I’ve tried to emphasize in this book the importance of laying a biblical foundation for everything you do. People always need to know “why” before you teach them “how.” Invest time in teaching your members the biblical basis for lay ministry. Then teach it in classes, sermons, seminars, home Bible studies, and any other way you can emphasize it. In fact, you should never stop teaching on the importance of every Christian having a ministry.
We have summarized what we believe about ministry in a Ministry Mission Statement. Based on Romans 12:1–8, we believe the church is built on four pillars of lay ministry. We teach these four pillar truths over and over again so that they will be deeply ingrained in the hearts of our members.
Pillar #1: Every believer is a minister
Every believer isn’t a pastor, but every believer is called into ministry. God calls all believers to minister to the world and the church. Service in the body isn’t optional for Christians. In God’s army, there are no volunteers—he’s drafted all of us into service.
To be a Christian is to be like Jesus. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, italics added). Service and giving are the defining characteristics of the Christlike lifestyle expected of every believer.
At Saddleback, we teach that every Christian is created for ministry (see Eph. 2:10), saved for ministry (see 2 Tim. 1:9), called into ministry (see 1 Peter 2:9–10), gifted for ministry (see 1 Peter 4:10), authorized for ministry (see Matt. 28:18–20), commanded to minister (see Matt. 20:26–28), to be prepared for ministry (see Eph. 4:11–12), needed for ministry (see 1 Cor. 12:27), accountable for ministry, and will be rewarded according to his or her ministry (see Col. 3:23–24).
Pillar #2: Every ministry is important
There are no “little people” in the body of Christ, and there are no “insignificant” ministries. Every ministry is important.
God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable. 1 Corinthians 12:18–22
Some ministries are visible and some are behind the scenes, but all are equally valuable. At SALT, our monthly ministry training rally, we emphasize and recognize all of our ministries equally.
Small ministries often make the greatest difference. The most important light in my home is not the large chandelier in our dining room but the little nightlight that keeps me from stubbing my toe when I get up to use the bathroom at night. It’s small, but it’s more useful to me than the show-off light. (My wife says that my favorite light is the one that comes on when I open the refrigerator!)
Pillar #3: We are dependent on each other
Not only is every ministry important, every ministry is also intertwined with all the others. No ministry is independent of the others. Since no single ministry can accomplish all the church is called to do, we must depend on and cooperate with each other. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece is required to complete the picture. You always notice the missing piece first.
When one part of your body malfunctions, the other parts don’t work as well. One of the missing components in the contemporary church is this understanding of interdependence. We must work together. Our culture’s preoccupation with individualism and independence must be replaced with the biblical concepts of interdependence and mutuality.
Pillar #4: Ministry is the expression of my SHAPE
This is a distinctive of Saddleback’s teaching on ministry. SHAPE is an acronym I developed years ago to explain the five elements (spiritual gifts, heart, abilities, personality, and experiences) that determine what a person’s ministry should be.
When God created animals, he gave each of them a specific area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each animal has a particular role to play based on the way they were shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or shaped, by God to do certain things.
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message and Mission (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007).