“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:29
In any organizations, whether secular or religious, they cannot grow without having the capacity to take care of their clients or members. For example, take the food business – one person with two helpers will be able to run a food stall at a food court or hawker center. In many instances, we tend to see more than two helpers working with the stall owner. Now, if one wants to run a restaurant, then it depends upon what kind of restaurant business, the owner wants to do. He can manage a small restaurant where his whole family is involved plus five or six helpers serving as waiters and so on. For a bigger restaurant operation that caters to bigger crowds such as at wedding dinners, then the number of chefs, cooks, servers, waiters and other crews will have to increase.
The question is which one comes first – something like the question of the chicken or the eggs. Customers first or the crews first?
Can a food stall cater to a lunch crowd if it is only a one-man operation? Then of course the question will be how large a lunch crowd is one expecting. My father operated a chicken rice stall at a local coffee shop in Katong, Singapore, for almost 40 years. His little operation needed at least four people to run.
How about if one wants to run a bigger operation? Can a big-time restaurant that caters to wedding crowds operate with only one cook and two helpers? I used to operate three restaurants, one supermarket and one business school. All in all, I had over 75 staffs helping me. In every instance, it was always getting the crews first before the businesses could serve any customers and the school able to receive students.
Some pastors think that maintaining a one-pastor’s church is the most efficient way of fulfilling God’s will in their lives. That conviction is not wrong in itself as long as it comes from God. These pastors may have a couple of volunteers to help them maintain the church ministries but their goal is the keep their operations small enough to be managed by only one pastor.
However, another group of pastors may have a different calling. They believe that in order to provide good ministries for all who attend their churches, they must build a stronger and larger base of leaders and helpers. Whether these are called “lay pastors”, “elders” or “deacons”, they are appointed for the purpose of providing leadership and ministries to the growing congregations. With a strong foundation of trained and competent leaders, these pastors believe that their churches are better equipped to serve more people and train disciples for the kingdom of God. Subsequently, these pastoral leaders are encouraged to launch preaching points, outreaches, mission works and plant churches.
Both the ‘food stall owners’ approach and the ‘restaurant owners’ approach are not wrong. It’s matter of purpose and also the personal capability and capacity of the pastors. Some are called to be pastors of small congregations while others are called to grow large congregations.
The important thing is that one be faithful to the calling of God in one’s life. It’s nothing wrong to begin small but it’s absolutely wrong if the church chooses not to grow to her maximum potential. The parable of the talents reveals that God does not give equally to every one of His stewards. Some He gives more while others He gives lesser. However, the parable also depicts one important principle – whatever God gives to you, you must invest and multiple. Jesus said, “For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matthew 25:29).
If one is called to be a ‘stall owner’, then be the very best ‘stall owner’ one can be. If one is called to be a ‘restaurant owner’, then be the very best ‘restaurant owner’ one can be. In similar fashion, if a pastor believes that he is called to run the church with him serving as the only pastor, then he should be the very best pastor he can be. On the other hand, if a pastor believes in running the church with many pastors, then he should appoint, train and facilitate all the other pastors, assisting them be the very best pastors they can be. He, himself, must also learn to be a servant leader so as to become the very best lead or senior pastor he can be.
To whatever station one is called, let us be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ who is our Chief Shepherd, Master and Saviour of us all.
Rev Albert Kang