By Leonard Albert
Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you are going then any road will get you there.” All effective leaders ask themselves this question: “Why am I here and what am I to do?”
A dynamic local church lay ministry program begins with a clear understanding of the purpose of the laity. The first step in building the right strategy is to formulate your purpose. This purpose needs to be in line with Christ’s mission for us and the particular purpose of your church. God desires for the church to reach people with the gospel of Christ and help them grow to maturity. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), Jesus calls us to make disciples by sharing His message. In Ephesians 4:11-13, Paul teaches that God gives some people special abilities to equip other for works of service. Leaders, then, are called to disciple and equip people so they can do the actual work of the ministry and mature to become all God is calling them to be.
There are two foundational principles to remember as you think about the purpose of your lay ministry program in the local church. First, it takes a long time to make a disciple. Have a long-term perspective. Richard Foster said, “Our tendency is to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year, but underestimate what we can accomplish in 10 years.” Don’t look for a quick fix in a few months. Instead, pray and plan for what God wants to do over the next several years. Second, most meaningful change takes place in the context of relationships. People change as they live in interaction with other believers. Your lay ministry program should help people develop meaningful relationships with each other.
The next step is to ask your fellow members some tough questions:
- If your church could do one thing for you, what would you want it to be?
- What is the most valuable experience you had at the church in the last year?
- What is the worst experience you’ve had at church in the last year?
Now, prayerfully combine the thoughts and ideas generated by this material into a purpose statement for the laity of your church. As a guideline, here is what a sample statement looks like:
We, the people of the [insert church name] endeavor to encourage all believers to reach the lost people in our community with a credible offer of the gospel, and to teach them the doctrine that every believer is a minister and then strengthen the family by helping raise up godly men.
Allow your ministry to be purpose-driven rather than event-driven. Every event that you schedule as a part of your program should serve your overall purpose. When you schedule events make sure to tell the participants the “big picture” of lay ministry and how this event helps achieve it. People want to be a part of something going somewhere.
As mentioned earlier, the ministry must be relationship-oriented rather than task-oriented.
Without real and deep relationships, people will feel no sense of community. If we only call the laity together to “do” there will be no glue to hold them together when the planned event is over. Events attract the people, relationships make them stick. The Bible calls us to make “disciples” and pray for “workers.” Our goal is to equip them to do the work of ministry. Here’s a key idea: If your church focuses on getting its people to do “works” rather than “make disciples” it will burn them out. The purpose of our ministry, then, is to make disciples, and true disciples will become workers out of the overflow of their growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
Spend some time in pray and set a date and time to think about, create, and write your mission statement. Submit it to the pastor and other church leaders in order to secure their approval and acceptance.