Relevancy, the 21st Century Church, & the Five Fold (Part 5)


Can “Releasing” Be That Difficult?

 In my May 13th blog I wrote, “After writing almost 300 blogs over the last few years about the Church from the perspective of the five fold not being “offices” by “church officials” but “passions” and “points of view” that drive believers in Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t the Church want to examine the relevancy of .....  actually “releasing those already in the Church to do the work of an evangelist, or shepherding, being pastoral, or teaching the Word, or bringing spiritual relevancy and life to the Word, or “seeing over” what the Holy Spirit is doing with the corporate body of Christ?” Let’s look at that question.

The last blog we looked at “equipping” or preparing the saints for the work of the service, but what happens if we have done the preparation work?  If we “prepare” but do not “release”, our efforts are in vain!  We, the 21st Century Church, needs to learn how to “release.”

As a public educator, watching a High School Graduation Ceremony is a challenge.  You have spent 12 years in their life to “prepare” or “equip” them for the real world, but if you don’t release them (graduate them) they will never mature into adults!  Although a senior thinks he knows it all, he is in for a real shock when being released.  A new challenge begins, and he can’t return back to high school anymore? That is right! Now is the real test to see if we really “prepared” the student or not.

In the church world we, too, have often prepared people for ministry, but fear releasing them as if they are not ready!  In a past blog I told of the Lay Speaker’s courses I took through the United Methodist Church when I was young, but very few of those of us who took the course ever got to fill a pulpit to give a sermon.  The pastors were afraid to “release” their pulpits to non-clergy, fearing heresy, false teaching, or something….?  I have often asked, “Why were we even trained if they were not willing to release us upon graduation?”

I have seen churches who have released their members to move on in a ministry with the laying on of hands, financially supporting them, and blessing them by continual correspondence.  That was powerful.  It is far different being sent out as a “Lone Ranger” into a ministry rather than with the blessing of a caring, loving church as a covering.  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto!  Instead of church splits, we would see church growths without disunity, hurt, and dissention. 

In the natural, the “empty nest syndrome” is tough on a parent who has nurtured and cared for a child, pouring everything physically, spiritually, and financially into their child, only to face an empty bedroom never to be lived in again by that child, for that child is no more; he has become an adult! That child will move on to their own apartment, eventually owning their own home, and maybe even building a grandparent’s suite on to their home to take care of their aging parent!  Children cannot become adults unless they are “released.”  Often, as a church, we have not only enabled other believers from spiritually growing, but we have held on to them too long, unable to release them. This has produced negative results.

As a church we spend countless hours, finances, and resources on our “Youth Groups”, the “future generation” of church leaders as we call them, but lose them when they hit their 20’s.  This is the decade of their growth, maturing into becoming an independent adult, and we, the church, don’t know what to do with them trying to fit them into our molds of the way we think and “do” church when they are looking for their own expressions of faith and truth, though in different ways than we deem “acceptable” or even “reasonable”.  What did we “equip” our youth to do in their teens that we could release them toward maturity in their 20’s?  Most Church Teen Conferences are hyped up to save one’s High School, change the world, and be a history maker.  They are not geared to “equip” or “prepare” those teens for their 20’s, thus they leave the church and search for the meaning of life when I thought the church already gave them that meaning!

If we are truly “equipping” or “preparing” our youth for the “work of the service”, then why are they leaving the church that supposedly equipped them when they work out their maturity, their adulthood?  The 21st Century Church needs to rethink how it “equips” and “releases” its future generation or it will lose them and the church becomes a spiritual “assisted living” building for the aged.

Again I would like to blog about Doris Dolheimer, who taught me a lot about equipping and releasing. Although an excellent Pentecostal pianist in her own right, she was willing to take those in their early teens under her wing to teach them worship, not as a style of music, but as a principle, equipping them to “hear the voice of the conductor”, the Holy Spirit and to be obedient to the conductor’s leading.  When those youth grew to become good musicians and began to practice some of the spiritual principles that she taught, she released them.  She walked off the stage, allowing the sound of the music to change to their expression, more “rockier,” and even watching her beloved baby grand piano be replaced with drums, electronic instruments, amps and monitors.  The sound and style of worship may have changed, but the principles she “equipped” them with haven’t.  Today she still remains in the pew and worships, while many of those that she has “equipped” have rocked on with Jesus with the desire to create a worshipful atmosphere.

21st Century Church needs to better equip and then release, let go with a blessing.

(This is the 5th part of a 7 part series.  I invite you to look back at the previous blogs and join me in future blogs about the relevancy of the five fold to the 21st Century Church.)