Every Pastor Has 3 ‘Realms’ of Ministry

Rick Warren: “The kingdom benefits and churches grow when we’re sharpening each other.”

Healthy, growing churches are outwardly focused, always thinking about how to communicate the gospel to a lost culture and bring the next unchurched person into a thriving relationship with God. In the same way, a healthy church staff thinks about more than just how to accomplish the next team project. Great church leaders are kingdom thinkers with a global vision for God’s glory.

Since the earliest days of Saddleback Church, I’ve challenged every staff member to think about his or her role in at least three “realms.”

First, you have a ministry to the unchurched.

You may have a role in church leadership related to kids ministry volunteers, creating graphics and videos or expanding the church’s small groups ministry, but your first ministry is always to those who are lost and far from God. Every church leader needs to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5) and share the good news about Jesus with his or her friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

As a matter of fact, the reason we strive to balance the five purposes and make more disciples is ultimately so that more disciples can be made. Every facet of church ministry fits together to create a healthy body that grows and reaches new, disconnected people. Whatever else you may do as part of a church’s ministry team, you have a ministry to those who don’t know Jesus yet.

Second, you have the ministry for which you were shaped and called.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” This verse applies to anyone, working any kind of a job. Whatever you do in life, do it for God’s glory as though he is your boss (because he is!). At Saddleback, we tend to hire workaholics and then force them to calm down. We hire racehorses. Don’t ever expect the people around you to carry the burden of motivating you to do the work of the ministry that God has assigned you.

If you can’t seem to get motivated, it could be that your relationship with Jesus has suffered, you aren’t in the role you’re really shaped for, or you’re physically or emotionally worn out. If you’re feeling unmotivated, talk to someone about it and get to the bottom of it so you can be sure to serve in your sweet spot—the spot for which you are gifted and called.

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Third, you have a ministry to your peers.

Almost every church recognizes the first two areas of ministry, but some forget about this third realm. If you’re part of a church’s leadership, you have a third area of responsibility—to serve your peers in the kingdom. If you’re a senior pastor, you should be pouring into and drawing strength from other senior pastors. If you’re a church secretary, connect with other church secretaries. The same is true for youth ministry, kids ministry, small group ministry leaders and every other area of church ministry.

Look around and learn from other churches. Share your knowledge and resources with other leaders. The kingdom benefits and churches grow when we’re sharpening each other.

This article was originally published on the Pastors.com blog.

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Rick Warren

Rick Warren, an Outreach magazine consulting editor, is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church and the best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life. He built the Purpose Driven Network, a global alliance of pastors from 162 countries and hundreds of denominations who have been trained to be purpose driven churches. He also founded Pastors.com, an online interactive community that provides sermons, forums and other practical resources for pastors. Rick Warren and his wife Kay are passionate about global missions and what he calls “attacking the five global giants” of poverty, disease, spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership and illiteracy. His solution, The PEACE Plan, is a massive effort to mobilize Christians around the world into an outreach effort to attack these problems by promoting reconciliation, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.