Friday, February 1, 2013

Shift from Professional Ministers to Lay Leadership

This installment is another possible development that I have recently detected but I must remind you that I am not a prognosticator. There are oversized rats that can beat me every year on February 2nd! The almost 3 years in this position as Area Missionary for the North Central region has allowed me to see trends that were not noticeable to me before. This blog is written to describe the patterns I currently see developing and give a heads-up.

Seminaries continue to pump out young, energetic ministers by the thousands while scores of servants in the pew feel a supernatural calling to be in “full-time ministry.” The way leadership will be chosen in the coming years will see a significant change as I see a …

Shift from Professional-Experienced Ministers to Trusted-Layperson Leadership

I don’t expect this idea will find much excitement in ministerial circles, nor do I particularly find this appealing myself since it affects my livelihood and daily occupation. Once the trained, educated, Christian “professional” could simply point to a place on the map, go there, and find a suitable position or outlet for his giftedness and calling. Those days are gone – long gone! Even highly gifted, talented, well-educated leaders are finding ministerial moves exceedingly challenging to say the least. This is an area that I have recent insight and expertise. Rarely does a month go by that I do not speak with an exceptional minister that is struggling to find a place of service. When you consider that I represent over 137 churches, spanning 5 counties in the Metro area, representing 4 Associations, as well as having close relationships with several other Associational Missionaries, placement should be a snap. However, the reverse is the case.

I received in my “inbox” about a month ago a follow up letter from a man outstandingly qualified, desperate for ministry, who has all the “tools” necessary for a successful undertaking, yet he is reminding me that he has not heard from anyone, anywhere for over 8 months. I know he is doing the leg work, sending out resumes, meeting Associational Missionaries, visiting available churches, and getting his name out there. The Bible Belt should be a goldmine, yet all he is getting is the shaft! At the same time, 4 of my larger churches have recruited new staff members, not from stacks of resumes, but from within – from current members that have proven their character, integrity, and have shown giftedness for the needed role, though they have NO FORMAL TRAINING. This is not a surprising trend, as the current economy has accelerated this process. Whenever a church hires a new minister and he proves to be just “good on paper,” this also makes the church leadership feel they can “do better themselves!”

The future “job market” for ministry is going to transition in a way that is unfamiliar to current church-staff models as the trained professional minister is more frequently replaced by the committed layperson member. There are unforeseen variables that could pitch the ship one direction or the other, but the one constant that we must recognize and agree on regardless of how this is played out is this – the church today is not healthy, she is not in any condition to weather out a storm much less proceed in favorable weather. We need Spiritual Renewal, desperately, immediately, and genuinely. Whether she is led by professional, experienced ministers or faithful laypersons from within, her leadership must return to the true Commander-in-Chief, the Anchor of our Faith, the One Who is THE Truth – the Lord Jesus Christ! HE, the Good Shepherd, will fit His under-shepherds suitable for His bride regardless of their education and skill.


  1. It is truethat it is imperative that regardless of who is in charge that each church family must remember and seek the direction of the true head of the family, Jesus.

    This is an interesting perspective to ponder and I can't help but wonder if it is also an outgrowth of Pastors who invest a great deal of teaching and mentoring into their congregations and in essence educate their own leadership. Also, take into account many more of the population in many areas is much more educated (many with advanced degrees by proportion) than in the past. I would think this coupled with church bodies that reach and push their membership to deeper relationships with Christ would produce a new version of "minister."

  2. Great point, Bella Michelle, and I agree that many today have not been satisfied with just a spectator Christianity. Definitely a valid point that helps explain this phenomina. Appreciate your insight!

  3. As a lay minister I'd like to offer a side possibility - the church budget. I accept no stipend of any kind, and have no issue with that whatsoever. Isaiah said, "Here am I, send me." Jesus said, "For the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve..." Many lay ministers, or workers, believe in serving without gain here for the gain of eternity with the Lord. In churches struggling with making budget, their calling to serve is a priceless commodity.

  4. Dan, I have several of my pastors that work completely w/o a salary. It's quite a blessing to see that type of unfettered commitment. Blessings to you for having such a heart. Thanks for commenting!