From the Temple to a Cell Group: Equipped for Messy Ministry

I promised a while back that we would eventually get to priesthood. And after a few months with being distracted, it seems that now is a good time for that.

Today, we are working with a few people discussing new focused study and cell plants. Both inside and outside the Chicago-land area.

As we go through this process, questions we were previously faced with 7  years ago are coming back, and I am being forced to re-examine them. Oddly enough, I am coming to conclusions and providing guidance similar to the early days of OnEdge.

We avoid terms like “leadership” and instead use words like ministers and servants.  When folks are ordained, they understand as part of that process they are being called into a life of being a servant and for us that involves, in part, the following areas of focus:

– You must be present “in” the world where our folks live. That means a heavy focus on house visits and ministry involvement in “daily life” type of stuff.

– You must be generous. You must be willing to dedicate a large chunk of your life “outside” of worship to your calling. While personal balance and health is important, the reality of small group ministers is that there is a high cost to being a cell group minister and our folks know this going in.

– You must be an engaged mentor. One of our goals is to help others discover their gifts and calling. Our ministers are taught to be a fully engaged mentor.   Anywhere we go.   Anything we do.  We attempt to bring someone with, in the spirit of growth and mentoring.

– You must be humble and relatable. This is hard to explain, but when you are a church for the lost, you will end up in some unfortunate and messy ministry circumstances. We have a phrase in our church: “There is no Temple School course for this.” You have to approach ministry with a humble heart, and others need to be able to relate to you as a person. They need to know that your service to God and your love and understanding for them overshadows the weight of the moment.

– You must be low-maintenance. Very rarely willyou be celebrated. Your ministry is about service to others and not patting yourself on the back.

– You must be a learner, someone that wants to better understand God AND JUST AS IMPORTANT to understand the circumstances of our folks. Street knowledge and God knowledge are both important.

I could go on and on here, but as you can see I have not used the “preaching” word yet… It’s not even on my top 20 list for small group ministers.

As it stands today, I would lift up that we have over-focused the need for studied ministers. Our desire for deeper knowledge can be a positive thing, but it is simply not enough to engage the world we live in. We need more than just God knowledge.    I would argue that our lack of street knowledge and the shift away from being more personal and involved ministers have harmed us as a community.

I am not sure who the audience is here… But if you are in the process of putting a ministry team together, take my advice. Look beyond the capability to talk big or to have grand ideas. Look towards those that are humble, brave, hard workers, low-maintenance, lovers of people, and those that are willing to be God’s hands in a messiest of circumstances.

May God Bless You
– Brian

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