Have you ever been to a conference or lectureship, only to feel more discouraged when you left than when you arrived? You hear someone speak convincingly about a successful ministry or program in their congregation. You are convinced this could work for you. Then you return home, less than optimistic that you could realize the same results.
Wayne Cordeiro (Doing Church as a Team) suggests that when we consider new plans and programs, we take guidance from the words God spoke to Moses as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness and into the Promised Land: Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out(Numbers 10:1-2). God told Moses to make trumpets of silver—but where would former slaves find this precious metal? It’s here that we see God’s ministry strategy.
Begin with what you have. Fortunately, God had already made provision for the Israelites to execute the plan. Exodus 12:36 tells us, “The LORD had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.” There is always the temptation in ministry to focus on what you don’t have instead of what you have. What is it that God has already placed into your hands? I suggest you start with your greatest resource—people. Most of us have a burning desire for ministry in our hearts, but we have never been encouraged or equipped to pursue our heart’s longing to minister and to serve. Maybe you’ve heard of a concept called Capacity Mapping. This is when a coach looks at the players he has at the beginning of the season and asks, “What are our goals, and what are our current strengths according to those goals?” He then makes a strategic plan to achieve capacity. The question you should be asking in ministry is this: what strengths do we currently have without additional training, resources, and money? What precious commodities can be found within our people? Find a white board. Map your capacity, and you’ll be amazed at what God has already placed into your hands.
Blow a clear trumpet. Notice that God commanded Moses to “make yourself” these trumpets (Num. 10:1). Moses was not to buy them, rent them or borrow them. He was to hammer them out for himself and learn to blow them clearly. These uniquely created trumpets were to be used to call the congregation together. Most of us at one time or another have borrowed trumpets fashioned by others to motivate our people. Remember: only you and those with whom you do ministry can discern the distinct call needed for your ministry and community. So discuss: what is one unique need within our community that we can begin to serve immediately?
Take back hammering techniques. So, what should we take back from other ministries? Learn principles and new perspectives, but don’t buy ready-made trumpets. It is much better to give your people the permission and protection they need to live out their passions and gather to themselves others to help them make the vision a reality. Brian Sanders writes, “Empowerment is not about giving someone the right to do something; it’s connecting people to the authority they already have from God to live out their calling” (Outreach, March/April 2018, 111). When people are encouraged to create ministry out of their unique calling and talents, the old adage is realized: “People support what they created.” Instead of a top-down approach – “here’s a borrowed program to implement” – why not gather people and ask better questions: “If this church could accomplish three things, what would they be?”
Remember: the reason the trumpets of others work so well in their communities is that the leaders have taken the time to hammer them out for themselves. Each of us must do the same. God told Moses, “Make two trumpets.” From the very beginning, Moses had to recruit and train others. Our success as servant-leaders will always be dependent upon gathering other divinely empowered men and women together to engage in the creative work of God. Looking for someone to lead a visioning process for your congregation? Contact us at www.dbministrycoach.com. We have experienced facilitators to help you discover your congregation’s unique gifts and talents. We won’t give you a trumpet; we’ll help you hammer out your own! We offer engaging weekend workshops to help you discern your congregation’s unique path forward.