From the Temple to a Cell Group: “The Rule of 75”

Over the past months, we have given a brief introduction on our need to change and scale down. We talked about the need to super-serve, and our need to leave our bubble to get a feel for perception. This month, I want to talk about priesthood and ministry leadership. But first a few disclaimers:

– Last month I made the claim that I was not going to focus on those that had a strong / vibrant congregation. Please keep that in the back of your mind.

– I am very bothered by the fact that I am talking about priesthood before I am talking about the body. It’s a slippery slope, and in no way am I attempting to elevate priesthood above the body. That’s the opposite of what I want to do. I decided to start here, because I want to lead you through a journey and to a place. I felt logically talking about this first made the conversation easier.

OK, enough with that…

– I am convinced that we have GREAT people with HUGE hearts serving in ordained priesthood roles.

– I am convinced that we have GREAT people in our congregations and OUTSIDE our congregations with endless potential to minister to others.

– I am convinced that “how” we worship (the methods we use, the places we meet, etc.) should ENHANCE ministry in all areas (worship, personal ministry, mentoring, etc.)

With that said…

– I am also convinced that our small congregations struggle with burnout, especially within leadership.

– I am also convinced that “how” we worship is top heavy. In other words, there is a high cost for how we worship, and that high cost is lowering our effectiveness. (Ouch, I know.)

– I am also convinced that “how” we choose to worship often comes at a high price: personal ministry, mentoring, and church growth suffer.

– I am convinced that “how” we worship is harming our ability to minister. It’s killing our congregations.

With me so far??

OK, let’s do an activity. Draw a large bucket. That bucket represents how much time you have in life. Draw a line in that bucket that represents your non-church time spent (family, work, sleep, eating, etc). One big line. Everything that you do that is not directly engaged in your ministry. (Note, I understand there is some overlap, but just play along).

Now, that extra space is your ministry time. Stuff that you do to directly serve your congregation, its people, the people of this world, plan sermons, plan services, etc. We’ll call that extra space “ministry time”.

– What percentage of that ministry time is planning sermons?

– What percentage of that ministry time is planning services?

– What percentage of that ministry time is meeting 1-1 with members building relationships and engaging lives?

– What percentage of that ministry time is meeting with non-members in acts of ministry?

– What percentage of that ministry time is logistical (mowing church lawns, printing bulletins, etc)?

The “Rule of 75” is a guideline that I try my best to use both personally and within our cells. I believe that 75% of my ministry time MUST be dedicated to relationships, balanced between those within my church and non-members of the church. Balanced between pastoral care, outreach, and mentoring. Therefore only 25% of my time should be spent on “the act of church”. Planning worship, preparing sermons, printing bulletins, updating budgets, taking care of grounds, and more… all within that 25%.

When I first went through this process, I was shocked at how little time I was putting into people. The vast majority of my time was being spent “doing church”, and it was having a negative impact on me and my ministry. This realization led me to a scary conclusion… The only way for the “Rule of 75” to happen was to drastically rethink “how” we did church. While it sounds extreme, it allows a small group a ministers to focus on actual ministry and serve a large group of people that would typically be impossible. However, I believe it results in a more nimble and effective church, a more engaged / refreshed priesthood, and a place of worship with deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I encourage you to go through this exercise and give it prayerful consideration. Next month, we’ll continue to explore what cell-based priesthood actually do 🙂

God Bless – Brian

“From the Temple to a Cell Group” is my attempt to make the case that in order for us to respond to Christ’s mission for our church we need to think small and intimate. We need to walk away from both “church” as we know it and our internal desires to “go big”. (See the older posts in this series.)

2 thoughts on “From the Temple to a Cell Group: “The Rule of 75”

  1. Carman says:

    Well said, Brian, I like this comment and find it helpful. When I think of it, 75 should probably be the minimum, but that certainly hasn’t been the case in my life. Thank you!

  2. An extremely important piece of reading to all those who are either priesthood members or aspiring priesthood members. As one who is going through some difficult spiritual encounters (of the third kind) I urge all of you who read this, to heed the advice given before we lose our religion! The advice given to me was to, “be who God has called you to be…”

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