Open-Handed Part 4 - Personal Ministry

This is my last post on this particular soap box. I don't know if it has been at all helpful to anyone besides me to think through these things, but that's the beauty of this being my blog!

The final major distinctive (there are many other minor features) of "open-handed" churches is an emphasis on personal ministry.

Open-handed churches are not anti-institutional, but they certainly de-emphasize the institution in favor of more organic forms of ministry. To put it more simply, and I've already said this, individuals don't feel the need to check-in with headquarters before they do great ministry.

To take it even further, an open-handed ministry can't by definition be a church with an attractional model of ministry. The emphasis of an open-handed church is getting the people in here out there to do the ministry, not getting all the people out there in here so that ministry can be done to them.

Here's what a commitment to personal ministry means:
  1. You cannot have your people at church 4 nights a week and expect them to do personal ministry outside the walls of your church. Don't try.
  2. There will often be highly effective servants of Christ who should not serve as a part of your "official" ministry. Teaching a Sunday School class or putting them on your board would be a distraction from their involvement somewhere else. You can't make a guy feel guilty for doing great ministry somewhere else and simply attending your church.
  3. You have to be selective in the programs you institute. If the primary function of a program is to bring people in and minister to them, you'll waste time and energy. If the program is designed to develop people to do great personal ministry, you'll get a huge bang for your buck.
  4. You have to be a champion for personal ministry. Most people grew up in churches that had a "you catch-em, we'll clean-em" mentality. You've got to help people see that ministry is their responsibility, not the institution's.
Celebrating personal ministry can be tough, and messy. But the dividend it pays over trying to micro-manage everything and hang onto ministry with a closed fist is well worth it.


jwhughes said...

You have stated the open-handed view of ministry very well, and I appreciate having it as a codification of a culture that tends to act like it believes Jesus when He said: "I will build my Church." This is another expression of the Liberty we have in Christ. I can enjoy the successful ministries of others without any thought of competition, envy, or jealousy. Such freedom causes those in the culture to keep their eyes on the ministry He has assigned, comfortably, so to speak.