Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

Ephesians 4:8-13 MSG

There are four distinct lanes in the body of the church, but we often have difficulty figuring out which lane belongs to who.  And because of this difficulty, we are not “moving rhythmically and easily with each other” nor are we “efficient and graceful” in our ministries.  All of this often leads to frustration and ultimately lack of the Kingdom impact we are called to provide for our community.

The four lanes of the church body are ministry, management, leadership, and governance.  In his book, Winning on Purpose, John Edmund Kaiser uses a football metaphor to describes these lanes or roles.  The ministry role is the team players.  The management role is the specialists or assistant coaches.  The lead/senior pastor is the head coach, quarter back, or team captain.  The leadership board is the umpire, scorekeeper, and cheerleaders.  In order for the football team to function well and have a winning season, each of these roles is vital and essential.  Without any one of them, the team would struggle.  Clearly, the majority of the people are involved as a player.  The rest of the people are in supporting roles.

In theory most everyone would agree with this model.  But, in practice churches struggle to implement this model.  Most often, the majority of the congregation is involved in management leaving too few of people in ministry (too few team players).  In addition, we have few, if any, who function in the governance role.  Often our boards/councils tend to manage rather than govern.  The result is that we don’t have enough team players to play the game (people engaged in ministry to disciple new and existing people), too many assistant coaches and special team players (too many people in administration and managing day to day operations), and no one keeping score, calling the plays, or paying attention to the regulations (no one tending to governance, strategy, fiduciary, missional fulfillment, Kingdom impact).

At some point (most likely because of its structure), the church prioritized and placed the highest value in serving on administrative committees.  Therefore, people (and especially leaders) were pointed in the direction of serving on those committees.  As a result, it seemingly appeared that serving on ministry teams was perhaps less important or less valuable.  Consequently, the church became very administratively heavy and sparse on disciples serving in the most important area of the church and the area that has the most Kingdom impact potential – the ministries.  There is no disciple-making that happens in administrative meetings!  I have worked with churches that have 100 in worship attendance and more than 60 people are tied up in administrative committees of the church!

How about your church?  What percentage of your church has been released and equipped for ministry?  Do you have a simplified governance model with nine people leading with a missional focus using accountable leadership?  Has the pastor been given the responsibility and authority to lead and held accountable to do so?  Are the ministry team leaders held accountable for impact-focused ministries?  Does everyone know their lane and stay in their lane so that the church is efficient, moving rhythmically and easily together as fully mature disciples of Christ?  Lord, let it be so!

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