1) Begin re-focusing your ministry on the ministry and power of the Word. In some congregations this can be the greatest challenge. External pressures to maintain the CEO mode can be extraordinary. But you must start somewhere. So start with yourself.
Involve yourself in in-depth study of the Word, significant time in prayer, private meditation and other means to focus on your ongoing spiritual development (cf. Ministry Health articles #243 “God’s Little Surprise” and #146 “Twelve Steps Of Transformation” for further insight).
2) Study Christian resources which discuss the teachings of church and ministry. Most denominations have literature in their tradition which discusses these critical issues. C.F.W. Walther’s Church and Ministry (Concordia Publishing House) is just one of many Christian standards.
3) Take inventory of your ministry. What “service” areas can you begin to gradually work yourself out of to enable you to focus more on ministry, teaching, equipping and prayer?
4) Teach the congregation what the Scriptural ministry really is. Sermons, Bible Classes, studies with leaders, newsletter articles all go a long way to help them understand God’s calling for them.
5) Incorporate a proper understanding of the ministerial office in all congregational vision and mission statements. Refer frequently to these statements to emphasize the role of each member of the Body, the proper authority of the ministerial office, and the primary responsibility to be engaged in a passionate ministry of the Word of God.
6) Implement this understanding. If necessary, move slowing. The learning process takes time. It can take years for the transition to start making headway. Besides, having to wait is probably the best lesson you can have because it makes you depend on the Holy Spirit’s action through the Word. That’s OK. It’s a good lesson. It’s what the ministry is about.
7) Start with your leaders. Some of the most effective pastors find that conducting annual workshops on the office of the ministry as part of the new leader orientation is a most effective strategy to maintain and uphold a proper understanding of the ministry of the Word.
8) Pray for your leaders… First that God give you more, Second, that God strengthen the ones you have, and Third, that through your ministry God would move them toward greater enthusiasm, usefulness, and joy in the Word.
9) Delegate the ministry to those upon whom you feel the Holy Spirit can and/or already is at work and upon whom you can lay your hands with the confident blessing of God.
10) Be patient. Patience refers not just to time, but to relationships with people. Some, having been dependent upon their pastor for everything, won’t want to give up their dependency. Some people, wanting to discover the joy of service and spiritual growth, will revert back to their old resistant ways.
11) Expect conflict. Welcome conflict as a signal indicating that spiritual renewal is beginning. God’s Word works like seeds. The seed grows, as Jesus said, automatically. Cultivate the seed anyway you can…and let God give the growth. See Ministry Health’s “Five Commands For Sowers”, Article # 237 for more insight.
12) Continually recruit, urge and celebrate people who “make a difference for the Lord.” The calling of each member of the Body of Christ is to exercise their faith in a way that makes a difference in the ministry of the Word. Don’t deprive them of their calling. Let go of the “reins.” Give them some support and opportunities to serve according to their gifts. It may scare you at first. That’s OK. It’s just a sign that you’re growing too!