5 Truths About Empowering People to Change the World

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People are not a means for getting ministry done.

In the Bourne series, the assassins (who are the central characters) are referred to by their controlling agency merely as “assets.” Sometimes I fear that within Christian ministry, we fall into the terrible habit of treating people as assets — instruments to help us get ministry done successfully rather than people with souls.

One of the values I remind myself of often is that people are not a means for getting ministry done.

People are the ministry.

And those who volunteer are not placed in our path to make us successful, but so that we can help them to grow and to move forward.

To keep ourselves from the edge of the slippery slope of using people to get ministry done, it’s important to remember some hard, unchanging truths …

1. Ministry is about relationships, not results.

If we think like much of the surrounding corporate world, as much of the western church does, then we see goals and figures without seeing people. I’m all for looking at numbers to celebrate and evaluate, but never for the purpose of determining who is and isn’t useful to the kingdom.

It isn’t about what a volunteer or staff member can produce in the way of results for us. It’s about what kind of growth we can help to produce in that leader. Growing leaders typically have growing ministries, but numerical success is the byproduct of healthy relationships.

2. People are souls, with or without roles.

If we ever leave someone in a role because of their talent while their personal life is falling apart, we’ve failed. As leaders and shepherds, it is our calling to create healing and health deep within the souls of people.

So when people walk into the room, our first question shouldn’t be are you ready to get to work? It should rather be something like how’s life going? How’s your soul doing?

3. Jesus modeled people empowerment perfectly.

Jesus wept over people, prayed over people and eventually died for people. He gave up His time and His comfort to serve others. And He accepted the rejection, criticism and abandonment that He would receive from His people, even knowing full well that it was coming.

Then, at the end of His earthly story, He released His people to go change everything with the gospel. If you want to know how to empower people, start by looking at Jesus.

Brandon Cox Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.

More from Brandon Cox or visit Brandon at http://brandonacox.com/

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  • Tammy

    I agree & disagree.

    There is such a thing as readiness & suitability. i’ve witnessed chaos (& i really mean that) happening in the church because nobody wants to reject someone. Yes, everyone can serve but there has got to be mentoring for the people before we put them in certain places. What about ppl who serve out of an obligation & is extremely unreliable?

    God is also a God of order. Some ppl just can’t be in certain places unless they are ready. A few things can be done in fostering an environment that cares & helps the person develop but too many times when leaders say what you said, they simply shirk all responsibility too quickly without doing anything much & in the end, a sunday service is disrupted week after week. Unless you are saying that it doesn’t matter, then I rest my case.

  • cie

    Discipleship is key to bringing others into the church family. Jesus taught and prepared the chosen 12 to go out and spread the good news.There are instances when over zealousness creeps in and the person gets bigger than the task. Whether intentionally or unintentionally one must remove themselves out of the way to empower others. We should practice keeping our eyes on the prize when leading others. The end result of our success will manifest in the hearts of others.


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He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? —Romans 8:32