Developing People and Not Structures

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.

In a book entitled The Trellis and the Vine: the Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything, authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne suggest that churches know “what its aims and goals are, how it proceeds, and what part we all play in its exercise” (pg. 17). This book is not about building structures, but about building people into disciple-makers.

In Ch. 2, a chapter entitled “Ministry Mind-shifts”, the authors recommend eleven different shifts (and I will share ten of them with you here) that need to be made in churches. The following “mind-shifts” can be found on pgs. 17-26 of this book and I will include a short summary paragraph of each “mind-shift.”

Trellis and the Vine#1 – “From running programs to building people.” Instead of considering what ministries you would like to have or add to your church, think about the spiritual needs of your people and what ministries they need to help them grow. Then build ministries to meet the needs of your people.

#2 – “From running events to training people.” More evangelistic events do not mean you are doing evangelism. Providing venues for people to evangelize but failing to train and equip them to do the work of evangelism is counter-productive.

#3 – “From using people to growing people.” Allowing volunteers to work “behind the scenes” and never be equipped for the work of the ministry will lead to ministry and spiritual burnout. We need to make sure we are proactive about encouraging them in the work of the ministry and helping them develop their giftedness.

#4 – “From filling gaps to training new workers.” Create ministries when God gives you the gifted people to fill the gaps for those ministries. Don’t say, “We need this ministry and then hope God provides the people later.”

#5 – “From solving problems to helping people make progress.” Ministering to people should not take place when problems invade their life (e.g., hospital stays, counseling needs, etc.). It should be balanced with encouraging them and discipling them in every life situation.

#6 – “From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership.” Don’t ever underestimate the usefulness of someone who has never been professionally trained for the work of the ministry.

#7 – “From relying on training institutions to establishing local training.” Character is rarely developed in academic institutions; that should be the training ground of the church.

#8 – “From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion.” Keep looking on the horizon.

#9 – “From engaging in management to engaging in ministry.” Do not overload your schedule with administration at the expense of shepherding people.

#10 – “From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth.” Filled seats or pews is not a reliable indicator of making disciples; maturing Christians is real Gospel growth.

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