An Every Person Ministry

Tim Keller suggests it takes about 20-25% of a congregation to be engaged in ministry for a church to become a genuine “missional” community. I repeat what I’ve said before: many like to say they are “missional” because they want to avoid being “evangelistic.” Tim Keller is at the other end of the spectrum: missional is very close to becoming a ministry with an evangelistic orientation.

Would you say your church is an every person ministry church? How did it happen? Why has it not happened? 

I feel like pastors who purchase and read Andy Stanley’s Deep & Wide and Tim Keller’s Center Church will have on their desk the wisdom of two of the finest pastors in the land. Stanley’s records wisdom for an attractional model while Keller’s records the wisdom and theology of a missional/attractional model. Neither carps on pastors or churches that don’t do it their way; both provide ideas and practices that nearly every church could use.

It seems to me that there is a growing need for a theologically-based vision of ministry by pastors who are doing ministry well, and that is why Keller’s book is so important today.

An every person ministry has four characteristics according to Keller: the ministries are organic, relational, word deploying (Bible and gospel find words), and they are active not passive.

This kind of missional evangelistic orientation has revealed to Keller that people come to faith through a series of “mini-decisions”: Awareness  (I see it), relevance (I need it), credibility (I need it because it’s true), trial (I see what would it be like), commitment (I take it), reinforcement (Now I get it). I’ve never seen this sort of mapping of process but intuitively it works for me.

The every person ministry dynamic involves three factors:

1. Believers with relational integrity: they must be like their neighbors. They must be unlike their neighbors — he focuses on integrity, generosity, hospitality, sympathy, forgiveness, chastity, responses to adversity, and equity. And they must engage  their neigbors. This section stands right next to Andy Stanley’s stuff.

2. Pastoral support. The pastor must both model missional evangelism but is to guide others theologically into a missional evangelistic orientation.

3. Safe venues, that are neither confusing nor offending (this is where Tim Keller differs from some today who seem to like to be offensive). He’s got a list of the sorts of things that can be done, but I like the one-off events — where a church figures out a way to create a venue for nonbelievers and believers to interact with significant issues and topics. (I’d like to hear what Redeemer is doing with the aftermath of Sandy.)

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com Derek Rishmawy

    Why is he so dang good?!

    As for my own church, it’s in the process of having an every person ministry church. We have some highly involved people and it’s growing. For my own little college group, I just started a student leadership team that ended up encompassing half the group. I didn’t mind because I get more people within the group who have the mindset that “I’m here to s.erve, invite in, not just attend.”

    Just a quick-thought or two.

  • Bill

    My church is nowhere close to this. They have significant leadership trouble and lack of vision. They are attempting to address these fundamentals but I am not sure they have the energy or the creativity. We have a pastor who is ready to check out and a worship pastor that isn’t and is ready to check out once he graduates from seminary. The have an elder board that, by all appearances, does not gel.

    I think my church might think they have every person ministry. But item #2 in your list is a significant deficit.


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