October 17, 2011
Skye Jethani: Recipe for Church-365 (Part 4)
What if your church gave volunteers, leaders, and money to other churches' ministries- on purpose?
Ingredient Four: Decentralized Service
Over the last few years my travels have been taking me more regularly to Portland, Oregon. Portland is weird, and that’s how they like it. But it’s also inspiring. I’m thinking of Rick McKinley and his church Imago Dei. Rick and the leaders at Imago have done a great job inspiring their people to serve the community in Portland. But when members of the church approach a pastor about starting a new ministry, Rick has trained them to always say the same thing: “No.”
I know, it sounds counter-intuitive, but there is brilliance behind the madness. Leaders at Imago Dei know that in most cases there is another church, agency, or non-profit already engaged in the work. So rather than reinventing the wheel and launching a redundant ministry within Imago, they work to connect their members with other organizations all over Portland. As Rick said, “No logo, no ego.” If our church’s name doesn’t have to be attached, a lot more work gets done. As a result, Imago members have been seeded all over the city and multiplied their influence and impact.
I live in an area blessed with numerous amazing churches with excellent ministries. Why replicate what they’re already doing so well? Rather than starting another men’s ministry, why not connect with what’s going on at College Church? Or the healing prayer ministry at Church of the Resurrection? Or the homeless ministry at the Covenant Church? Or the Hispanic ministry at the Bible Church?
Given the leaner institutional footprint desired by Church365, it makes sense to release people to participate and support these good works at other churches. And why not send our best people and most gifted leaders to bolster these ministries? In fact, because Church365 would likely have less overhead, why not encourage members to give their money to these ministries as well?
Decentralization may not be limited to other churches either. Like Imago Dei in Portland, it would be wonderful to see God’s people serving side-by-side with people outside the church to help the community. Social agencies, schools, and government programs are ideal places for Christians to engage when they sense God’s call.
The simple value of non-redundancy would go a long way to simplifying the church’s structure while simultaneously blessing other churches and the entire community.
Stay tuned for ingredient five of Skye's recipe for Church365