“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 12:12
Last year I told my Bishop that I hope I never perform a baptism at the church I pastor. He looked at me a bit strange. Since I didn’t elaborate, he asked me if I knew that baptism was one of the ordinances of the church. I said I did, but I repeated that I sincerely hope I never did a baptism at my church. He said, “Okayyyyyy, I’ll bite.”
I said this to my Bishop after discovering that one of the greatest joys I’ve had as a pastor have been the times I’ve not ministered. I may be the pastor of the church, but I also know I’m not the only minister in God’s Church or in the local church where I pastor.
When I read this passage in 1 Corinthians 12:12, it makes me wonder why, in most churches, the pastor is the one who does most of the ministry and has all the key roles. The former pastor of my church was there for almost three decades, and his son was still at the church when I arrived. One day I said to this pastor’s son that one of the things I hope I never do is baptize. Again, that look. I said, “Why should the pastor have the privilege of baptizing people who were invited to church and, in many cases, discipled by others? I think the person who is most influential in the salvation of a new believer should have the privilege of baptizing them. Furthermore, why is it the pastor is the only one who gets to baptize his own kids? Why shouldn’t every parent have that joy?”
At this point the pastor’s son looked at me and, with a bit of envy in his voice said, “I would have loved to have baptized my kids.” I knew then I was on to something. So, last summer when a young girl asked to be baptized, I sat down with her and her mother and explained baptism. I also gave the young girl permission to have anyone she wants to baptize her. She chose her mom and her aunt. It was then I had the honor of standing aside while others did the ministry. When I explained this to my Bishop, he finally concluded I wasn’t a complete heretic.
I’m also looking for ways to share the blessing of leading in the Lord’s Supper. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that the pastor is the only one qualified to bless the elements of communion. Last month I asked one of the members of our church to lead us in communion. I gave him free reign to do anything he wanted because I trusted him and knew He would honor God. He shared sincerely and emotionally his love for His Savior. He had his family assist him in distributing the elements, and chose a very appropriate song and video to share while we all took of the Lord’s Supper. After I received the elements and sat down, I looked up at the screen, relished the beautiful lyrics passing by, and thanked God for the humbling honor of being part of such a beautiful congregation. Now I’m pleased to announce to the world that last month’s communion service was perhaps the most beautiful Lord’s Supper we’ve had at Journey Church, and I was not the one in charge.
I believe very true leader in God’s Church has a gift called “Getting Out Of The Way.” It is a gift not seen very often in most churches, but one that more church leaders should rediscover in their lives. I encourage every pastor and leader to look for ways to let the Body of Christ be the Body and not just an accessory to their ministry. Doing this has been one of the highlights of my pastoral career, and I believe it will be one of yours, too.