Google Apps - Broadening the Servant Base

One of the things that I'm excited to share with potential clients is Google Apps. This free service from Google fits the church in a great way. It provides a collection of tools for ministry that address the needs of a largely volunteer and distributed "work force". Anyone with an Internet connection can have a church email account, calendar and collaborate on documents.

In the past, leading a church has meant a lot of work bringing people together. A lot of the burden has fallen to the central church staff, but the future holds something more collaborative.

As tools become available to allow people to be connected over distances and these tools become increasingly a part of our lives, the body of Christ will have the opportunity to distribute responsibility for the care of members, programs and anything else to volunteers. People who haven't been able to serve in the church because they couldn't schedule weekly evening meetings or had kid's soccer games on Saturday will still be able to be active in serving the larger community. By giving more opportunity to serve in the church, the church community will have opportunity to grow in many ways. In the end, it all leads to a healthier church.

I should be clear at this point that with the benefits come liabilities. We haven't, as a culture, learned to appropriately balance all this availability. We'll still have people who will over-commit themselves and may even have people that will put hours at work into service to the church. These things should not be ignored, but rather recognized and planned for. "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48b)

I've begun to wonder if full-time church leadership isn't headed towards an even stronger role of discipleship as they have the opportunity to share the more hands-on elements of traditional pastoral responsibility. Perhaps the pastors of the future will invest heavily in a few so that those few can re-invest in the membership rather than being directly responsible for all these members. Some churches already operate in this manner, it should be interesting to see how our church culture adjusts.