bits from bob....

Ministers Who Accept Ownership

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

I was talking with an elder. He and his fellow elders were working on hiring a new minister. He explained their goal: We are looking for someone who will take "ownership" of the things that happen at this church. No need for a lengthy explanation about Jesus as the head of the church-I understood what he was saying. "We need someone who will function as an owner functions in a business." No need for lengthy studies about the role of elders and ministers. The elders were not seeking someone to replace them and do their work. My elder friend was simply reflecting an obvious truth. In the course of a typical week, there are lots of things that need to be done that the elders cannot do. These elders needed someone available consistently and constantly to be the presence of the church in the community. They needed someone who would be in the community, reflecting Jesus to the community, meeting the community. They needed someone who could and would work in internal ministry concerns daily. They needed someone who would be serious about the work and seek to minister to the church and to the community through as many contact points as possible.

Perhaps the best biblical explanation of the problem the elder was reflecting is in John 10. The hireling under-shepherd does not genuinely care for the flock. He is an employee who feels no ownership. He is in it ultimately for himself. When problems come and dangers threaten, he bails out.

The elders in the church described above are not alone. There are lots of church leaders who are looking for someone who is sensitive to the positives and the negatives, to the good things and the bad things, someone who thinks about the work of the church constantly, someone who will help make things happen. Elders are looking for someone who is ready to get involved, someone who will be responsible for making it happen, and feel some responsibility when it does not work. Elders are looking for a minister who will fully commit-someone who will say, "This is my project and my life", someone who will step up and take responsibility across the board.

We have developed a professional ministry class, and along the way we have too often turned our ministers into hirelings. We have ministers who are employees rather than servants. With increasing frequency, preachers do not want to accept responsibility. I did what you hired me to do (sermon, 40 hours, etc.) and I am not responsible for the results. I don't do overtime. I don't do funerals on my days off. I charge $25 to open the building. If the church doesn't grow, it's not my fault. If people don't learn anything in my Bible class, it's not my fault. It's not my fault that people are complaining about the sermons. To such preachers, someone must ask, "Then whose fault is it?" If people don't respond to the preaching, whose fault is it? If the church doesn't advance, whose fault is it? There are many factors, granted. But a primary influence is the preacher. At least this is the beginning point, and if we don't get it right, not much else can go right.

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Last updated March 7, 2011