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Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance at the church. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance.
And I’m glad we didn’t.
It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. It’s backwards. Your most critical component to a new ministry isn’t the idea to start it—it’s the leadership of the ministry. Every ministry rises and falls on leadership. Without the right leader, a ministry will just stumble along. It may even do more harm than good. I could tell you some horror stories about poorly-led ministries.
Be patient and trust God’s timing. Don’t try to outrun or outthink Him. The staff at Saddleback never starts new ministries. We may suggest an idea but we let the idea percolate until God provides the right person to lead it.
Don’t push people into ministry either. It’s not about you finding the right person to start your dream ministry. It’s about God raising up the right person. If you push people into ministry spots, you’ll be stuck with a motivation problem for the life of the ministry.
Most small churches get in a hurry and try to do too much. Pray and wait for God to bring you the person best shaped to lead it, then let them start the ministry. If there’s no interest in a particular ministry, don’t worry about it. It is so important for church leaders to have a long-term perspective concerning their church’s development. Solid growth takes time.
Study the book of Acts and you’ll discover that any organization always followed what the Holy Spirit was doing first. Not once in Acts do you find people organizing a ministry and then praying, “Now God please bless our idea.”
God would begin moving in peoples’ hearts, a ministry would spontaneously spring up in a small way, and, as it grew larger, they would add some structure to it.
Follow the model of the early church!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
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