Updated: Mar 14, 2022
Start with WHY. If you don’t know your Why, very few will follow you to What. (Thank you, Simon Sinek.) Your Why should be compelling, clear, and should catalyze action.
There has never been a better time, in our lifetime at least, in a post-Christian context for the local church to prioritize deploying local leaders (pastors, evangelists, deaconesses, youth leaders, worship leaders, teachers, elders, executive directors, etc.) for the works of ministry! Pre-Christians (though they don’t know it yet) eternally depend on your church discovering, developing, and deploying all of the baptized for the works of ministry in their various vocations. And, yes, this includes all of the leaders mentioned above.
Simple. It is what God did in Genesis. It is what Jesus did. It is what Paul and the Early Church did. It is what the Church does.
1. It is what God did in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament.
27 So God created man in His own image,
in the image of God He created him;
male and female He created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The God of the universe gave leadership authority, power, and dominion to mankind at the very beginning of time! This blows my mind. God could (and still can) work apart from human engagement. Yet, He chooses to discover, develop and deploy us to be a part of the advancement of His kingdom, and stewarding of His creation.
This engagement did not stop after The Rebellion of Genesis 3. Yes, work and stewarding and leading became harder because of sin and selfishness, and pride. Yet, God still chose Abraham, and Abraham’s descendants, to lead fallen mankind back to Himself. This is truly unbelievable!
Let’s get super deep. This is an excerpt from my doctoral thesis (no one would ever read it unless I posted some of it here :) )
Christopher Wright beautifully summarizes the mission of “the sending God.” The Father is the only “unsent sender.” Jesus did not simply arrive on the scene some 2000 years ago. Jesus was sent. Wright states that over forty times in John’s gospel we read about Jesus being sent – whether from the evangelist or from Jesus' own lips. The author of Hebrews even calls Jesus “our apostle,” emphasizing that Jesus was the “sent one” appointed by God like Moses, only greater.... -1 First Peter 1:20 says, “He (Jesus) was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” The Father’s plan before the foundations of the world was to send His Son to redeem all of the fallen creation back to the Father.
Karl Barth states that the very concept of “mission” was used in the ancient church to describe the interrelations of the Trinity as a process of sending: The Father sending the Son, the Father, and the Son sending the Spirit. For Barth, mission was a matter of obedience to the “command of the Lord sounding here and now.”... -2
Subsequently, Jesus goes on mission to send both the Holy Spirit and the Apostles. There is great collaboration and interdependence between the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is never quite expressed that the Spirit sent Jesus, but Jesus is sent in the power and authority of the Spirit. Jesus is “filled with the Spirit” (Luke 4:18-19). Wright summarizes the collaborative mission of God in this way: “God the Son is sent by God the Father and God the Spirit. God the Spirit is sent by God the Son and God the Father. The apostles are sent by God the Son and God the Spirit. Only God the Father is the unsent sender.”... -3
Thanks for being one of the first to read part of my thesis…next to my Mom. Hey, Mom!
2. It is what Jesus did.
Jesus deployed His disciples during His ministry. I’ve read Luke 10 so many times. It never ceases to amaze me that the Son of God deployed 72 disciples who had been with Him for less than a year to go and do what He did - cast out demons, heal the sick, proclaim the kingdom of God. For goodness sake - they didn’t even fully get Jesus’ mission yet. They didn’t understand the entirety of who He was for (the world). They were prone to prideful power plays! Yep, yep and YEP! Yet, Jesus still deployed them!
If that is the way Jesus led, how much more should pastors and leaders in the local church deploy all of the baptized for works of ministry? If that is the way Jesus led, how much more so should pastors be bringing alongside future pastors (vicars) for apprenticeship opportunities to do what they do? These two rhetorical questions beg the answer - uh, yeah, we should be doing that a lot. If Jesus asked for help from His disciples (He didn’t need help), how much more so should we ask for and receive help from the body of Christ? Again, a silly rhetorical question.
Again, another excerpt from my thesis.
The mission of God is centered in the person and work of Jesus, and the sending of Jesus’ followers to declare what Jesus has done. Jesus’ apostles are “sent ones” who both share the Gospel message of Jesus and invite those who receive the message by faith to do the same. The Gospel message of Jesus requires disciples to make more disciples who make more disciples... -4 The multiplying mission of Jesus is powerfully portrayed in the rapid spread of the message of Jesus over the past 2,000 years. God’s mission narrows in Jesus and then widens to all.
Robert C. Crosby in his book, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration, says, “Jesus never sent anyone out to do anything alone; at least, I cannot find an instance in the Gospels in which He did so. He started His ministry by simply building a community of net fishermen. When He sent those disciples out to towns and villages, He sent them out two by two…Jesus’ primary strategy to accomplish this purpose was to raise up a team.”... -5
I was speaking with one of our student pastors recently as he thought about “Call Day” at the Seminary after completing his four years of residential study. He astutely said, “It’s kind of strange that Jesus sent out the apostles two-by-two, but I am sent out all by myself. I kind of wish we sent out leaders as Jesus did.” I responded, “That would be great…if churches could afford it.” Always the pessimistic pragmatist. (Actually, I’m not.)
3. It is what Paul and the Early Church did.
It should go without saying, but Paul and the Early Church did not have institutions of higher education that they relied upon for church leadership positions. Here are the qualifications for being an “overseer” (pastor) within the early church.
I Timothy 3:1-7
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2 Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5 for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Here is my summary - be able to teach and don’t be a doof. Okay, that is a little immature. Forgive me. How about this? Love and rightly handle the Word of God, rightly distinguish Law and Gospel, administer the Sacraments (namely Baptism and The Lord’s Supper), and be a person of integrity and deep character. Be a person who models what it looks like to follow Christ in all of your conduct. Simply put - lead like Jesus.
Leading like Jesus must naturally include deploying and sending others like Jesus. Thankfully Paul agrees.
2 Timothy 2:2
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Pastor, you are charged by God, God’s Son, the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul, and the Early Church to deploy leaders for the works of ministry. The people are right there, in your church, waiting to be discovered, developed, and deployed.
That is your Why!
Please let us know at the ULC if we can help you in any way. Join us next week as we explore Part 2 of the Whys for deploying local leaders!
1- Wright, Christopher The Mission of God’s People, 210.
2- Karl Barth, “Das Evangelium in der Gegenwart,” Theologische Existenz heute, no. 25 (Munchen: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1935), 33.
3- Wright, The Mission of God’s People, 211.
4- 2 Tim. 2:2
5- Robert C. Crosby, The Teaming Church: Ministry in the Age of Collaboration (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2012), 36.