Often we talk about about growing a ministry, this equates a ministry with a thing… a large church or program is considered a ministry. However, I’d like to suggest that we focus on the human aspect — the ministry result that happens to a person. Ministry does not actually happen unless someone is actually touched or changed as a result of what you are doing. This is what we want to cultivate. We don’t want to grow a ministry, we want to grow ministry. We want the amount of ministry that happens in our church to increase exponentially regardless of what is going on with headcount.
Let’s look at the encounter with the woman at the well as a model for ministry activity:
- Jesus met the woman at the well and he ministered to her.
- Her life was changed.
- She ministered to other people (the whole town) through her testimony
- The ministry team (Jesus and the disciples) followed up on all of the people that she touched, and touched some more.
One person received a real touch from God and it changed the town. These kinds of “follow on” ministry situations happen repeatedly in the Bible, and I think that is one of the golden keys we’re missing.
Most ministry is like scattering seed. It just goes everywhere — rocky ground, the path, the thorns, and the soil. And there is nothing wrong with scatter shot activities. You need them. Jesus, John the Baptist and the disciples performed a lot of that. But you have to go beyond that. We scatter seed, and scatter it, and hope something grows on its own. Then when we aren’t seeing enough growth we start a program and try to get people into it. The initiative for the program is is not coming from the people, it’s coming from us.
Ministry means service, service is meeting the needs of the people. If you want to grow ministry, meet the needs of the people. The context does not matter, small or large the goal is to touch individuals. Jesus ministered to the woman at the well. The dynamic transforming power of God was now inside of her. She’s excited. What do you do now that you’ve got someone who has received ministry? Here are some common scenarios:
- I’ve been in some churches where someone who receives a touch from God like this becomes a “problem” for the pastors and they will ignore this person or something similar. This can be extremely hurtful to the person God has touched. Jesus was surrounded by throngs. What did he do anytime someone pulled on Him? Did he say “this is not a hospital church” or call for the ushers? No! He met their need. That’s because the pull from the person (faith) is what makes the ministry happen. You’re foolish if you turn people away, you are thwarting your own ministry.
- Nothing. She just gets the ministry, tells somebody, they acknowledge how great it is, and that’s the end of it.
- She would get farmed into a group or possibly connected with someone. Now this is a much better result, depending on how it works, real change can happen.
- She performs “follow on” ministry. This is the ideal. When someone is touched, there is holy fire within them. There is grace to touch someone else. “Freely you have received, freely give” Testimonies are the most basic ways of doing this. If its someone more mature, the follow on may be a teaching. Perhaps if they got healed, they start praying for others healing. The “ministry” they receive becomes the ministry that they give back to everyone — including the person who gave it to them in the first place!
We’ve spread the fire by letting the person who received do some giving, but we’re still not done. The Bible says that Jesus and the disciples went down to the city and stayed for two days and ministered to more people. They followed up on the result of her ministry! We follow up with a person who is touched, we give them a chance to minister to others, and then we follow up on the results of that, which as you can imagine leads to a cycle. More people are touched, more people minister, etc. This is what I’m talking about in “growing ministry.”
- It begins with a “pull” from someone. A hungry person came to you or you scattered seed to one or to a thousand, and someone was stirred.
- You feed them.
- They are changed.
- They feed others.
- You begin again with the people they touched.
What you are now doing is cultivating the life of God among His body. Instead of setting up pyramids where one person takes initiative and everyone else is farmed in, which is what natural man always does, we are cultivating the “vine,” the life of God among our people. Every fire starts with a small spark. We can’t figure out why no fire is starting. It’s because we’re not fanning the sparks into flame. We let them go out, and then strike another match. You get enough sparks, and there starts to be a fire. The more lives change, the more people believe that lives can change. That’s more faith. More faith means more miracles. So it’s not as much about “vision” and ministry direction, and all of those things. It’s about fanning and chasing the fire of the Holy Spirit among the people (including yourself). When it gets hot, you can even burn dead wood in there.