Overlooking the obvious, Every Member A Minister (EMAM) organizers couldn’t figure out the root causes behind the Hindenburg-ish crash of the six-week campaign.  From all reports, it was more than likely due to one key factor: locked doors.

Do Not Enter

Picking up from last time, Do Not Enter signs on certain areas of ministry and service may not have blinked neon at Boulder Creek Community, but they were certainly posted in living Technicolor.  Said one observer, “Certain people regarded certain ministries as their personal property.  As in, “This is mine, so butt out, buster!”

Some roles were also restricted by age and gender.  For example, women with strong gifting in leadership, preaching and teaching were restricted to expression/use within a few “approved” categories (another discussion for another time).

The result?  Because the “rank and file” weren’t free to pursue their calling or gifting unless it fit into a preconceived ministry “box” approved by the pastor and board, no perceptible shift in the corporate culture was made.  Nada.  No one new “got into” ministry because there was either no “appropriate” venue available, or because people who were “in the way” stayed there, “like road blocks.”

Paid vs. Passion?

How often have you seen this sort of scenario played out in the IC?  The institutional structure that conditions people to be passive spectators seems surprised when people do exactly what they’ve been trained to do: warm a pew every Sunday and leave “ministry” to the paid professionals.

Is this why so many churches keep adding new “programming” to the ala carte menu?  This didn’t work, so let’s try that.  That didn’t work, so let’s try this.  (Our friend Shawn describes this as “Baskin Robbins church” – as in, “what’s this month’s flavor?”)  Could it be that the “main culprit” behind bored, listless, unengaged believers isn’t a lack of motivation or commitment, but the model within which they’re expected to “perform,” the instructional hoops through which they’re expected to jump?


“They didn’t get it,” said Myles (pseudonym by request), a veteran Sunday school teacher.  “They overlooked the obvious.  It was almost like an Us vs. Them mentality.  The pastor and board needed to get out of the way for EMAM to take off and soar.  They didn’t, and it didn’t.  Splat!”

“Why do those guys think that God only works through them?” Jamie commented.  “The Holy Spirit can’t speak to us peons directly, move through us, too?”

“It’s kind of a myopic view of ‘church,’ isn’t it?” Klaus asked rhetorically.

Other observations ran the gamut of, “I wonder what might’ve happened if that exclusive, elitism stuff was replaced by flexibility, creativity and Spirit-led openness?” to “What if the Boulder Creek Old Boys Network got of the way and let God work?” Kyle added that “Boulder Creek is cliquey because leadership is cliquey.  They don’t see it because they’re part of it!”  Jill asked, “What if ministry “ownership” came from the grass roots up, rather than filtering through a top-down hierarchy?”

What if, indeed?