“If you want to change the face of outreach and evangelism in your congregation then you need to start raising up a new kind of leader. The church needs to stop overburdening their leaders with additional tasks. And instead, focus their mission, equip leaders for ministry and send them out to proclaim Christ to a society looking for answers.” Keith Haney
Avoiding Leadership Burnout
One of the biggest challenges for the small church is how to get things accomplished with so few leaders. The quote above is designed to be a jumping off point for this post. You need to stop operating as a big church. Big churches have the staff and the additional leadership to take on more avenues of ministry. Smaller congregations do not. Trying to be all things to all people just means that fewer and fewer people are wearing more and more hats. The leadership gets stretched and pulled like taffy until they reach a point where the taffy snaps and when the taffy snaps you have leadership meltdowns and burnout. I have never done an adequate job juggling multiple plates and responsibilities all at the same time. I recall at some point starting to resent the person or individuals who put all those burdens on my back at once.
Equip Leaders for Ministry
Where do you begin to equip people for the mission of Christ? I love this illustration:
When Hudson Taylor was director of the China Inland Mission, he often interviewed candidates for the mission field. On one occasion, he met with a group of applicants to determine their motivations for service. “And why do you wish to go as a foreign missionary?” he asked one. “I want to go because Christ has commanded us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” was the reply. Another said, “I want to go because millions are perishing without Christ.” Others gave different answers. Then Hudson Taylor said, “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testing, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing; namely, the love of Christ”. Source Unknown
The love of Christ is the heart of what we need to carry on the work that He began. It is out of love for Jesus that we share the message of salvation with those outside of God’s grace. It is out of love that we face trials and testing yet remain true to our faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians, “If we are ‘out of our mind,’ as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:13-15
Equipped leaders are leaders who are grounded and compelled by the love of Christ. Love never fails. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is the master motivator.
Send Your People Out
For those who are sent out. Keeping your eyes on the mission is important. If you take the time to examine what you are doing, it will scare the heck out of you. You are going out into the world that is seeking answers but is opposed to the very nature and person of Jesus. Jesus’ way is in stark contrast to the ways of the world. We need to approach our work as soldiers of the cross like this Marine approached his deployment.
One afternoon author Patsy Clairmont found herself on an airplane, sitting next to a young man. She writes, “I had already observed something about this young man when I was being seated. He called me “Ma’am.” At the time I thought, ‘Either he thinks I’m ancient, or he’s from the South where they still teach manners, or he’s in the service.’ I decided the latter was the most likely, so I asked, “You in the service?” “Yes, Ma’am, I am.” “What branch?” “Marines.” “Hey, Marine, where are you coming from?” “Operation Desert Storm, Ma’am.” “No kidding? Desert Storm! How long were you there?” I asked. “A year and a half. I’m on my way home. My family will be at the airport.” I then commented that he must have thought about returning to his family and home many times while he was in the Middle East. “Oh, no, Ma’am,” he replied. “We were taught never to think of what might never be, but to be fully available right where we were.” Focus on the Family, July 1993.
Here is the way Jesus described this in Luke 9: “Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” v.62
To be effective witnesses we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith. Because if we take our eyes off him as Peter did, we start to concentrate on the wind and the waves of life. Those turbulent waters can sink us. The winds of divisive talk can overwhelm us. The stormy seas of Satan’s hold on the strongholds of society can discourage us. But Paul reminds us that we are more that conquerors. We are sent out to break down those strongholds with the Word of God.
Other posts to encourage the Small Church: