by Cadet Scott Swires
Once upon a time there was a local gardening
coop. A wise
investor saw their potential and not only supplied the land,
but also supplied everything else needed for a thriving local
produce spot. It took off. A rival investor was jealous of
their success. They decided to woo and win over the coop to
capture control of the market. The two models were clearly
opposed to each other. One seeking success by giving power,
while the other focusing on consolidating power.
God giving Adam and Eve authority in the Garden seems
risky. Even today, God’s strategy of directly empowering His
people makes leaders nervous.
God’s management strategy was lost in the
church as it grew older. A system of orthodoxy slowly took
power and responsibility from members of local fellowships and
began to give it to a select few deemed priests. This could
even be seen in the physical layouts of the churches, an
architectural separation that is still seen today. As we
celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we
celebrate Martin Luther’s reforming of this system by
declaring the priesthood of all believers. As Luther
encountered verses such as 1 Peter 2:9, he began to flatten
the ladder of undivine ascent and eliminated the priestly
middle man, declaring all could access God’s grace directly.
The emphasis that everyone has a ministry is not about
guaranteeing everyone a participation trophy— it is a strategy
for growing God’s kingdom in the world today by sowing grace.
Jesus, Himself, flattened the hierarchical structure of the
day by empowering twelve unappealing men that looked at times
more like a Monty Python skit than world changers. The world
is a big place and everyone is needed if we are to tend our
garden of influence.
The idea of empowering everyone in an
organization is recognized by noteworthy businesses today.
Pixar is one example. Its leaders have intentionally
cultivated an atmosphere where every opinion is seen as
critical to success. Ed Catmull explains in Creativity Inc.
how they strive to maintain their emphasis on hearing
everyone’s voice and admits that it has its risks. Employees
need to be taught how to give feedback, matured in candor, and
given the opportunity to make mistakes. Catmull is very clear
that mistakes are an aspect of healthy growth. Many groups
fear the very thing Pixar finds essential— its people.
It makes sense that the Reformers would lead
to the empowering of everyone. The Booths embraced what the
priesthood of all believers meant by placing ministries in the
hands of drunks and prostitutes.
William and Catherine worked their garden. The
testimonies of Lawley, Joe the Turk, Brengle, Shirley, and
many soldiers in that day confirm that people are a wise
investment. If the calling of the church is not just about the
church, every person on earth, or stewarding nations, but the
entire cosmos, then everyone’s ministry of grace is vital to
the salvation war.