Home » Equipping » Is the grass greener on the other side?

Is the grass greener on the other side?

I have a friend who shared recently that she is trying to find the right place in her church to share her God-given design for ministry. It was a bit strange hearing this from her. When we met five years or so ago, she was an up and coming staff member at her church and a catalyst for integrating equipping values into the church culture. Last year she moved to another church, leaving the church staff role. The last thing I would have expected was this difficulty in finding a place to serve in her new church. My friend went on to say that her new  church is very programmatic and staff driven, making it hard to work in as a volunteer…leading her to this conclusion:

“… in my experience, equipping ministry is wasted on most large churches and has the most potential in small churches, where you are still expected and can do the one-on-one ministry focus.”

To be honest, her comment stopped me dead in my tracks. Is she right? I wondered. I’ve been pondering this for several days and I think it merits some conversation. I have some thoughts…but, frankly, I’m more interested in yours.

So…what do you think? Is equipping ministry wasted in large churches? Is it more applicable in smaller congregations? Why? What led you to your conclusion?

I admit that this is not a particularly critical issue–at least not on first pass. However, I think we can learn something from one another, no matter which side of the church-size fence we are on. If nothing else, we might learn that the grass really isn’t any greener on the other side!

4 thoughts on “Is the grass greener on the other side?

  1. I suspect the issue isn’t the size of the church, but the approach to ministry. Your friend labelled the church as “programmatic and staff driven”. Churches that rely on programs to accomplish its purposes are often not very interpersonal and tend to be passive. If a congregation chooses to outsource its ministry to paid staff, then they’ve made a choice about who they are and what they’re called to be/do that discourages “lay” contributions. Such churches regrettably have traded their biblical identity/calling for a consumer model. And if this is true, then it is definitely a critical issue.

  2. I really love your phrase “outsource its ministry to paid staff!” Outsource indeed!!! Several years ago I read an article about a church that intentionally trimmed their staff not for financial reasons, but simply because they realized the truth you point to here, John. They had such a large staff that the laity had no need to serve and were quickly developing a consumer mentality.
    Another drawback to the staff-driven approach is that it fosters a tendency to establish a volunteer pipeline rather than develop capable–much less high-capacity–leaders.
    Thanks very much for your comments, John!

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