Ministry Outreach

Say Goodbye to the 'Armor Bearer' Mentality

armor-bearer-bondageMy friend Charles wanted a mentor. He was eager to learn the ropes of ministry, so he asked an older pastor for training. The pastor agreed—but Charles soon realized the man wanted a valet, not an apprentice. Charles became the man’s “armor bearer.”

The man never took Charles on hospital visits, involved him in ministry assignments or prayed with him. Instead, Charles was expected to carry the pastor’s briefcase, fetch coffee and take suits to the cleaners—with no salary offered. In this case, “armor bearer” was a spiritualized term for “slave.”

This bizarre trend became popular in churches 20 years ago, but it still thrives. It appeals to insecure leaders who need an entourage to make them feel important. Some pastors have even assigned trainees to serve as bodyguards—complete with dark glasses and concealed weapons. These young men are instructed to keep people away from the pastor so he doesn’t have to talk to anyone after a church service (because, after all, the poor preacher might be “drained of his anointing” if he fraternizes with common folks).

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It's Your Fight, Too

d-MinOut-MissionsWhat every church can do about human sex trafficking—now

Can I be blunt and say that I’m sick and tired of churches and ministries that are committed to “raising awareness” about sex trafficking?

We’re living in a time in which the world has more modern-day slaves than ever before. The United Nations crime-fighting office estimates that at any given time, 2.4 million people are being trafficked—and of those, half are children. Nearly 80 percent of those 2.4 million are being exploited as sexual slaves.

Although it’s difficult to cite an exact figure, we know that no country is providing more girls per capita than Moldova, where I’ve worked for more than 20 years. Right now, 450,000 women and girls have simply and mysteriously vanished from the tiny country—more than 12 percent of the nation’s total population!

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God Loves a Willing Servant

d-MinOut-EvangelismTaking the first step in leading others to share their faith

Willing men inspire fear.

The one thing Satan fears more than any other is a man of God who’s willing to say two little words each day: “Use me.” As leaders, we especially grab the enemy’s attention when God burdens us to begin inviting others to explore a relationship with Christ. Satan will stop at nothing to keep us from fusing these two little words in our prayers; he knows he needs to keep them separate in leaders’ lives. Using something else is much better, he’ll say to us—people, substances, credit cards, false motivations, feelings. Using these things now is optimal.

If the enemy can make us a dedicated user, distracting our lives and minds with other things, he knows we won’t be available for God to use us. So go on, he says, use, abuse and blow a fuse! Satan would love to decommission you, dishonorably discharge you and destroy your availability to lead and be used by God.

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Tracking With Jesus' Mission

MinOut-MetricsA friend of mine who pastors a church of 120 people in a town of 1,000 recently told me about a strange encounter he had with a megachurch pastor in another area about what constitutes a megachurch. The megachurch pastor led a church of 10,000 in a town of 600,000 and told my friend that if your church was reaching at least 1 percent of the population of your town, then you were leading a megachurch.

His assertion made my friend wonder if this was really true or was it just faulty logic. He asked this pastor how he would classify a church that was reaching 12 percent of the town’s population. The pastor was stunned.

“Who is doing that?” he asked.

“Our church is consistently running 120 people in a small town of 1,000!” my friend responded. To which the megachurch pastor quickly replied, “Yes, but that’s a different model .”

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Is Yours a Welcoming Church?

shaking-hands-church-welcomeTwo years ago I moved to southern New Hampshire with my family. Prior to that, we had been involved deeply in a church plant for almost a decade—serving in leadership, developing marketing tools, and loving the people in that community like family.

Losing that family was hard; trying to find a new church home was even harder. For more than two years, I visited approximately 20 churches within a half hour from my new home. These churches ranged from tiny (40 people) to huge (more than 3,000). They were evangelical, mainline, charismatic, denominational and independent. I heard hard rock gospel music, traditional hymns set to organ music and everything in between.

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Tracking With Jesus Mission

MinOut-MetricsHow to calculate your church’s true missional impact

A friend of mine who pastors a church of 120 people in a town of 1,000 recently told me about a strange encounter he had with a megachurch pastor in another area about what constitutes a megachurch. The megachurch pastor led a church of 10,000 in a town of 600,000 and told my friend that if your church was reaching at least 1 percent of the population of your town, then you were leading a megachurch.

His assertion made my friend wonder if this was really true or was it just faulty logic. He asked this pastor how he would classify a church that was reaching 12 percent of the town’s population. The pastor was stunned.

“Who is doing that?” he asked.

“Our church is consistently running 120 people in a small town of 1,000!” my friend responded. To which the megachurch pastor quickly replied, “Yes, but that’s a different model .”

Beyond Raw Numbers

In some ways, the megachurch pastor was right. Few people would argue that pastoring 120 people is different from pastoring 12,000 people. And we’d all say that leading a church in a fast-growing suburb is significantly different from leading one in a rural community or complex downtown urban setting. So in some ways comparing the two ministry contexts is apples and oranges. They are different.

But in other ways the megachurch pastor was dead wrong. From the perspective of the people reached and actual community impact, reaching 12 percent of a small town offers a much greater result then reaching 1 percent of a larger city, regardless of the raw numbers’ magnitude. 

This “percentage of impact” number might be a strategic and effective tool to help us equalize our understanding of the missional impact of a church and get away from what I think is a shortsighted idea that the only factor that really matters is how many people gather in one place at one time.

Kingdom Measurements

The “percentage of impact” number is simply the number of people attending the church compared to the number of people in the local community. When you consider this formula, a church of 120 is a significant force in a small community of 1,000. I won’t argue with the idea that a church of 12,000 is certainly impressive. But it’s much less of a force in a community of 600,000. To be equal in percentage of impact to the church of 120 in a town of 1,000, the megachurch would need to be a church of 72,000 attendees.

Right or wrong, the perception in the American church world is that, when everything is said and done, the more people you have listening to you each Sunday/weekend, the greater leader you are. This idea that quantity is always better is an American idea, not a kingdom idea. America is a great nation, but American values don’t always synch up well with kingdom values. 

Kingdom is about impact, and in the kingdom, your percentage of impact number means more than how many you have in the room at the weekly worship gathering.

Other kingdom measurements that apply regardless of the size of the gathering are metrics such as: 

  • Ratio of baptism to attendees.
  • Ratio of leaders being developed to attendees.
  • Ratio of weekly conversations with lost people per member, etc.

These metrics actually tell you something about how well your church is tracking with the mission of Jesus to seek and save the lost.

When you set out to plant a new church or you’re leading an existing one, make sure you measure the things that matter. If you focus on actions and activities that increase your missional impact, you won’t have to worry about how many people show up to hear you speak. The crowd will increase as you stay focused on the mission of Jesus.


Steve Pike serves as national director for the Church Multiplication Network, which collaborates with church multipliers to effectively equip, strategically fund and innovatively network new faith communities in America. Follow him on Twitter @StevenPike.  

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