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Cruise Director or Equipper?

You will never have a need for the “new learning” if you haven’t used the “old learning.”

Those challenging words were spoken by Pastor Harvey Carey during the Friday evening session at the LifeServe Conference earlier this month. He was sharing from his experience living out Ephesians 4:11-16 as it related to planting a church in downtown Detroit, Michigan. God called him to Detroit six years ago to plant Citadel of Faith Covenant Church and, as he recounted the story of the early days of Citadel’s formation, I wondered if he was a brave soul following a victorious King or a total lunatic! By the end of his presentation, I was convinced that he’s not a lunatic.

The Lord led Pastor Carey to that Ephesians 4 passage and challenged him to actually do it. And he did. Harvey Carey successfully planted and grew a church with zero staff. Zip. Nada. Just one pastor determined to build a church according to God’s blueprint. (Just this year, Citadel added an executive pastor. Prior to that, it was Pastor Carey, a music minister, and an administrative assistant.)

“The purpose of leadership is not to do the ministry, but to equip those around us to do the ministry.”

When people ask Pastor Carey, How did you do all that ministry with just you?”, he replies that his whole job is to take those people who come every week and equip them to do the work of ministry. He went on to say, “The job of the leader is to equip, to build up, to develop, to train those in our ranks to go out and do the work of ministry. What kind of revolution would there be with your volunteers if they quit coming to meetings expecting you to provide every single detail of what they are supposed to do, but instead you equip, train, encourage and exhort them in the things they are uniquely gifted to do and release them to the world to do the ministry, then come back together and do it all over again?”

Something else he said really hit home with me. “Why do we have singles ministry, men’s ministry, women’s ministry, youth ministry…? Why have we made it ministry to those people rather than ministry by those people. We are like cruise directors who entertain and come up with new ideas to make that group happy. Who said that is the biblical model for ministry? Do you know how much money is wasted in the Body of Christ on staff who are glorified cruise directors as opposed to having individuals who are gifted to help equip those in the ministry to do the ministry? While they are doing the work of ministry, they build community, build relationships, do life together, and then they grow as they do the ministry!”

Before we ask for “new learning,” perhaps we should examine whether we are actually using the “old learning!” I encourage you to visit Citadel’s website at http://citadeloffaith.org to see what happens when a leader actually uses the “old learning.” And then you may want to ask yourself if you have become a glorified cruise director… or are you an equipper: one who intentionally equips, encourages, exhorts and releases those God brings to you so that they are doing the ministry?

2 thoughts on “Cruise Director or Equipper?

  1. As usual, good article and an arrow right to me Andee! I liked the inclusion of Pr. Carey’s website.

    It was a good presentation at LifeServe and this is a good recap and reminder. What I struggle with is how to equip those that don’t seem to want (or is ready for?) equipping. How do you give people salt to want to strive to higher leadership roles and deeper service and move people away from the expectations of having a cruise director on staff?

  2. That is such a challenge, Rachel, for all of us! I wish I had some magic formula but, alas, I do not. 🙂 However, I have been thinking a lot lately about what it might look like if we did a better job of helping people see their ministry in the context of their every day life. For example, reframe fixing breakfast for the family and getting them off to school and work in the context of serving Jesus. I know many of us talk about this, but I think it takes consistently asking the right questions to reframe the mundane routine of life into serving opportunities until we think of everything as ministry. Not a new concept, certainly–Brother Andrew wrote about some time ago! If we could begin to think like that, however, would it be easier then to extend ourselves beyond the everyday stuff to something requiring a little more effort, something outside our comfort zone? Would that create a desire for folks to know their gifting and identify their heart for issues or people groups so that they could serve more effectively? I don’t know, but it’s just something that’s been bubbling inside me for awhile now!

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