Today’ post reviews Zac Veron’ ideas about tactical issues facing church leaders from his book Leadership on the Front Foot.
1. TRAIN THE LAY PEOPLE FOR YOUR MINISTRY
Zac’ first tactical principle is to train lay people for their ministry. The corresponding error he cites is to be a pastoral control freak (my words, not his)!
Zac reckons that not allowing ministry to occur unless the minister has a finger in the pie will generally condemn churches in Australia to remaining under 100 in size. He applauds the trend towards team ministry.
But he insists we should not just professionalize ministry, but be countercultural in calling, training and unleashing busy lay people for ministry.
I’m convinced. But I reckon Zac should have told us more about how to delegate well. This is where I would like him to follow his advice for preachers earlier and give me the three tips or four steps because, as his application guide says, delegation is a hard principle to teach!
Thankfully Matthias Media have produced a book by Col Marshall and Tony Payne called The Trellis and the Vine, which will help pastors in this whole area of training and multiplying ministry (although I don’t know if it has the three tips on delegation either).
2. TRAIN THE LAY LEADERS IN BEING EFFECTIVE LEADERS
The next tactical principle is to train the lay elders in being effective leaders. Once again, I cannot argue with the training mindset, nor with his example of the church treasurer who had never prepared a budget (but was willing to learn).
But what is really strange about this chapter is that it users the term ‘elders’, but talks only of financial and property administration and nothing of what the Bible says an elder’ job is (i.e. shared congregational oversight in faithfulness to God’ word). Zac would have done better to refer simply to deacons and parish councilors, or generic ‘administrative leaders’, rather than elders, which is a misnomer in this context.
This is one of the shortest of all the chapters (it was less than two pages), and the hard work is left to the application guide here, which speaks of the need for the 4Cs (which is familiar to those involved with MTS): conviction, character, commitment and competency.
I was particularly helped by the observation by application guide author Ken Noakes that a fifth C was needed: capacity. He distinguishes between competency to carry out a role and capacity to do so (e.g. from possessing self-discipline, time availability and management, etc.)
3. INTRODUCE ELECTRONIC GIVING
Zac returns to the topic of money with his next tactic: introduce electronic giving. He is right that electronic funds transfer has been a great boon for church finances, encouraging thoughtful planning and regularity in giving, and that electronic giving is all the more important as we move closer towards a cashless society.
Sometimes I suspect promoting this practical method of giving has explained the increase in church budgets (as observed in my part of the world) more than all our great preaching! Better still, I think we have also got more confident teaching about money at the same time, so it’ practice and theology working together.
Zac urges churches to phase out passing the plate, and says it’ a mistake to continue. But actually a careful read shows that he wisely kept the plate at the early morning congregation, whose members are less computer-savvy. And he also provides an offertory box at the rear of the building for those who still like to use cash.
I admit that I was willing to give up on implementing this change at one church I led; the resistance was high. But Zac’ reasoning—both practical and theological—challenged me to think again about whether we should introduce this at some of our congregations here.
4. GET INVOLVED IN A MINISTRY OUTSIDE YOUR OWN CHURCH
The last tactical principle is to get involved in a ministry outside your own church. Amen, Zac! The bloke who trained me gave me this rule of thumb—namely, that you should serve on one broader ministry or committee for your own denomination (e.g. a denominational school board or regional committee) and one that’ inter-denominational (e.g. a Scripture Union Family Mission or a Katoomba Convention Committee). Some can do more than this; few should do less.
Ministers who, by their frontline enthusiasm, won’t do any denominational work are spending all the denominational dividends without reinvesting any capital. Furthermore, they leave the resources built up by evangelicals available for take over by liberals.
In my next post, we move onto strategic issues.