December 10, 2009 Tony Morgan

Stop Doing Ministry

I’m guessing you’re familiar with the story from Acts 6 where the widows in the church were not getting fed. That’s a bad situation. I know how grumpy I get when I’m hungry. I can’t imagine how grumpy a group of hungry, older women can be. That can’t be good.

The grumpy, old women weren’t getting fed because the apostles weren’t getting the job done. These leaders were supposed to be focusing on prayer and teaching God’s Word (see Acts 6:4), but instead they were stuck trying to pull off a not very effective food distribution effort.

So who’s at fault? It could be the people in the church who are just showing up for services on Sunday morning but not engaging in ministry. Maybe they haven’t studied the Bible enough to learn that it’s not biblical to pay pastors to do all the ministry of the church.

It could be the fault of the leaders. Maybe they’ve fallen into the “I can do it better” trap. Maybe they aren’t really leaders, so they aren’t spiritually gifted to empower other people in ministry.

Either way, here’s what strikes me about this passage in Acts. The apostles were engaged in ministry. In that day, food distribution was just as much a part of the ministry of the church as praying and teaching. They were doing ministry; they just weren’t doing the right ministry. In other words…

It’s possible to do the work of God without doing the work God has called you to do.

That should be alarming for us. Because as the church grows, it requires us to prayerfully consider questions like this:

  • Am I encouraging people to serve in ministry?
  • Am I helping people determine their gifts?
  • Am I empowering new leaders?
  • Am I a leader, or am I just in a leadership position?
  • Am I doing what God designed me to do?

Fortunately, the apostles decided to empower seven other leaders to take responsibility for the food distribution. That allowed the apostles to get back to focusing on prayer and the teaching of God’s Word. I guess you could say they stopped doing ministry, and encouraged others to do it instead. As a result of that, “God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too,” (Act 6:7).

People pay me to figure this out for them, but let me share this advice for free. If you’re doing all the ministry, you’re probably going to lead a small, ineffective ministry that’s not consistent with God’s plan for your life. So what are you going to do? Are you going to continue to do the work of God, or…

Are you going to do the work God called you to do?

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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