Keys to Increasing Unity, Health, and Effectiveness in the Church

In light of the recent launch of Ministry Grid, B21 will be running a set of three posts from different voices in the SBC on the importance of raising up leaders in the local church.

Our first post will be by Dr. Thom S. Rainer, President & CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, author of I Am a Church Member

Keys to Increasing Unity, Health, and Effectiveness in the Church

In a recent non-scientific Twitter survey, I asked pastors and church staff to respond with the biggest challenge they face in ministry. One of the issues noted was leadership development. This quote, expanded from its abbreviated Twitter form, is representative of the feedback I received: “We miss too many opportunities in ministry because we don’t have enough leaders ready.”

Regardless of the terminology you use, whether it’s “training” or “leadership development,” there’s a great deal of ambiguity with all of the thoughts and opinions floating around in the church today. Leadership development is critical for the health, unity, and effectiveness of the church, but it has become unclear as to what the best option is and what people mean when they use those terms.

Too many have gotten away from what Scripture shows us on the topic:

“And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 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, HCSB).

From this passage, we can learn three important lessons about training in ministry.

  1.    Christ personally gave this role. It was important to Him, so it must be important to us.
  2.     The role of pastors is not so much to do ministry, as it is to train others to do ministry.
  3.     If pastors fulfill this role then the body of Christ is built up. As a result, believers become unified in the faith.

Scripture is clear: as pastors and church leaders are more involved in training others to do ministry, there will be greater unity, health, and effectiveness in the church.

Anyone who has served any length of time in ministry knows this. But as we researched this issue in local congregations, we uncovered a sobering reality:

While pastors affirmed their critical role in training others to do ministry, almost three fourths of these pastors had no plans to do so.

For most pastors, the reasons for 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 are making this issue a major priority. We see a great opportunity to provide almost unlimited training in this digital age that could not be done in years past. So LifeWay is launching an affordable and convenient tool for both church leaders and those being equipped.

We call this training tool Ministry Grid ( Its web-based platform allows you to assign video training and track the progress of users in your church or ministry. You may choose from over 1,500 videos or utilize Ministry Grid’s customizable features by uploading your own videos and turning off any unwanted content to suit your team or church. With both web and mobile apps, Ministry Grid gives your leaders access to training and allows them to be equipped to do ministry at anytime and anywhere that is convenient to them.

Ministry Grid was also developed in conjunction with the leaders who will be using it. We conducted panels and research to provide clarity to leadership training, and assembled an effective training model we believe is applicable to any church. It covers three main components: skillful training, facilitated by godly leaders, when people realize they need it.

First, skillful training impacts the head, heart, and hands (Acts 2:37). Skillful training evokes the passions and desires God has placed in the hearts of individuals as well as gives them practical methods to accomplish the tasks set before them. This may be training on deep spiritual issues or on more practical things like how to train parking lot attendants.

We reproduce who we are. Therefore, training must be facilitated by godly leaders. It’s not about programs and platforms or an information dump. Leadership development cannot be digitized. Training is most effectively accomplished through relationships.

Finally, people are most impacted by training when they realize they need it and when the training is applied specifically to their unique context. With Ministry Grid, when new leaders start asking questions, a coach can immediately assign the proper training in response and debrief with the leader at a later time.

With Ministry Grid, you will bring clarity to a very confusing conversation and precipitate growth at every level of leadership within the local churh