The Holy Man Myth
In his book, Sticky Church, Larry Osborne identified a predominant belief in the church that he labeled the Holy Man Myth. “[This] is the idea that pastors and clergy somehow have a more direct line to God. It cripples a church because it overburdens pastors and underutilizes the gifts and anointing of everyone else. It mistakenly equates leadership gifts with superior spirituality (Stick Church, 49).”
When the Holy Man Myth is embraced, church leaders believe the lie that the execution of ministry rests fully on their shoulders, while lay people believe the lie that they are consumers not contributors. This leads to leaders executing the ministry of the church from the platform to the parking lot; from the church to the home. Their job description reflects the mentality below:
When leaders embrace this myth, everyone loses. Lay people are robbed of the joy of using their gifts for the kingdom. Additionally, the church staff’s impact is minimized because their gifts are not maximized.
The Empowered Shift
For church staff, they must shift their mentality from WHAT to WHO. This is the Empowered Shift and it is one of the most important shifts that a church leader can make. A leader moves from focusing on what God can do through one person to what he can do through a community of people. The empowered shift has been illustrated in many different ways:
- Task -> People
- Execute -> Equip
- Do -> Develop
- Perform -> Prepare
When a church leader embraces the empowered shift, his or her ministry looks much different than the Holy Man Myth. The church leader focuses on how he can help God’s people become who God designed them to be so they can minister to one another.
An empowering leader sees individuals not just as consumers of their ministry efforts, but co-laborers. They look at their week and ask who should I spend time with before asking what do I need to do. When an empowering leader leverages the gifts of those in the church body, the individuals can experience the joy of using their gifts and the body can experience the blessings of it. Additionally, the leader removes himself as the lid to the church’s potential.
Biblical Foundation For Empowerment
The Empowered Shift is based off of three core beliefs:
- Everyone has a gift (Ephesians 2:10; 1 Peter 4): Eric Geiger said it well, “The church does not consist of people with a gifted pastor, but a gifted people with a pastor.” God has given each person a unique combination of personality, skills , and passions that allow him or her to make a difference.
- The Church needs each person’s gift (1 Corinthians 12): The church will only succeed when everyone plays their part. Using Paul’s imagery, the church is much like a body; each member has a role. Without an eye or without an arm, the body is incomplete and less effective. Additionally, if a church member is never asked to steward their gifts, then the individual and the church community is robbed of one of God’s gifts.
- Church leaders should not just execute ministry, but equip people (Ephesians 4:11-12): In Ephesians 4, Paul explains how leaders are called not just to execute the works of ministry, but equip people to do it as well. Even if a church leader doesn’t identify as one of the titles listed in Ephesians 4, he or she is still called to steward the resources that God has given us in which there is none greater than his people and their gifts.