Delegation: A Two-Sided Coin of Great Value
- Friday, June 10, 2005
Delegation, enlisting others in the work of the ministry, is a skill that should be developed both for the good of the pastor as well as the good of the ministry. There is a mountain of statistical data that substantiates the fact that in a church, growth and contentment are directly related to how well the pastor involves the members.
The biblical model in Ephesians 4 is clear. The pastor is mandated to bring his flock to maturity so that they can participate in “the work of the ministry.” The skill of delegation is actually a two-sided coin benefiting both the pastor as the delegator as well as the workers to whom work is assigned.
Delegation, a Benefit for the Pastor
Delegation allows a pastor to multiply his ministry. A good question for the pastor to ask is, “Do I want to do the work of ten men, or do I want to employ ten men to do the work?” A pastor’s influence and effectiveness are multiplied through the ones he trains.
The parables of our Lord teach that assigning a task to a person gives him the opportunity to move to the next level of service. By building better people, a better church is built. As the church grows, a pastor’s ministry is multiplied.
In Acts 6, the early apostles were faced with a dilemma well known to every pastor: the challenge of focus. The question was, “Will I spend my time in prayer and in the ministry of the Word, or will I spend it serving tables?” The modern challenge is prayer and the Word or cutting the grass, cleaning the building, running the Sunday school program.
Delegation of responsibility allows for more focus in the pastor’s schedule. In a small church or at the beginning of a pastor’s ministry, the pastor must wear many hats. As people are trained and workers are enlisted, his focus should be on prayer and ministry of the Word.
A pastor’s stress levels are reduced when others help him bear the load. A pastor is not called to be “SuperPastor.” The man of God needs time for his wife and his family, as well as time for reading and rebuilding.
Last, but perhaps most important, the pastor concerned about and involved in employing his congregation in spiritual work is fulfilling God’s description for a good pastor. Winning, feeding, and pastoral care all have the goal of helping the individual to grow in usefulness to God. Ephesians 4:16 gives a challenging description of each member functioning in concert with all others and, in so doing, perfectly fulfilling God’s purpose for the church. This must be the goal of pastoral ministry.
Delegation, a Benefit to the Church
While this style of leadership has great benefits for the pastor, it has even greater benefits for the church. The golden coin of delegation has two sides.
Division of responsibilities and ministry is absolutely essential for uninterrupted growth. More than 80 percent of the churches in the U.S. have a membership of 75 or less. Many churches that pass this barrier approach 200 and never move beyond that number. Why are these patterns in growth so consistent across the spectrum of churches in our culture? These built-in barriers are determined by the need to delegate.
One man can care for only so many people. When that number is reached, a church either ceases to grow or the wise pastor involves others in pastoral care as well as in spiritual ministry. As a church moves through various levels of growth – 400, 600, 1,000 – reorganization is not only wise, it is necessary.
There is nothing that promotes spiritual growth and health like involvement in God’s work. Moving outside one’s comfort zone to do the Lord’s work encourages prayer, faith, and diligence. It is in that place that we learn of our own weakness and experience God’s strength. I Peter 5:5 says, “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” Spiritual service brings into focus our absolute need of Him so that into that need He pours His grace.
The more people that are using their gifts as described in I Corinthians 12, the more variety there will be in our ministry. God, in His wisdom, has certainly provided the church with diversity. Many a new ministry has sprung from the unique gifts of the unique people God has placed in His church. Bland indeed is the ministry limited to the gifts of the pastor alone.
Church giving is increased as church members are involved in ministry. Matthew 6 teaches, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” It is not hard to invest your money in a ministry in which you have already invested your heart.
Assimilation of new members, as well as the retention of visitors, is greatly facilitated when more people in the congregation are reaching out. People want to be where they are welcomed. A congregation trained and organized to be soul-conscious will multiply the outreach potential of any church.
How Do I Delegate?
The first step is a careful, honest evaluation of areas of ministry not functioning as they should. These areas may be described as ministry logjams. This evaluation is best done with the help of spiritually minded church leaders. Once these deficient areas are identified, helpers within the body with appropriate skills should be found. The search should begin on our knees. A mistake here will have a lasting impact on the church.
Future leaders must be selected using biblical criteria. Only people of proven reputation and consistent testimony should be considered. People that have proven to be faithful in past assignments should now be considered for greater responsibility. These future leaders should be teachable, flexible, and have a submissive heart. A stubborn, self-willed, carnal person, no matter how gifted, should never be given a platform from which to influence others.
Delegation is a skill every pastor should develop. Division of responsibility will make the pastor more productive and the church better balanced. While focusing more on the things that only he can do, the pastor becomes a better pastor. When members assist in ministry, the church becomes a better church. Pastor and people working together in clearly defined ways allows God’s work to be done more effectively for the glory of God.
Dr. Sweatt is pastor of Berean Baptist Church in Lilburn, Georgia.
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