God designed the universe to work in order, and everything God has ever designed and built works in an order and produces after its own kind. Trees produces trees, cats give birth to cats, dogs give birth to dogs, and horses give birth to horses.
Pastors should be giving birth to pastors! That means two things: firstly, you should be raising up people in the church who end up being pastors – they are appointed in the body of Christ by Jesus to be part of the pastor ministry as outlined in Ephesians 4. That’s why good pastors don’t just pastor, they are always looking at planting churches because they are raising up pastors!
Secondly, it means that the attitude of the pastor should be infectious among the church. All the good shepherd things – preparing food for the sheep, caring for the sheep, going after the lost sheep – should be part and parcel of the attitude and culture of people in the whole church.
The idea that the pastor is a lone wolf who does everything couldn’t be further from the Biblical model. I believe it has been adopted because a lot of pastors in ministry today have never been called by God to be pastors, are not able to bear pastoral-fruit because they are not a pastoral-tree in the first place! But those who are called by Christ to be pastors should easily bear fruit and that fruit should be pastoral fruit.
Now this process of raising up pastors and leaders within the church is a three step process:
Flow simply means to flow in your gifting and calling. If you are a pastor, pastor. Bearing fruit is not hard if you are a tree – it’s natural. If you are called to pastor, it’s natural to bear fruit. Just do what you are called to do.
Secondly, as you go, identify those around you who are called. This process can be very supernatural, or very natural. Sometimes God will be very specific and clear about who is to be your assistant pastor, your community pastor, etc. Other times it is like Acts 15 “it seemed right to the Holy Spirit and us” – the person is just the right fit, and you don’t need a voice from heaven to know that person is part of your church.
When identifying people, don’t just look for gifts. Gifts are not enough. A qualified person for you to raise up must have the following three qualities: they must have a gifting, they must have character, and they must have your culture. Some people are really gifted but have no character – they will destroy your church. Destroy it. Do not raise up people who are not focussed on improving and developing their character. Don’t appoint greedy people, people who are selfishly ambitious or people who cannot relate to the opposite sex with respect and purity. That will kill your church. Other people are gifted and have character but don’t get your culture – people like that – even with the best intentions – will split your church. It’s slightly better than getting destroyed, but it’s still painful.
Your culture might be really into small groups – if so, don’t raise up people who don’t get small groups. If your culture is multi-ethnic, watch people relate to those from all sorts of backgrounds before appointing.
Then the final stage is to release. This is not a once and for all – it’s about steps. As the church grows, your responsibilities and task will grow, and other people’s jobs will grow. So you need to release people step by step. Get them to receive an offering before you ask them to preach. Get them to put out chairs before they receive an offering. If they are too big for putting out chairs, there is a massive clue there! If they can’t usher but only want the upfront job, or the job with prestige, you know something!
But those people who are willing to work, release. Some pastors hold tightly to everything – and I get it – you should be a control freak – you have built that church with God’s grace and your blood, sweat and tears, and you should not let someone who has invested a lot less, and will be fine if the church falls apart, turn the church into their personal ministry pool. That’s all true. But you can stay in control of the vision, but release control of the elements of the church and raise up others. Others who will do things differently, others who may betray you and may stab you in the back. Jesus knew Judas would betray him, but he still delegated and released the twelve. I found over time that Jesus’ ratio of 12 apostles:1 money hungry, power crazed, ego driven, back stabbing Judas is about right. People will hurt you, but others will help you. And the help outweighs the hurt, and the world is too large for another one-man band church – so you must look beyond your insecurities and hurt and release people into ministry.
Then as they are released, continue to supervise. Continue to advise. Continue to push out of their comfort zone. They can preach – but can they give an altar call, can they preach in series? They can tidy the cupboard after church, but can they train someone else to do it? They can sing in the choir, but can they lead worship? Always flow, identity and release – it’s part of the role of a pastor.