Last year brought about a significant change in my ministry: I went from serving on the staff of a 2000+ member church to serving a 100 member church. It’s been an interesting experience, to say the least. Most of the material available on volunteer ministry speaks to churches that have a membership over 100 and a church building from which to operate. We have neither. So, what about the small fish swimming in the big pond? The small church trying to adapt big church resources?
With the growing trend towards missional church-planting, there is also a growing need for adaptation of volunteer ministry resources to the particular circumstances of the new church plant and smaller congregations. The optimal time to ensure that equipping values* become part of the basic DNA of the congregation is when the congregation is just beginning.
*Equipping values: prayer, priesthood of believers and vision of the church as contained in Ephesians 4, servant leadership, team ministry, intentionality, proactive towards change.
The natural tendency—and often the necessity in those early days of a church’s development—is for the church-planter to do everything him/herself. The result? The pastor’s “fingerprints” are on every ministry of the budding church. Consequently, when the ministry load becomes too heavy for the pastor to manage alone, it can be difficult for others to assume leadership for established ministries… not to mention initiating new ministries. This may not be the intended result, but it’s what we get if we are not intentional about prevention!
If you are building a volunteer ministry in a new or small congregation, what steps are you taking to create an equipping culture? Which equipping values are easiest for you to model? Which present a challenge?