My last few posts have been aimed at laying a foundation for thinking, talking, teaching, and preaching about true vocation–that is, the call of God on every believer to participate in missio Dei. I hope you are saying, “I got it already! Now what do I do about it?” Wise question. Helping people understand that they are called to ministry is only the beginning. The next step is to establish a clearly defined pathway that leads them to understand and step into their true vocation.
In Luke 10:1-24, Jesus provides a model from which we can learn.
- Cast the vision: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few…”
- Give directions: “Pray earnestly…carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road…remain in the house where you find a person of peace, eating and drinking whatever they provide…heal the sick and proclaim the nearness of the kingdom”
- Provide companionship for the journey: “…the Lord sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.”
- Prepare for failure: “…whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you…shake the dust of that town from your feet”
- Rejoice over success: “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name! … In that same hour, He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit…”
- Give thanks: “I thank you, Father…”
For the next couple of weeks, I will address necessary steps to provide a clearly defined path for your people to step into ministry. Whether you are serving a large congregation or a small one, it is absolutely essential that people can easily identify where the journey of discovery begins as well as the steps along the way.
Larger churches often have an established a process by which people get “plugged into ministry.” Usually the volume of people makes this a necessity. The problems that often arise, however, are due to gaps in the process where people get lost. For example, a common gap is to confuse pointing with directing. Another is to ignore the follow-up.
Smaller congregations have their own set of problems. They often make the mistake of thinking that, because they are small, it’s easy for people to see how to “plug in.” After all, there’s always a lot to do and not very many people to get it all done! The attitude can be, “Just do whatever needs doing!” This approach is haphazard and often leads to unsatisfying ministry experiences.
So, no matter the size of the church you are leading, a clearly defined path is critical.
Hold on… There’s a bigger problem with the examples I just gave than gaps in process and assuming it’s obvious. Did you catch it? If not, you’ve missed a critical first step: the paradigm shift from ministry as avocation to ministry as vocation. (If you need a refresher, read this.) This change in paradigm is absolutely critical to developing a clearly defined path to participation in missio Dei! Get that right and you are ready for the next steps!