Leaders in the church often struggle with releasing the people to do the work of ministry because most often they are insecure. It feels good to have a good audience, especially when you are the one preaching or teaching and it is a valid fear that the crowd will not come if you fully release them as the church. But as leaders it is our responsibility to equip and release the people God has entrusted to us. If each disciple were simply equipped and released to engage intentionally in his or her domains, Jesus will build his church through us.
Here are some helpful ways to become a "Releasing Pastor" by Bob Roberts Jr.:
FROM BEING GENERAL CONTROLLER TO BEING PRIMARY LEADER
A lot of pastors, myself included, have dreams and visions of what the church God has called them to is to look like. I think we have too big a vision that God wants to do through us, and too small a vision of what he wants to do through everyday disciples.
As pastors, we can see salvation and church growth as the primary end of our vision - God sees so much more. In order for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, for Jesus to be magnified, and for our world to be changed much, much more than that will be required. Even if they don't believe our gospel, our world is in need of the disciples of Jesus living like disciples, loving and serving others. The problem is, in our context we really haven't seen it that much so it has limited what we dream of.
FROM BEING THE HERO TO BEING THE HERO MAKER
One of the benefits of being at a church long term and starting it is you have led many of those people to faith in Christ, and you see many of the changes that have come. I remember in the early days of our church there were news stories on our name, how we "advertised" and how our worship services were different. Those interviews always included me. Not anymore. I love when the media calls our church because of work we do with Vietnamese, Mexicans, Muslims, city makeovers, special needs - and they have to interview our members!
I used to think the senior pastor was the chief spokesperson for the church - I don't anymore. The senior pastor is the one who defers to the stories of the people in the church. My story is their story - or I don't have a story, if I want to be a pastor. You celebrate those heroes, and as you celebrate them and tell their stories and they tell the stories, other people begin to believe their calls and dreams are also possible and begin to move forward.
FROM FOCUSING ON JUST THEIR NEEDS TO FOCUSING ON THEIR CALL
Every single Sunday, we should be "calling" out people to the ministry - and it shouldn't be merely vocational ministers like me, but the masses, the everyday disciples. That means when I call them out, most of them will still be a part of our church. Sadly, the body of Christ is way ahead of pastors in terms of seeing the world and the body of Christ being salt and light - we still hold them captive to our buildings, programs, ministries, and agendas. THEY must be our agenda.
FROM BEING THE PREACHER/TEACHER TO BEING THE PREACHER/EQUIPPER
If this is the kind of church you are going to lead, it will impact how you preach, what your new members class is, how you disciple, how you do body life, the classes that you offer - and everything else.
FROM SPEAKING FROM THE MOUNTAIN TO CRAWLING IN THE TRENCHES
As pastors we can speak from on high like a Moses. I believe the model of the 21st century will be more like a Joshua than a Moses. We will have to get dirty in our city - know the needs of our city and the gifts of our people. A pastor becomes the connector - releaser. If you don't know your city, if you don't know your people - all you can do is exegete Scripture for self improvement. If you know your city, exegesis becomes truth that determines and undergirds what God has called everyone to do. The pastor should know more about their city than anyone else.