by Karen L. Willoughby
The first time church planter Joey Baysinger heard about Ministry Grid, he was hooked. The first course new deacon Brent Heaton took hooked him, too. And today, two years later, members of Desert Harvest Church in Gilbert, Arizona, have completed more than 300 Ministry Grid courses.
Ministry Grid is an online video tool created by LifeWay that provides conference-level theological and ministry-enhancing training at home or in a group setting. Its library consists of more than 3,000 conferences and training events, many of which have been edited into 10- or 20-minute segments.
“Everything on Ministry Grid is studio quality and done with excellence,” Baysinger told Facts & Trends.
“I can’t send all my people to seminary, but I can share Ministry Grid, and for a fraction of the cost,” the pastor continues. “It’s a way of growing leaders. Without leaders the church will never grow.”
Desert Harvest has grown in two years from a core group of 37 to 100 now meeting for worship in a local elementary school, and for ministry throughout the week at home, work, in their neighborhood, and community.
“We’re just leading people to Christ, one at a time, nice and slow,” Baysinger says. “We’re baptizing seven this Sunday, 12 so far this year, and 27 in the first two years.”
“I simply want slow growth,” the pastor continues. “If the church has fast growth, it’s like some of our trees in Arizona that have shallow watering and blow over in a storm.”
Baysinger credits Ministry Grid with equipping the church plant’s new leaders with the skills they need to make an eternal difference in Gilbert, a suburb southeast of downtown Phoenix that’s home to about 220,000 people.
Heaton, the first-time deacon who took the Ministry Grid course, “The Deacon I Want to Be,” led by pastor Johnny Hunt, now helps Baysinger administer the training.
“We live in a busy area and don’t have a church building of our own, so we’re always looking for creative ways to train our ministry leaders,” Baysinger says. “As the pastor, I look for topics [on Ministry Grid] and assign them to my leaders.
“I tell them, ‘I want you to watch this and take notes,’ and then we discuss what they’ve learned.”
Those discussions usually are one-on-one. “We’ve been doing this since the church began,” Baysinger says.
Baysinger was still youth pastor at Gateway Fellowship in Gilbert when he attended a training conference in Phoenix and heard about Ministry Grid.
Already anticipating planting a new church, Baysinger says he knew what a help Ministry Grid would be. Today, he says, “Our church is always on the move. Getting together for meeting and training is a difficult thing to do.”
Ministry Grid addresses the common reasons most churches don’t train: lack of time, the availability of trainers, and the cost of training.
Desert Harvest Church plans to continue renting space at the school to maximize its community impact, bolstered by Sunday worship and midweek home groups and neighborhood connections.
Among its community outreaches, the church provides movie nights in the park and sponsors the Ranch Run 5K race to raise money for children’s ministries. In addition to regular missions giving, Desert Harvest helps support an orphanage in Pakistan.
This year they used LifeWay’s Journey Off the Map VBS curriculum—with leaders trained through Ministry Grid—at Desert Harvest, at a sister church in the process of revitalization, and in Rocky Point, Mexico.
“If you don’t water for a long time, slowly, the roots grow shallow,” Baysinger says. “If I can water nice and slow and deep—like we’re doing with Ministry Grid—we’re going to become rooted and have strong leaders.”
KAREN L. WILLOUGHBY is a writer from Mapleton, Utah.