation, God initiated it and God sustains it. Paul's instruction doesn't end with verse nine. Ephesians 2:10 teaches that He saves people for a purpose. God creates believers for a specific purpose and requires that they walk in the good works He prepares for them.
If God has called all believers to ministry, why aren't they ministering? Why is there a division between the clergy and laity? Herschel Hobbs says, "The devil won a great victory when he led Christians to distinguish between clergy and laity. This infers that the clergy should do the Lord's work, leaving the laity in the role of spectators." In other words, they choose to watch the minister.
Watch the Minister Church
The Pastor's role in the Watch Church is to put on a good performance for those who pay his salary. He busies himself pleasing his patrons and doing the work of the church. By its nature, this church creates a distance between the Pastor and people. Either because they elevate or denigrate him.
If they elevate him, their myopic view blurs their common sense that knows that the Pastor is subject to human frailties and sin like other members of the church. So they put him on a pedestal, because they feel his is better than they.
If members denigrate him, they put him on trial, because they feel he is not as good as he should be. From the cheap seats, any member can find the faults of a Pastor living in a fish bowl. They fail to remember that he is not the pastor because he is better than others, but because God called him to the task.
Often this church tries to control the pastor with committees and policies, withholding from him the authority to achieve what they hold him responsible to do. In effect, they set him up to fail, by withholding the very thing he needs to succeed--their ministry.
Help the Minister Church
The pastor is a benevolent dictator in the Help Church. Members assist him in his ministry, but they have no personal ownership. He gives personal direction to all the church's ministry and controls the activity of the lay ministers. Often, these pastors attempt to control the members by withholding the authority they need to complete what he holds them responsible to do. Sound familiar? It is the same problem that the Watch Church encounters, only in reverse.
In the Help Church, the pastor fears he will become ineffective if he is not the center of activity in the church. Not so in the Be Church, Lay people are co-ministers, participating in the ministry of the church. They have ownership of their ministries and the policies that guide the ministries.
God's plan is not for a believer to watch the minister or help the minister; God's plan is for every believer to be a minister. To that end He gives them,
The pastor of the Be Church doesn't want to control things, he just wants to guide or orchestrate the ministry. When I was in fifth grade, our teacher took us on a field trip to hear an orchestra play classical music. I didn't necessarily want to hear the music, but knew that even the worst day on a field trip is better than the best day in the classroom. Shortly after we arrived, the orchestra members began to tune their instruments; the sounds were hideous, even frightening. But, as the house lights dimmed, the curtain drew open, and the director tapped her baton on the pedestal-- silence prevailed. With one stroke of her baton, beautiful sounds begin to emerge from the stage.
The director did not need to be holding every instrument. She didn't even need to know how to play every instrument. What she did was direct each of the performers, organizing the sounds so they could play their beautiful, music.
The pastor does not have to have all the authority. He does not have to know how to do all the functions of the church. He simply needs to be directing the organization under the power of the Holy Spirit.
The pastor doesn't involve others in ministry to get out of work, he involves them so they can grow in Christ and God's work will be done.
In Acts 8:1, Luke describes a major turning point in the history of the early church, when the persecution of the church began. The Scripture states, "And Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles."
What was God's strategy to spread the Gospel? Everyone except the professionals, the apostles, went out. As the church was dispersed, people were able to spread the gospel everywhere they went. The Laos, God's people, went out and ministered--and the church grew.
Most church members are good at watching the minister and some have learned to helpthe minister. Perhaps it is time for them to learn to be the minister. Over the next month, we will study the Spiritual Gifts God gives to His people so they can minister. Will you commit to discover your gifts and use them to God's glory?