Confessions of a Closet Control Freak
by Scott Warren
My name is Scott, and I am a control freak.
It feels good to get that off my chest! I never thought I was a control freak
until I planted a church. It didn’t take me long to discover that my need for control
was severely limiting the growth of the church and the spiritual growth of the
people our family had poured so much into over the past few years.
I think the issue of control is a struggle for most church planters. By necessity, the church planter serves in many roles during the early stages of launching a church. At any given time, he serves as janitor, public relations specialist, vision caster, maintenance technician, teacher, counselor, musician, singer, secretary, treasurer, communications specialist, and real estate searcher, just to name a few. That doesn’t include set-up and tear down in mobile church settings.
All these roles are in addition to the primary roles that led us to our field of service—preaching the gospel, making disciples, and prayer. It’s not an easy job at all. In fact, it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done. At some point, you get accustomed to “doing everything.” While this may be necessary to get the church started, once people begin to plug into the new church, the challenge is to release those roles and equip others to serve.
Growth Through Service
Most people have heard the 80/20 Rule—also known as the Pareto principle after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto: 80% of the work in the church is done by 20% of the people. This pretty well describes most churches, and I think it is part of the reason for stunted growth, both in terms of church attendance, and more critically, in the maturation process of individual believers. We all know that every church, large or small, needs people to serve in order to be successful. What may not be as apparent is that serving is a key component in the spiritual development and maturity of the follower of Christ.
If we are truly made in the image of God, we were created to serve. Mark 10:45 tells us that Jesus, the image of the invisible God, did not come to be served, but to serve. Ephesians 2:10 reminds believers we were created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Nothing crushes the sinful strongholds of pride and selfishness like serving others. The more we serve, the more we become like Jesus. We need to serve.
By keeping all those roles to myself, I denied people the opportunity to grow in Christlikeness. Something had to change.
My Path to “Losing Control”
I began by making a list of every task in the operation of our church and our outreach to the community. With that list in hand, we planned a ministry fair. Our church has been blessed with quite a bit of growth recently, and many regular attenders had no idea how they could plug in. The ministry fair gave them the opportunity to find out, and to sign up for ministries in which they were interested.
We chose the theme “Get in the Game, Join a Ministry Team,” promoted the fair for several weeks, and printed business card sized, take-home descriptions of the various ministry teams for which we needed volunteers. We decorated and set up tables in the lobby, and offered refreshments. The fair was held immediately following a Sunday service. The response was better than we ever imagined!
We now enjoy our own version of the 80/20 Rule at our church. About 80% of the people who regularly attend have committed to be part of one or more of our ministry teams. Leaders are emerging. Fringe attenders are becoming more faithful and contributing. People who didn’t really know each other beyond the Sunday morning surface level now serve the church family and the community shoulder-to-shoulder. Deep friendships are forming. As they serve alongside each other, they talk about life and faith, and encourage and help each other in their walk with Christ. In all honesty, our ministries are much more effective now. When one person—or even a few—tries to do everything, nothing really gets done well.
As I see my church family growing more like Jesus through serving, I see another added benefit that makes me happy…excitement! People in our church are excited about their role in the church. They love their church more; they’re growing in their love for Jesus, and they are more eager to invite others to join them. These results make “losing control” something I actually enjoy.
About the Writer: Scott and Staci Warren are planting Crosspoint FWB Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. Learn more about their church at www.crosspointslc.org