The first you feel when you lay awake at night thinking of all the things your church could be doing, if only you had more time…
The second you feel when it’s 9:00 p.m. on a Saturday and you’re just beginning to write Sunday’s sermon, because meetings gobbled up your week.
The third you feel when you spend months planning a new ministry, and five people came to launch night.
All three of these common experiences relate to core reasons you must be raising up new leaders in your church. (And if you’re not, your church’s ministry could be lagging—and you may be at risk of burning out.)
1. The need is too great
Simply put, there are more needs than one person can handle.
Pastors carry a lot of guilt that they aren’t doing enough. But if congregants saw your calendar, tracked your hours, and counted your roles, they’d probably say, “How are they doing this much?”
Almost always, it’s not your weakness that’s the problem. It’s the load. You weren’t made to bear that much weight.
And you’re not alone—44% of churches have one or fewer full-time staff members, and the average staff-attendee ratio is 86:1. That’s a lot of people for one person.
We hear from pastors all the time that they don’t feel like there’s enough time in the week.
But there’s a myth sneaking around there—that time is something you can’t get more of.
You will only ever have 168 hours in a week. “If only I had more time…” is impossible. It’s unrealistic. It’s wishing to live outside of the limitations God has placed on you.
The need is too great for you.
Instead, responsible leaders say, “If only we could…”
2. The Bible doesn’t prescribe solo leadership
Ephesians 4:11–12 tells us, “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ . . .” As we go through the trenches of ministry, it’s easy to get stuck in the tyranny of the urgent and just meet every need we see. But our call (no matter the size of our church) is not to do all the ministry—it’s to equip the saints to do ministry.
Acts 6:1–7 is another example of this. A need arises (widows being neglected in food distribution), the pastors have other things to do (prayer and ministry), but the need is critical. So they appoint other people to meet it (deacons). The result? The word of God spread and the Church increased in number (v. 7).
Equipping people for the work of ministry isn’t a new idea, or even just a New Testament idea. Back in Exodus 18:13–26, we see Moses start his own leadership network. Moses had been Israel’s sole leader and mediator, and it was wearing him out. With a fresh outside perspective, Moses’ father-in-law urged him to give away leadership, establishing leaders over groups of “thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens” (v. 25). By sharing the burden of leading God’s people, Moses was free to focus on the things no one else could do.
So when your week is gobbled up by meetings and you have little time for the word and prayer (Acts 6:4), the answer is to get out of more meetings. Raise up other people to lead them.
3. Responsibility creates “stickiness”
It’s not just that the Bible calls us to equip our congregants for ministry. The reality is people are craving ministry and leadership training. We often hear about young people leaving the church in droves, but studies are showing that the ones who are given responsibility tend to stay. That doesn’t mean you should give responsibility away willy-nilly, but it shows that “. . . if you want someone to join your congregation and feel part of the place, they need to have something to do.”
The more you can give away ministry responsibility to other people, the less you need to drive enthusiasm around ministry—because you activate other people’s enthusiasm. It’s much easier for five people to launch new ministries than for one person to launch five.
Developing leaders in the local church enables more people to receive individual shepherding from faithful and able people. By devoting time to adding leaders to your church, you can reach even more people with the good news of the gospel, while helping leaders grow in their faith.
Watch the webinar on demand to learn how you can identify, train, and empower leaders for ministry in your church—even if you don’t have the budget to hire them.