The apostles were wise men. But they did not always start out wise. They started out doing everything in the ministry, then they woke up to the fact that choices had to be made. So they decided that they could not leave aside the word of God to wait on tables, and they delegated that task to some able men from the congregation, while they focused their attention on the ministry of the word and prayer. And those able men not only did that job creditably, at least two of them went on to become mighty preachers in their own right, one lost his neck in one of the most glorious deaths recorded in the Scriptures, and the other was God’s divine instrument to save the city of Samaria.
The same debate and conundrum is evident in our churches today. While the Bible clearly speaks of ministry as being done by the whole church and ministers as those who train believers to do the work of the ministry, by and large our churches still function under the shopping cart mentality. Or perhaps it is because leaders are playing the numbers game and would rather lower the bar than raise disciples. For whatever reason we ignore the wisdom of the apostles, leaders slave away while church members refuse to serve in ministry, refuse to make themselves available for the practical tasks required for the church to function well and simply want to come shopping on Sunday and take their pick of what they like and do not like. According to Rick Warren “Thousands of local churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. They sit on the sidelines as spectators and the Body suffers. Most of the time believers are more interested in ‘serve-us’ rather than service. The mature follower of Jesus stops asking “Who’s going to meet my needs?” and starts asking, “Whose needs can I meet?” .
In other words any serious Christian should be asking how they can be a blessing to and serve the church, not asking what the church can do for them. Ministry of course is diverse and there is more to serving than welcoming people on Sunday morning or whatever else you do during the worship service. Leaders should let and encourage others to share in the work of the ministry. The apostles tried to do it all and failed. When pastors try to do it all, they fail, they fail in the vital ministry of the Word and begin to speak things that come out of their minds and feed the flesh rather than the spirit. The business of the gospel minister is the word and prayer, that must be priority. If a person is deficient in this they are not competent to be a minister of the gospel. If they are deficient in anything else, (or if the ministry is), it is because it is not their job, it is the job of some member in the church who is not doing it, only complaining.
Funny the change came when some people complained. It does not matter how much you try to do, somebody will always complain. And the answer is not that you are not doing enough and you should do more, it may be that you really are overstretching yourself and that some of those complainers and others need to be put to work. Often the loudest complainers are those who do the least. When church members fail to do their share of the follow up, the training, the children’s ministry, the arts and media outreach, admin, new technology, worship development, and it falls on the pastor, they are essentially reducing the effectiveness of the ministry, the spiritual fibre of the church, the power of the word preached and consequently the blessing that comes to their own lives.