Letting the Laymen Work

H.B. London During my 31 years of pastoral ministry, my congregations profited greatly and worked most effectively when dedicated laymen took ownership of projects and outreaches.

The memories flood back to me. I recall weary, downtrodden people filing into our Helping Hands pantry to be met by smiling laymen. Many a night I would sit in the bleachers at our church gymnasium and watch busy men and women coaching basketball for someone else's child. Then there were others who were passionate about the sanctity of life. At times when the abortion issue was an unpopular subject, they would hold meetings, march for life, pray outside Planned Parenthood buildings and put their arms of love around young ladies who had been through abortions.

As a pastor, I had very little to do with the success of these endeavors. I supported their efforts, but I challenged these creative men and women to own their passions. When congregants would approach me with a reasonable request for a worthy cause, I would look them in the eye and ask, "Do you feel so strongly about this cause that you would be willing to take responsibility for it?" If they said yes and I felt they were qualified, I would appoint them to the task, giving them freedom to use their gifts and permission to succeed or fail.

I realize there are risks associated with delegating authority, but pastors cannot fulfill every ministry need. If a laymen's instincts are in line with the purpose and mission of your local church, then let them be the ministers.

Some of you might have buried dreams that may never come to pass unless you liberate someone in your congregation to dream with you. I once heard the statement "For God so loved the world that He didn't form a committee." Sometimes we just need to let God ignite a passion in others and watch them shine for His glory.

Taken from Focus on the Family magazine, April, 2008.
Article copyright © 2008, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission

Dr. H.B. London is the vice president of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family and the author of numerous books on and for pastors. He served as a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years in several churches in Oregon and California. He and his wife, Beverley, live primarily in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have two sons and four grandchildren.