As the Exponential team focused on and developed our 2019 theme, “Made for More: Mobilizing God’s People, God’s Way,” we enlisted a team of leaders to help us identify six paradigm shifts and specific moves based on Ephesians 1–6. We believe these six shifts have the potential to start a multiplication movement today, as we revolutionize how we mobilize people and multiply disciples who multiply disciples and plant churches that plant churches. In this ongoing series, we’re walking through Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, zeroing in on each of these shifts.
Last week, longtime Exponential friend, Pastor and author Rob Wegner unpacked the first shift: From More Effort to More Jesus. This week, he looks at shift 2: From More Volunteers to More Masterpieces, focusing on Ephesians 2.
In his letter to the church of Ephesus, Paul tells us that we are “God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus” and that we have been created to “do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:8–10). The ministry of the church is all the people of God activated in their unique masterpiece mission, revealing the fullness of Jesus. Every disciple is a unique, handcrafted-by-God vessel for expressing the fullness of Jesus.
Do you truly believe that?
If we do, then it’s our responsibility to lead our church to help every disciple investigate their personal calling that mobilizes them for a one-of-a-kind mission for more. If we are going to see every nook and cranny of society filled with the fullness of Jesus, we have to make a shift in how we think about people. It is the multiplication of these masterpiece missions that will create a beautiful mosaic to fill every corner of society.
Quit ‘NAGging Your Church
And that means you quit “nagging” your church—seeing people as a means to an end to make your church’s programs run. At that point, the acronym that best describes our mobilization approach is N.A.G.:
Need … to fill: “I need to fill this slot before Sunday!”
Accost … a member: “I need you to do this for Jesus!”
Guilt … used liberally: “If you don’t, I don’t know what we will do!”
If you think about it, the local church is probably the largest and most effective volunteer force on the planet. What organization mobilizes as many people on a daily basis for service?
If you lined up the next 10 largest organizations that mobilize volunteers, the combined total of all those organizations’ volunteer hours would pale compared to the total number of volunteers and volunteer hours the local church yields each day.
But if we’re honest, the way we’re motivating people reveals that we see people less like God’s masterpiece than more like volunteers we need to recruit to keep everything going.
More Volunteers Versus More Masterpieces
Let’s look at what more volunteers means versus masterpieces (as you read the list, think about how you and your church are mobilizing people):
More volunteers means:
• Ministry equals volunteerism a few hours a month.
• Engaging ministry requires people to join a program of the local church or partner organization.
• Seeing people as a means to an end to run the programs of the church and in so doing, fulfill “the vision” of “the church” that is defined corporately by a few.
More masterpieces means:
• Ministry equals all of life and happens mostly where we live, work, learn and play.
• Engaging ministry requires everyone to be a disciple who makes disciples first; and secondly, it requires disciples to fulfill their personal calling.
• Seeing the staff as the means to equip people to discover their personal calling and deploying them to the best places for that calling.
Every follower of Jesus is made to be the unique masterpiece God designed them to be within the context of a healthy, biblical community of faith.
Making the Shift to More Masterpieces
So how do we begin to make this critical mobilization shift? Like many of the shifts Exponential has identified and developed, a shift in the church begins with the leader and how you see and think about things. Below are specific action thoughts and questions you can begin to explore first personally and then with your team.
1. Think for Them, Not From Them.
When you think of what you want for people, how they serve your end becomes secondary to who they are becoming in Christ—the people they are meant to be.
2. Distinguish Discipleship From Development.
Discipleship is helping people develop their character to become like Christ. Development is helping them discover their calling and living it out.
3. Distinguish Bible Knowledge From a Biblical Worldview.
Instead of just giving people Bible knowledge, equip them to let the Bible inform the way they see all things and function in the world.
4. Surface Ministry From Bottom Up; Don’t Just Program Ministry From Top Down.
Encourage people to surface ministry for which you can equip them versus developing ministries for which you must fill roles.
5. Preach the Whole Gospel.
The gospel is not a message of personal salvation but the total cosmic reorienting of all things!
Audacious Kingdom Vision
Have a vision so audacious that it pushes beyond the needs of “running the church,” towards the dream of fulfilling “God’s kingdom mission.”
Is this a shift that’s worth the effort to pursue and to see put in place? How important is it to you? Spend time praying that God will unify your team around a shared vision for seeing and mobilizing volunteers differently.
Exponential has created a Made for More FREE resource kit to help your team take a deeper dive into these six shifts and equip you to apply them in your local context. Our hope is that you’ll download it, watch the videos and begin this study with your team in preparation for Exponential 2019, March 4–7 in Orlando, where you’ll join 5,000 other multiplication leaders as we walk through Ephesians and discover God’s design for his Church. Next time, we’ll unpack Shift 3: From More Guilt to More Love.