A Big Reason Why People Leave a Church.
When you think of reasons people give for not staying with a church, you may think of things like ‘not being fed’ (something you hear from person leaving, not the pastor, of course), disagreement over doctrinal issues, not liking changes being made, a desire to return to the world, or a church with more appealing programs elsewhere.
But I also believe a big reason many people leave churches is because a lot of churches make little room for them to use their gifts. I spoke with a couple who had been shut out of ministry opportunities at one church. The husband had been allowed to prophesy in church, but the pastoral staff shut that down when other people wanted to prophesy, too. They were going to do a couples ministry, but then it was given to a new couple in the church, and they couldn’t find an outlet to minister.
I Peter 4 COMMANDS believers to use their spiritual gifts to minister to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Romans 12 commands the one gifted with prophecy to prophesy according to the proportion of faith. It commands the one gifted to teach, to teach. It commands the one gifted to exhort, to exhort.
I Corinthians 12 lists spiritual gifts that the Spirit gifts believers with. If we read on to chapter 14, we discover that spiritual gifts are to be used in the meetings of the church to edify the body of Christ.
I Corinthians 14 26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
The passage continues on to give specific instructions for someone who wants to speak in tongues in church, for an interpreter of tongues, for prophets and all of ‘ye’ who would prophesy. Paul says that what he wrote were commandments of the Lord.
Jesus was successful at His mission. He healed, He preached, He died for our sins and rose again. But there is something else He did. He trained other men to preach, to teach and to lead.
Paul is known as a great man of faith, and we see him as a model of ministry in the New Testament. But he was not only successful because he preached, spread the Gospel, and planted churches. He also trained other men to preach the Gospel. Two of the best-known are Timothy and Titus, but several other men are mentioned in Acts and the epistles, and he also taught and appointed elders in various cities.
How many local church elders, men in pastoral ministry, seeing training, equipping, and encouraging those who are gifted and called to ministry as part of a measure of their success? Some men are scared to give up pulpit time, to let someone else teach or lead, fearing other men aren’t as trustworthy as themselves, or might detract attention from themselves, or my draw other men away from themselves. But shouldn’t local church leadership encourage all saints to be OBEDIENT to the commands to be faithful with their gifts, as part of their pastoral ministry? And shouldn’t they see training up others to do what they do as part of their own ministry?
Consider the 2-2-2 method.
2 Timothy 2:2
2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.