Summary: In order to help a church start and grow, you need to be more than gifted. You need to be “fully developed.” This doesn’t happen in your 20s. Almost never in your 30s. The church will probably start considering you in your 40s.
In the last post, we learned that at the beginning, organic churches need help with establishing purpose and culture. A gifted facilitator is able to do this. They will first lay the foundation of God’s eternal purpose as the reason for their existence. Then, they will guide (not control) the group in discovering their local purpose and culture as time goes on. These two things act as healthy boundaries, filtering what’s acceptable belief and behavior to be a part of the group.
You need more time
But the facilitator needs to be more than “gifted.” They need to be a highly mature or “fully developed” Christian (to use a biblical concept). It’s one thing to be smart, know your theology, have a way with people, etc. It’s another thing entirely to facilitate a group of people. When you do, it takes something that only time and the cross in a person’s life will bring…mental and emotional health and maturity. If you’re a 30-something that still gets easily offended by people, you’re not qualified to facilitate a group. If you haven’t yet learned the delicate differences between help and control, you’re not ready. You still need to be facilitated by others and themselves. You need more time to develop.
This is why it’s so sad to see religious factories supposedly “building ministers” by giving them 4 or 8 years of education and then deeming them “ready” to shepherd groups of people. It’s essentially like commissioning an adolescent child to be the chief of a tribe. Why do we expect this to work?
3 areas to grow
A “fully developed” Christian is one who is highly grounded in Christ in 3 areas – identity, security and purpose. It’s clear that their identity is not wrapped up in temporal things like their profession or local sports teams. They identify with Christ inside of them, and their daily actions routinely bear witness to this fact.
It’s clear that they feel totally secure in Christ because they’ve demonstrated that they’re willing to sacrifice and risk from their own well-being without worry or complaint. Their life is marked by serving others with their time, money and energy without expecting anything in return. They’re not easily worried about circumstances. They’re not afraid of change or the unknown. They have an unusual confidence that God is in control and will take care of them.
Lastly, they’ve submitted their personal purpose to God’s eternal purpose. It’s plainly evident that their life is not about building their own empire. Instead, it’s about building God’s Kingdom on earth. They’ve stewarded their time, money and energy toward accomplishing God’s purpose. They’ve resolved their personal purpose on the earth in light of it. Instead of becoming “someone,” they aspire to become “nothing,” taking on the nature of a servant.
Do they still have to develop the natural gifts that go along with being an “expert builder” of groups of people? Of course. That’s part of it as well. But far too often, we see people with natural gifts operating before they’ve been adequately prepared. They can be the most dangerous to the health of a group.
You also need temperature
It’s like baking an apple pie. There’s no substitute for time and temperature. Only the journey of life can provide those two factors.
Can you be identified as an individual who might eventually fill this role in the church when you are younger? Absolutely. Typically, you’ll show a propensity to be interested in personal growth. You’ll be willing to take the steps necessary to identify your weaknesses, humble yourself, seek help and take an extreme interest in the things of God. You’ll typically have natural communication skills that allow you to help groups with learning and applying important concepts.
But having these characteristics doesn’t mean you’re ready. You need time to bake in the oven. You need time and temperature. When you’re “done,” your church family should be able to identify it by the signs talked about above.
The church and its individuals is a very fragile thing, especially at the beginning. Now you’re ready to help facilitate others with the character and skill needed to not break anything.