The challenges of ministry delegation

“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Ephesians 4:11-13

In ministry there are 2 broad levels of delegation:

  1. Responsibility for a task
  2. Responsibility for a ministry

In churches, there is a lot of task delegation:

  • Play guitar on a Sunday night.
  • Lead a Bible study.
  • Teach at Kids Church.
  • Cook a meal.
  • Etc.

This delegation is the easier of the two. You can set clear boundaries and expectations. This is what Michael Hyatt describes as ‘Level 1′ delegation:

Level 1: Do exactly what I have asked you to do. Don’t deviate from my instructions. I have already researched the options and determined what I want you to do.

However, for a church to grow, I believe there needs to be more of the second level of delegation – staff giving responsibility to lay people (aka ‘volunteers’) for ministries, not just tasks. For example:

  • Leading the music ministry.
  • Overseeing community outreach.
  • Leading a team of Kids Church leaders.
  • Overseeing a hospitality ministry.
  • Etc.

5 challenges of delegating ministry responsibility

There are obvious challenges with this – 5 come to mind:

  1. It can be (or feel like it’s) easier to do it yourself.
  2. It can be difficult to find people willing to step up to the challenge of leading a ministry, rather than doing a task.
  3. The flow of people in and out of a church (this occurs to different degrees in different churches) can result in the regular loss of ministry leaders, and the need to continually start from scratch.
  4. Keeping lay leaders well informed and on the same page can be a challenge (especially when they’re not at staff meeting).
  5. Significant investment of time is required to equip, support and direct these leaders.

What challenges would you add to this list?

This article doesn’t provide any answers, I’m afraid. But I do hope to start a conversation, and start learning how to do this better.

I recently read ‘Developing One’s Delegation Capacities‘ – it’s not written for a ministry context, but has plenty of wisdom for ministry.

What have you learnt about raising up people to lead ministries, not just do tasks?