Yesterday was our quarterly Membership Orientation, and I had one person there. On the surface, that'd be disappointing. Putting in time and effort to coordinate a meal, space, materials and resources is a lot of work. But beyond the surface, behind what's visible, is a really beautiful picture of ministry: one.
We lead one at a time. When you're sitting with a prospective member who's excited about what's going on, who has a love for the Lord, who has a desire to jump in and serve, it's a nice reminder that God's up to something all around us. So rather than seeing it as a "waste of time" I came away from that lunch excited about who God has been bringing to us, and the joy from hearing her testimony of God's work in her life. Coolest fact: she got saved at a Billy Graham crusade and found a church "because Billy said to find a church that preached the Bible."
We lead one at a time when we invest in a hurting family. I never believed in the "ministry of presence" until I became a pastor and made ICU and hospice visits. My training is in words, but more important was me being there. We're leading by loving, by serving, and by hurting with those families.
We lead one at a time when we disciple. I wish it worked like a factory, where we could mass produce disciples like Apple makes phones. But it's not mass produced, it's organic. That means you can only do it one at a time. I look back with gratitude at the guys who discipled me over the years. They gave their time and energy. And when we disciple others, we're leading them well.
We lead one at a time when we cast vision. Vision doesn't happen from the platform (although it's important to communicate regularly), it happens as we have conversations in the hallway, over lunch, on visits, and more. That's when we share what God's put on our hearts, how we've sensed His leadership in the church, and what the future can hold if we'd trust Him enough.
We lead one at a time when we're preaching/teaching. When you look out to the crowd, hopefully you don't just see faces. Hopefully you're seeing stories, people who need a word from God that morning, people who are longing for hope, who are teetering on a decision to follow Christ, or more. I'm not saying you tailor your message to Sally or Fred, but as you're preparing and something jumps out because you're dealing with a person or issue related to your passage, pray for wisdom and grace and boldness and compassion as you share. This past Sunday I spent some time sharing about letting anger go, knowing there were several who I'd talked with with long-reaching grudges or past hurts.
How else do you lead one at a time?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.