Lead Pastor of Vintage Church in Raleigh, N.C., Tyler Jones urged a packed auditorium of church leaders on Tuesday to give up the "Superman complex" and start empowering members of their congregations to fulfill the ministry God has given to them.
Jones, who served as the first speaker to kick off the Advance13 national conference on Tuesday at the Duke Energy Center, spoke under the conference's theme "Building Faithful and Effective Churches."
"Are you belittling or demeaning the ministry of other people?" asked Jones in his presentation. "As leaders we must empower every member of our churches to do the ministry that God has given them."
He explained to the audience that pastors are responsible for setting the environment of the church and when they behave in ways that overlook the power of God in the lives of church members, they are effectively limiting the scope of discipleship.
"You're going to have to be humble men and women as you lead. If you are a teacher it's not your word that persuades people. It's the spirit of God that transforms people," said Jones. "If God can use you to teach, He can use anybody to teach," he added.
He warned that when pastors remove the focus of their ministry from God to their own talents they move into the realm of idolatry which is not God's desire for His church.
"You're just a funnel of God's grace," said Jones. "If you're a rock star talent, you've just become a golden calf."
Teaching from 2 Corinthians 4, the pastor noted that sometimes church leaders who are versed in pointing out the faults in others ignore deep internal issues in their own lives. The sins of leaders, he said, are often left unnoticed or sometimes even praised.
Citing the example of a church leader who might be considered a strong go-getter but never worries about the people being hurt as they strive for achievement, he said that was a problem. No one looks at the carnage a leader like this leaves behind.
He said just like an avocado rotting at its core, sooner or later those internal issues will eventually spill over into the ministry of leaders with these issues. Many leaders, he said, struggle with a grandiose sense of self-importance.
"We buy into how our words change people's lives. It's subtle, it's hidden, you begin to think you are more grand than Jesus is," said Jones.
He noted that the solution to ensure that congregations are empowered for ministry is for pastors to make sure that they remain in submission to the Word of God, and guard the content of their heart carefully and apply God's Word with diligence.
The church is at great risk today because "most of us are incompetent or imbeciles when it comes to applying the Gospel to our own hearts," he told the audience before encouraging them that is was necessary for effective ministry.
"If we really want to deal with the heart all it takes is five minutes of silence and an ounce of honesty," he asserted. Jones encouraged the pastors to be humble and allow God's grace to work in their ministries until they come to understand His character. "Discipleship is living out the Gospel. God's primary will for you is to know Him and love Him," not to flourish in this world, he explained.
The conference, which concludes Thursday, is the creation of Advance the Church which was launched three years ago through a partnership of local churches in Raleigh/Durham. Its focus is to catalyze the planting and revitalization of Gospel-centered churches. Thousands of pastors, leaders and church members have attended the events to hear speakers such as John Piper, Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Tim Keller and David Platt.