Open-Handed Part 2 - Giving Ministry Away

Yesterday I started talking about what it looks like to be an "open-handed church" by saying that open-handed churches think in terms of Church (with a big "C") before they think about their own individual church (with a small "c"). The local church is not the hope of the world; Jesus is.

One of the primary ways this kind of thinking shows up is in giving ministry away.

In a lot of churches you get the distinct feeling that the people in the pew exist to help the pastor (or staff) have a really great ministry. Open-handed churches feel like that's a backward philosophy. The pastor and staff (according to Ephesians 4:11-13) exist to help the people have great ministry wherever they are.

When a person trusts Christ or begins to grow spiritually, the question is "how could that person serve Christ?" before it is "how could that person serve our local church?". The difference is subtle, but extraordinarily profound.

Close-handed churches expect their people to check-in with the church staff before they begin a Bible study with their neighbors. Kids aren't encouraged to be a part of Young Life, or FCA, or something else at their school because it might take them away from a youth event. Pastors lead everything; volunteers set up and clean up. Close-handed churches see materials they have developed as an opportunity to promote their brand; not as a way to further ministry.

The open-handed church looks for ways to give ministry away. Their staffs exist to develop and empower others so that they are fully equipped to have great ministry whether that ministry contributes to the the little "c" church's nickels and noses or not.