It's morning in Los Angeles. Pastor Mike Tolbert and I are here for something called Leadership Academy #8. One of the best pastors in the United Methodist Church, Rev. David Bridgman, is here to teach the 150 or so pastors and laypeople from various United Methodist Churches in Southern California and Hawaii. The basic theme is how to grow a church beyond the 150+ range.
It's been very refreshing and revealing to both of us. The basic question is, "Is yours a pastor driven church, where most of the ministry is done by the pastors, or are you a lay driven church, where much of the ministry is done by the laypeople?" Rev. Bridgman said in no uncertain terms that if a church is mostly pastor driven, it will get to a certain size and stay that way. It will create a bottleneck that will prevent the church from growing larger.
I have to confess that ours is definitely a pastor driven church. Pastor Sam, now Pastor Mike, and I pretty much handle most of the ministry duties, such as pastoral visitation, worship leadership, leadership of groups and studies, and a lot of the administration.
What's wrong with that? Isn't that the way it's supposed to be? Isn't that why we hired the pastors? Well...in one form of church culture, that's true. But I have come to believe that the true purpose of the church is for pastors to train and encourage laypeople to do ministry leadership.
And the main reason is that the laypeople can experience the amazing joy of being in active ministry for the sake of Jesus Christ. And that is an incredible experience indeed.