By Kailey Black
Leading a church requires wearing many hats and meeting various expectations, which can be a demanding task. While most pastors love the ministry God has called them to, church leadership is not an easy task.
“The oversight of a church is more difficult than the oversight of a business,” says Bob Russell, retired senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky.
Pastoral development remains important in navigating the various issues a church leader encounters. From weekly sermon preparation and balancing ministry with family life to avoiding burnout and addressing moral issues, leadership can take its toll on pastors. After serving four decades as a senior pastor, Russell understands these sticky areas. “It takes an extra measure of grace for the minister to cope with the pressure put on him.”
To equip pastors to deal with pressures of ministry, LifeWay has developed an online tool that offers customizable training in pastoral development. Ministry Grid is a collection of video training including real life experiences and insights from pastors and ministry leaders like Russell who understand the blessings and difficulties of leading a church. Pastors can access Ministry Grid’s videos from a computer, tablet or smartphone, making it convenient for them to train anytime, anywhere.
“Technology has changed the way we do commerce, educate and entertain ourselves, but up to now it hasn’t affected the way pastors train and develop themselves, their staff and their leaders,” says Todd Adkins, LifeWay’s director of leadership. “Many churches are finding it increasingly difficult to schedule time to attend or host training. Getting a group of people together for multiple training sessions is even more difficult.
“We wanted to develop a tool that would address the desire of a pastor’s heart to fully equip his staff and leaders for the work of ministry,” Adkins says. “Knowing this, we created full suites of development for staff and lay leaders, because the church is a community of gifted people and not merely a community with a gifted pastor.”
Being prepared for ministry is critically important. As Russell says, “The stakes are extremely high. We’re dealing with vital issues in people’s lives. As tough as it is, we’re still influencing people for the cause of Christ.”
In addition to pastoral training, Ministry Grid provides a platform for training in all areas of the church from parking ministry to children’s ministry to church polity. Church leaders can also upload their own content, turn off unwanted content and put their church’s logo and skin on the site.
“LifeWay’s Ministry Grid is one of the most practical helps to come out since Bible study software,” Russell says. “It provides pastors, staff members and lay leaders a library of directives about how to handle all kinds of contemporary leadership challenges. This learned, functional counsel is instantly available at the church leader’s fingertips when needed.”
Well-equipped leaders are essential to churches that want to grow and reach the world around them, but research shows few churches have a plan to develop leaders.
“Almost all pastors we surveyed affirmed their critical role in training others to do ministry. But almost three fourths of these pastors had no plans to do so,” says LifeWay President Thom Rainer. “For most pastors, the reasons behind this gap were simple: they either didn’t know how to take the next steps, or they didn’t feel like they had the time to do so.
“At LifeWay, we began to make this issue a major priority,” explains Rainer. “We saw a great opportunity to provide almost unlimited training in this digital age that could not be done in earlier years. We’ve created something that will be convenient for church leaders and those being equipped at an affordable cost for all churches.”
So, how does it work? Say there is a new volunteer working in the children’s ministry. We’ll call her Amy. She needs training, but doesn’t have time to attend a weekend seminar. On her own time, Amy logs in from her own computer or mobile device and sees a list of training videos created for her. Or she can take a skills assessment and receive training suggestions based on the results. She picks a course, watches a video and she’s done.
Church leaders will find the functionality of Ministry Grid allows them to meet the diverse needs of their volunteers. Leaders can easily organize and assign training courses to different individuals and also track their progress. Pastors can be confident their staff, leaders and volunteers receive the training they need to better prepare them to make disciples.
“We have made the Ministry Grid easy to use,” Adkins says. “This isn’t a cookie cutter solution we are simply plugging in to our system. We conducted panels and talked with pastors from hundreds of churches, looked at existing online education and existing training platforms then started from scratch. The result is Ministry Grid is actually built from the ground up to serve churches in their mission of making disciples.”
Ministry Grid will launch in May 2013. Visit MinistryGrid.com to learn more.
Kailey Black is editor of Ministry Grid. Whit Stiles and Polly House contributed to this article.