Steinbron, Melvin J. The Lay Driven Church. Regal Publishing Company, 1997.
By guest blogger Lois Page
There have been those to say, “Laypeople do not get involved in the church because they are lazy.” Author Melvin J. Steinbron, demolishes that theory with his practical guide of involving lay people through purpose, motivation and direction. He tells how to make ministry more effective by getting more of the congregation involved in the work of the church. Dr. Steinbron’s principles are ministry-tested, biblical ideas that have assisted hundreds of churches around the world with shifting laity involvement from a neutral gear to an overdrive gear.
The book is divided into three parts to include an appendix of useful activity labs for training. Parts 1 is titled “What Kind of Church Does It Take?” and consist of seven chapters. These chapters speaks to the various types of church which are in operation today whether they are needs based, gift based or egalitarian. Steinbron feels that all churches must exist with a mission from the great commission and must contain some aspect of needs-consciousness and gift-orientation to be ministry balanced.
To obtain this, the church must develop a Lay Pastors Ministry, which is a system of congregational care by laypeople. Dr. Steinbron shares from a previous book of his titled, Can the Pastor Do It Alone?, a central theme for memorization in the form of an acronym. The acronym is PACE. The acronym keeps before the lay their mission as lay pastors.
Often churches find themselves stuck doing the same thing for years. They are stuck in the traditional way of “doing” church and are struggling. Many churches are in a survival mode and are preoccupied with institutional maintenance, as stated by Dr. Steinbron. However, church congregations need to be reinvented not through polishing up but through doing things differently. Over the next century churches that will thrive are those, which become “pastoral” or those that will give attention to the needs of the people. This is an important decision of the church to shift the focus of the church from the ministry of clergy to the ministry of laity.
God has provided gifts to the body of Christ for the purpose of ministry. The church must understand that the differences between laity and clergy are not in order, but in their function thereby allowing laity to utilize their God given gifting for ministry. In releasing the power of laity by giving ministry back to them, the church is releasing a new power in the clergy by restoring the clergy’s function of equipping the laity to do the ministry.
Part II of the book is titled, What Kind of People Does It Take? This part consist of four chapters and speaks to the fact that a successful church must have a pastor with vision, action and support; mature leaders that own ministry through discovering of gifted area, growing spiritually and to be ready for whatever they may be called upon to do. The pastor must commence through the casting of the vision, which should unite and not divide the church. The “vision channels energies by enabling everyone to point the same direction.” (127)
Part is titled, “What Kind of Effort Does It Take? and answers questions on how does one pass the ministry on to others after year of traditionalism in church? Dr. Steinbron concludes that it takes the efforts of all to accomplish the great task of church growth. Paul Gilbert of Desert Hope Wesleyan Church in Phoenix, Arizona stated in the book that, “A church cannot grow past its ability to care for people; and the pastoral care through laypeople has a causal effect upon the growth.” Steinbron concludes in summarizing that the cost of giving the ministry to people must be well defined through goals and celebrations of accomplishments; will include many barriers; and factors of time, patience, and perseverance must be addressed for success.