Using What God Has Already Provided
By Matt Craig
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. - Psalm 23:1(NLT)
Like me, you’ve probably explained, and preached these opening words of Psalm 23 many times. They're read and spoken at the side of the hospital bed, from the pulpit, at the graveside, and even sung in some circles. But do we really believe these words? I've lost count of the times I've heard myself and other leaders complain that we don't have enough leaders, volunteers or money. I've come to the conclusion that the problem is me [no big surprise]. It's not that God hasn't provided; it's that I have failed to see or utilize the resources that he has placed right under my nose.
In just four years our local church has been through some really tough times, a family tragedy that involved the death of an 8yr old girl and a fire that left our building unusable for three months. No one saw these things coming and we certainly didn't feel that we had what we needed to tackle such big issues. Yet God has used crisis to open my eyes to his provision.
Because these issues were so big and I felt so inadequately equipped to deal with them, I did some things that I now realize leaders need to do all the time. They seem obvious, they are not new, but because they are time-consuming, they are often done poorly or skipped altogether. Yet, I believe we can be more effective in discovering and utilizing what God has already provided if we slow down do these things really well.
Take time to study, pray and consult with other leaders. "Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." - Proverbs 15:22(NIV84) Instead of putting the pressure on myself to come up with a good solution, I'm learning that the best leaders are the ones who facilitate a search for God's solution. There is a powerful dynamic when a group of leaders (even a very small group) come together with open minds and hearts to pray and search God's word for principles to guide them through their situation. This may seem to slow things down but in the end you will have a much deeper response and a greater commitment from your leaders than any quick fix could bring.
Take time to learn how God has equipped the members of your church. God provides for his church by his Spirit through his people (Eph 4:1-13, 1Cor 12). Henry Blackaby says it this way, "...God has the assignment for each church. So He adds members who help the body fulfill its assignment and places each member in the body by His design for maximum efficiency."1 What if God has sent to our churches exactly the kind of people needed to accomplish the specific piece of the mission he's entrusted to us?
As I begin to learn about how God has equipped the people in my church, I'm beginning to see new possibilities that I hadn't considered before. Instead of choosing programs and plugging people into them we're beginning to see ministry plans and projects emerging out of the gifts and talents our people have already been given.
Take time to develop leaders and entrust ministry to others. If you're anything like me you want to jump in and get things done rather than wait for others. Training others and giving aspects of ministry over to them is a slow and messy process. Most pastors have a lot on their plate and training up other leaders tends to get pushed down near the bottom of the list. Yet passages of scripture like Eph 4:4-13, 2Tim 2:2 make leadership development a priority for church leaders.
The Apostles and early church leaders received apprenticeship-style training that produced highly effective leaders. Our church had to reach “situation critical” before we paid much attention to this. We're still learning how to do it well but if our church is going to make disciples and participate in the mission, developing leaders is a priority. We're beginning to see that a pastor, instead of doing the ministry, needs to be more focused on equipping and involving others in ministry. Admittedly a difficult shift, but something we're working through as God helps access what he has graciously provided.
1. Henry Blackaby & Melvin Blackaby, Experiencing God Together, Holman Publishers, Nashville 2002. p113
Matt Craig is the Lead Pastor at Don Valley Bible Chapel. He is a graduate of Tyndale University and has over 12 years of ministry experience. Matt is currently pursuing a Masters of Ministry with the Antioch School of Church Planting. He is married to Sue Craig and has two children, Charlotte and Joel.www.dvbc.com http://pastormattcraig.blogspot.com/
Pray for VMC Leaders As They Go to Burundi and Kenya
Please pray for Doug Loveday, Brian Larmour, Chris Atkinson, Paul Fletcher, and Gord Martin as they prepare to go to Burundi from July 12-24. They will teaching on theological topics as well as providing leadership training and practical tips for ministry to between 200–250 Burundian church leaders during a one-week teaching intensive. On the weekends they will be preaching in churches.
Brian Larmour and Gord Martin will continue on to Kenya to assist with the work of Vision Ministries Kenya from July 24 to 30.
Pray that God would use these men to encourage and equip leaders in Burundi and Kenya. Also ask God to help them learn from their African brothers and to consider future two-way partnerships with them.
If you would like to donate towards the costs of the Burundi/Kenya trip please give here.