I believe it was Jethro who came up with the concept of doing team-based ministry first. You remember the unwise, all-too-familiar scene unfolding in Exodus 18 don’t you? Moses, with admirable motives and the greatest of intentions, was wearing himself out – working morning ‘til evening and frustrating all of the people he tried to serve. How would you like that combination in ministry – weary and ineffective. Not fun. Oh yeah, add a healthy dollop of complaining from the people you minister to and a dash of discouragement and I think you get Moses’ state of mind. Maybe you can relate.
The problem wasn’t with Moses per se, but rather his approach to ministry. He valiantly tried to do everything himself. Jethro mercifully saw the leadership log jam and lovingly declared, “what you’re doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (Ex 18:17-18). Jethro said – Moses, bro, you need to build a team. Jethro then shares with Moses how to do so.
The benefits? How about sharing the burden, becoming more effective, facilitating ministry longevity and having a satisfied, peaceful people. I’m up for that. How about you? Here is how to do it.
3 TIPS FOR CULTIVATING A HEALTHY, FRUITFUL TEAM-BASED MINISTRY
Tip #1: LOOK
Jethro told Moses first to “look for able men from all the people.” The verb tense here suggests an ongoing action, so Jethro encouraged Moses to keep on looking for able men to aid, assist, co-lead, and share the ministry load with him. Not just anyone, but God-fearing, honest, and trustworthy people. They’re out there! Really they are.
I encourage ministry leaders to spend at least ten percent of their time scanning the Sunday morning crowd, setting up meetings throughout the week, and recruiting people to serve and use their gifts. I ask all my leaders to find, build, and deploy a team underneath them so multiplication preparation happens at every level. This is how a church gets healthy – by getting the majority of people in the church serving and using their spiritual gifts. But it all begins with leaders constantly looking for others to join their ministry team.
Tip #2: LET
Next, Jethro shares another aspect of growing healthy teams. He said, “And let them judge the peoples at all times” (Ex 18:22). This part is so obvious that it is easy to miss. Jethro encouraged Moses to actually LET them judge – the very ministry he was called to do. Jethro said, “Moses, when you find the able, honest, God-fearing, and trustworthy men in your church – let them minister!”
Give them the opportunity to grow and develop as leaders. Let them preach, lead a life group, teach a class, spearhead a missions trip, or disciple a new believer. We have to recruit people to our team then release them to minister! Will they stumble and fail sometimes? Yes, they will. Will they do it exactly like you do? No, probably not. But if we’re to have a healthy, team-based, fruitful ministry we must let people have opportunity to explore, utilize, and develop their God-given gifts and talents.
Tip #3: LEAD
Last, the text says, “So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said.” He implemented the look and let and in so doing, he led the people. He led them to understand what they were to do, how they were to do it, and when they should kick matters up to him. Implied in the text is a very present, involved leader who is relationally connected to his ministry teammates.
Leaders must lead their leaders. Does it take time? Yep. Is it worth your time? Yep. Why? Here are two reasons. First, leaders who feel poured into, supported, and led often multiply and flourish the most. They’re more fruitful in ministry. Second, a team that is led is a team that will eventually lead. Why? Because healthy, effective leadership has been modeled for them. And that is our goal. We want our leaders to multiply and to keep the leadership pipeline flowing and growing.
Ministry leaders are called to an ever-present task of recruiting, training, deploying, and supporting the leaders on their team. Let me encourage you to look, to let, and to lead. When you do your ministry will flourish, the people will be satisfied, and you will be able to bear up under the load of ministry.
Press on in your efforts to advance the kingdom by leading healthy teams. I think Jethro would approve.
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- 3 Tips For Cultivating a Healthy, Fruitful Team-Based Ministry - August 25, 2019