by Dennis Wiggs
Someone has said that a good leader will not do the work of eight men, but get eight men to do the work. That is the challenge for the young preacher.
My brother-in-law, the late John S. Craft, was a missionary to Brazil. After serving one term, John told me how he thought mission boards ought to select missionaries.
He suggested that the prospective missionary be placed in a room with several small children and a box of building blocks. The mission board should observe behind a one-way minor. If the candidate sat down with the children, taught them how to erect something with the blocks, and allowed them to create the building, approve him to be a missionary.
If the candidate made something out of the blocks in the presence of the children, suggest that he apply himself to another line of service. This might be a good standard of approval for ordination councils as well.
The young pastor is often called to a small congregation. A medical doctor told me once, “Dennis, if you let them, the congregation will permit you to do everything.” That advice was much better than the medication he gave me for a suspected ulcer.
Yes, I know it may seem better to do it yourself. The job will get done and done your way. However, you will find that you can’t do everything. The sooner you learn to organize the congregation, the smoother running the program will operate.
For example, decide what jobs need to be accomplished at the church. Select (or secure through a nominating committee and church vote) leaders for those positions.
Jesus prayed all night before He selected the apostles (Luke 6:12). Before you approach anyone for a leadership position, seek the Lord’s guidance. Write down the names of the prospective leaders and their responsibilities. Talk to the Lord about those church members.
As a young preacher in a new congregation, be sure to talk with an older church member about your leadership selections. In my first pastorate, I put up the names of men I wanted to stand at the front door and welcome visitors to our revival services. That was a mistake. Some of the men on the list had long-standing grievances against one another. Even before the meeting began, I was in hot water. Showing the list to a deacon or two would have improved that idea.
After leadership positions are given to selected men or women, meet with the leaders individually and discuss their roles. Make the meeting short, maybe after church service. Let them make suggestions before you dictatorially demand that the positions fulfill certain responsibilities.
Pray with the leaders. Then occasionally meet with them for suggested improvements.
Trusting leaders to minister effectively will demand patience on your part. Pray for leaders by name. Tell them you are praying for them. Make suggestions kindly. Train the leaders through personal contact, placing a booklet in their hands about their position. Invite them to visit another church to evaluate how that church caries on that particular ministry.
Too many young preachers have acted as know-it-all, offended church members and destroyed the possibilities of a well-organized church.
Young preacher, you want to leave the church in better shape than when you arrived on the scene. Everything you organize should be for the benefit of the next pastor. Or maybe you plan to stay 30 years! That is an even better reason to organize the ministry to operate efficiently.
About the Writer: Dennis Wiggs retired in 2004 after many years in ministry.
Adapted from Contact magazine, March 1997.