This is a guest post from Cody Binder. Cody's job is to help our current church partners squeeze the maximum amount of ministry out of their partnership with Church Community Builder. We call it Church Leader Advancement. He has a ministry background in Student and Family Ministry and a deep passion for the health of the bride of Christ. Follow Cody on Twitter: @CodyAlanBinder
My wife, Laura, and I moved to Colorado Springs last summer. Since moving to the 'Christian Mecca', we have ironically struggled to find the vibrant life-giving community that we have known in previous chapters of our walk with Christ (@btbible, @JohnBrownUniv, @campeagle, @RedcloudCamp). Laura and I have both served in full-time vocational ministry in recent years and therefore know why serving the Kingdom out of an overflow of the heart is one of the most exciting and beautiful things that we can do in this life. We also know that serving out of an obligation is a one-way road to burnout. Being that we were recovering ministry burnouts, we were looking for men and women older and wiser than we who have the desire and experience to disciple younger believers.
As we searched for this community, we began to notice a consistent trend. Everywhere we went, we were being asked to lead or serve before we could get connected to community. We were being asked to give time and effort before we could receive anything. We found a church that we felt at home in, went to the membership class, and became members. We were then immediately asked to lead a small group of people in our life stage and serve with the youth group. A consistent message was communicated that 'the best way to get to know people is to serve'. I don’t think our church is alone in this. In truth, I believe this is the norm, and I think the church has it backwards.
When you chose to follow Christ, you may have begun to follow him before you really knew or loved him. You might agree that it would have been better to seek to know and love Jesus first, and then begin to follow him. This might have prevented years of performance-based effort to please God and make him less angry about your sin. As we now know, we don’t have to do a thing to earn our salvation. We follow Christ out of joy, not obligation. I believe the same applies to service and leadership. The best way to motivate people to give of themselves, and do so for the long haul, is to do everything that you can to create a culture that fills people up before you ask them to serve.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV), emphasis added
Equip, then ask. But how do you equip?
Synonyms for equip include provide, furnish, supply, issue, stock, provide, arm, endow, prepare, qualify, suit, train, and ready. The dictionary definition of equip is 'to supply with the necessary items for a particular purpose'. This begs the question: what is necessary to begin serving or leading? To me, the necessary things include supporting relationships, biblical teaching, encouragement, support, accountability, a sense of belonging, and a sense of purpose ... just to name a few. Here is how you equip — by cultivating environments that provide these things. Simply put, you want your people to serve out of an overflow. If this isn’t happening, they are more than likely leading out of a misguided obligation, and it's only a matter of time before they burn out or find themselves serving for the wrong reasons.
HOT TIP: Do a word study on the Greek word for equip, katartismos, and its root word, katartizó.
To be continued...
What is your church doing to cultivate community and equip people to lead?