The Minister of Missions

Some churches divide pastoral responsibilities across specialized staff positions. There’s the Youth Minister, the Children’s Minister, the Ministers of Education, Music, and Missions. Many churches have Ministers of Media, Ministers of Technology and Ministers of Parking. There’s a Minister of job for just about everything. It’s like the cabinet of the French government.

But when economic times are tight, those ministries deemed “nonessential” are the first to be cut. Like the public school that cuts art and physical education in order to save some money, churches respond to lean times by combining ministries (if the football coach wants a job, he better be able to teach natural science) or by transitioning certain ministries into “lay” positions. And no, the Volunteer Director of Middle-School Ministry doesn’t get an office.

Of course, in a specialist structure, there are consequences to “cutting” the funding and support for a particular department. Getting rid of gym class doesn’t just happen to coincide with skyrocketing childhood obesity rates. Cut the music program, and you will get Lil Wayne in the Top 40.

It’s no different in churches that employ this same structure. Cutting the “Minister of Outreach and Evangelism” without completely changing the way church people think about outreach and evangelism will result in a church that neither reaches out nor evangelizes.

(Side note: if you’ve got the money, you may want to look into hiring a “Minster of Nutrition and Exercise.”)

These days, most Ministers of Missions are selling insurance or cars. But the churches that laid them off haven’t done anything to move away from the ministry specialist structure or to replace them with so much as a web app. If your specialist-style church has a Minister of Security but no Minister of Missions, you’re telling your people that security is more important than missions. The result is church people that know little about missions, culture, or geography, but feel a bit safer in the pew on a Sunday morning.

If your church is of the specialist sort and doesn’t have a “minister of missions,” then you are the minister of missions. Take responsibility; tell stories of what God is doing around the world, remind your church people that they have been blessed to be a blessing. Don’t be afraid to challenge the Minister of Coffee when it comes time to vote on next year’s budget.

About E. Goodman

Ernest Goodman is a missiologist, writer, teacher, and communications strategist.