Several years I ago I was invited to a meeting for local pastors. As I listened, two things were clear. Some of the pastors had a system and strategy that guided their work and I had neither.
Some of these leaders talked about models. Others were working plans. I kept racking my brain for something I could say that would contribute to the conversation. But, I had nothing.
I realize now that they were talking on a different level than I was on.
In the book “Sustainable Youth Ministry” Mark DeVries makes the case that any ministry needs to fill three critical roles. It’s a book about youth ministry but the principles apply to any organization. For some reason, the analogy just stuck with me.
DeVries argues that every ministry needs an architect, a contractor, and craftsmen. I think he’s right. I’ll explain why in reverse order…
The craftsmen may never see the master plan of a building. They don’t really need to see the big picture. The plumber just needs to know where to put the toilet.
When I first started in ministry, I was a craftsman. I connected with people easily. I had natural gifts for being up in front of people. Beyond that, I didn’t know what I was doing.
In our campus ministry we have a group that bakes cookies every week before our large group gathering. They play a critical role in helping us create the environment we want to create in order to achieve the goals we want to achieve. But, they don’t care about that.
Making cookies is one way this group can love and serve students. They’re glad we’re making disciples but they aren’t concerned about the details of our process. They’re serving as craftsmen within the ministry.
The contractor has the master plan. He didn’t design the plan. But, he works closely with the architect to make sure his plan is carried out. He may not know how to do every job but he can find the people who can and get them the materials they need.
The larger a church or ministry, the more crucial this role becomes. Someone, or some group of people, needs to keep things organized and pulling in the same direction. That’s the role of the contractor.
The contractor doesn’t have to be able to create a discipleship process from scratch. But, they do need to understand the master plan well and work it faithfully.
The architect owns the master plan. He designs the building. He knows why every door and window is placed where it is.
In ministry, it’s crucial that someone designs a system that multiplies disciples. That’s the only mission we’ve been given! Someone, or some group of people, needs to intentionally architect a discipleship system.
I love what Jim Putman says in the Real Life Discipleship Training Manual…
“Many willing Christians have absolutely no plan for disciple-making. Some even spiritualize their lack of intention as if it leaves more room for God to be at work…Intentional leaders drive the discipleship process. They do not leave it to chance or random luck.” — Jim Putman
I had to learn to think like an architect. At times, I was guilty of spiritualizing my lack of intention. I believed working a plan somehow minimized the Spirit’s work.
Intentional leaders drive the discipleship process. But, they also design a discipleship process like an architect. The ministry leader that thinks like an architect designs a process for helping people get from point A to point B.
What do you think about this analogy? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.