Monday, June 29, 2009


There are three questions that help us understand who the ministers are, and where the ministry happens. The three questions are:

1. What is the church? Answer: People. It is not a building, a program, or an institution, it is a people. It is the ekklesia - the "called out ones." Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, He is in the midst. It doesn't get more "church" than that!

2. Who are the ministers? Answer: People. The people are the ministers; the pastor is the ad-minister. Every person whom God has called, has been called for a purpose. There are good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do. Pastors are given to the church to prepare the saints for the work of ministry.

3. Where does the ministry happen? Answer: Wherever the people are. If the people are the church, and the people are the ministers, then wherever the people are is where the ministry happens. This theo-logical extension of questions 1. and 2. means that the ministry might happen in an office, a neighborhood, a restaurant, a home, a car, or wherever the body of Christ (regenerated people) are present.

The atomized church carries the greatest possibilities for transforming the spiritual landscape. In fact, the potential is staggering. A church of 100 people can either conduct a) a few centralized ministries (for example, a weeknight children's program "at" the "church"), b) a dozen decentralized ministries (for example, small groups), or c)....if everyone is clear that they are a minister....a hundred atomized personal ministries. The personal ministries will be as varied as the people who carry them out. We will no longer go to church. We will be the church.

Thus far, CTK represents the evolution of a) to b)....from centralized, attractional ministry to decentralized, relational, ministry. We have chosen small groups to be the point of emphasis instead of the Sunday service. We have said, "Every person needs to be in a small group, because every person in a small group has a ministry, and that is to every other person in the group." This is progress. The shift has helped us to break from three restrictive and limited ideas; 1) that the pastor is the minister, 2) that the church building is the place of ministry, and 3) that Sunday morning is the time for ministry. By convening groups of 2-10 people in homes and restaurants for friendship, growth, encouragement and outreach we have moved away from pastor-centrality, facility-centrality and Sunday-centrality. We have shifted from primary care (by a professional) to mutual care (by one another). In the process we have shifted our mentality about the weekend service, to be a convention of cells rather than congregation. Instead of trying to attract followers, we have been attempting to attract leaders. Our pastors have moved from working in the ministry to working on the ministry, in support of small group leaders.

The next step in our evolution is from b) to c), from a decentralized to atomized ministry. The small group has proven to be a great training ground for people to be the ministers. The danger, frankly, if we stay at b) is that the small group will become the new, albeit smaller, fortress, and that once again the arrows will turn in. The small group could become the new "place" where ministry happens. The small group leader will become the new "minister." Wednesday night (or Tuesday or Thursday) will be the new time. Instead of going to the people, we will ask the people to come to us, only now instead of asking people to come "to church" we will be asking them to come "to group." While we like the idea of them coming through the "side door" (group) better than the "front door" (weekend service) we like even better the idea of us going out through those doors and going to them.

No comments: