“And Christ gave gifts to people–He made some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to go and tell the Good News, and some to have the work of caring for and teaching God’s people. Christ gave those gifts to prepare God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger. This work must continue until we are all joined together in the same faith and in the same knowledge of the Son of God. We must become like a mature person, growing until we become like Christ and have His perfection.” (Ephesians 4:11-13, New Century Version)
I am truly thankful for those men and women of God who labor faithfully in order to bring God’s people to spiritual maturity and equip us to do the work of ministry.
Indeed, it is a blessing to have mature saints in our lives who use their gift to stir up our gift, and prepare us to serve in whatever capacity the Holy Spirit has gifted us.
But unfortunately, there exists a segment of religious leaders who (be it intentionally or unintentionally) misuse their influence and misuse Scripture to keep Christians on ‘house arrest’ (confined to doing approved and assigned “church work” in their church-building and organization) and hinder them from serving in other ways and other places and fulfilling their ministry.
These leaders forbid and discourage Christians from carrying out the work of ministry by saying things like, “God hasn’t released you yet”, “You haven’t been released“, or “You can’t go forth in ministry until I release you.”
With all of this religious jargon about being “released”, you would think that they were talking about convicted criminals being “released” from prison, not born-again Christians serving in ministry.
While these very same Christians are told that “God has not released them yet”, their leaders place them in positions and activities that God did not appoint them to and have nothing to do with their spiritual gift.
This spiritual-mismatching of Christians in ‘ministries’ that are unrelated to their spiritual gifts is done to fulfill the ‘needs’ of the institution, keep them occupied, and prevent them from becoming discontent by giving them the impression that “God is using them.” The truth is that man is using them and holding them back from being used by God.
If God Has Called You, Then You Don’t Need To Wait On Man To “Release” You
Some of you have been called and prompted by the Lord to minister your spiritual gifts, but you were told that you have to “wait for the man or woman of God to release you” into ministry and give you “permission” and their stamp of approval.
Some of you have been told that you aren’t allowed to open up your house for fellowship, worship, or to make disciples in your community, because “you haven’t been released”, “licensed”, or “ordained.”
Some of you have been taught that if God truly called you to preach, teach, serve, or minister, then He would have revealed it to your leader FIRST. Therefore, since your leader claims that “God hasn’t revealed it to them yet”, you are to “sit under” them and “be obedient, humble, submissive, and patient” until “God shows them that it is time to release you.”
If the Lord has gifted you and commanded you to serve in some capacity (especially if He has commanded you REPEATEDLY and sent you confirmations) then you should obey the Lord already and stop waiting FOREVER for a leader to “release” you.
If this applies to you, I am not saying that your leader is unsaved, evil, or false, or that you should be disrespectful, rude, and unkind to them just because God has called you to minister in some way and they are telling you not to.
You can be obedient to the Lord and do what He is telling you to do, and at the same time respectfully disagree with your leader and if they still don’t approve, that’s on them. It is not within your control nor is it your responsibility to make everyone understand your walk with God and the work He has given you to do.
I am quite sure that your leader wouldn’t stop preaching and teaching just because someone told them that “God hasn’t released them yet” or “God hasn’t shown them that He called your leader to do x, y, z.”
Does This Mean That We Don’t Have To Be Accountable To Anyone?
I am definitely not saying that we shouldn’t seek prayer, counsel, and support from fellow Believers (especially mature experienced saints).
There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors and the prayers of the righteous are very effective. We definitely need prayer and wisdom before carrying out a work that we believe God has called us to.
Yes, we are ultimately accountable to the Lord first and foremost. But the Lord also holds us accountable through sisters and brothers in the Faith. So we should always remain open and receptive to the insight and instruction of brethren.
If we are not prepared or spiritually-fit for a task, then we should be humble and listen to the Lord’s warnings whether He is speaking to us directly by the Holy Spirit, through Scripture, or through brethren.
The qualifications of an elder/shepherd in Scripture are pretty clear (1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5:1-3, Titus 1:6-9). If you do not possess these qualifications, then you are not qualified and should not aspire to this service.
But if you want to be an elder/shepherd anyway, do not ignore the valid concerns of leaders who rightly warn you that you are not qualified and claim that you are “obeying God and not man.” That is pride and religious ambition speaking, not “obedience to God.”
Having zeal without knowledge, zeal without the qualifications, and zeal without counting the cost can damage yourself and others.
Make sure that you have prayed about it first, consulted the Holy Scriptures, and consulted with brethren for prayer, insight, and counsel.
The bottom line: Don’t be a loose cannon. But do obey the Lord AND be accountable if you ARE qualified and God is repeatedly prompting you to carry out the work of ministry — even if some may believe that “God hasn’t released you yet.”
Why Do Some Leaders Hold Christians Back From Serving?
There are a few reasons why:
Control: Some religious leaders are controlling for whatever reason. The idea of people ministering outside of their control and influence unsettles them, because they feel the need to dictate and micromanage ministry and control other people’s spiritual gifts.
Religious leaders can only provide guidance, counsel, instruction and give their opinion. But they have no authority from God to control all ministerial activities and confine people to assigned ‘church work’ within their organization.
Fear: Some religious leaders are afraid of what might happen if Christians take on a more active role in the priesthood of all Believers. They say that they want people to ‘step up’ and serve, but at the same time, they are scared of God’s people stepping out in faith and serving in different ways and different places.
Insecurity: Some religious leaders are insecure. They derive their sense of security from their special status as “THE” man of God. If other people begin ministering, they may lose their special status and influence. They don’t want anyone to ‘surpass’ them in ministry, become “more successful” than them, and start thinking that they know more than them. This makes them feel insecure.
Unbelief: Some religious leaders lack faith in God’s ability to lead and guide us in our spiritual gifts. They talk about faith, trusting God, and the Holy Spirit, but they really don’t trust God to lead and teach His people how to minister. They seem to think that they can do a better job than the Holy Spirit.
Distrust: Some religious leaders don’t trust God’s people to serve responsibly and Biblically. They want people to trust their leadership, but they don’t trust God’s people. It’s sad, but some religious leaders have a very low view of the people they serve. They think that Christians who aren’t leaders are less competent than they are.
Other reasons are jealousy, financial gain, false ideas about leadership and ministry, and a competitive mentality.
It breaks my heart to see men of God who have been called to preach, but they are relegated to ‘church work’ and told not to preach outside of the church-building until their leader “releases them.”
It breaks my heart to see saints who want to open up their homes for fellowship, worship and discipleship — but they are told to bring people to the church-building instead and not to minister in their homes because they have not been “ordained”, “licensed”, or “given permission” by leadership to minister in their own homes.
It breaks my heart to know that God has called saints to do greater works through dreams, visions, prayers, and confirmations from other saints — yet they remain paralyzed and scared to minister because a leader hasn’t “released them yet.”
It is time for the body of Christ to rediscover the priesthood of all Believers — a doctrine that is given lip service, but often neglected.
It is time for the body of Christ to actively serve and reject the control of leaders who suppress their spiritual gifts instead of equipping them.
Fellowship is not a spectator sport, or a time to just sit, watch, clap, sing, and get tingly feelings — but a time to get equipped so that we can GO OUT and fulfill the work of Christ.
If your church is more of a religious daycare center where people are entertained, babysat and kept busy with religious activities than a place where saints are matured and equipped — you might want to pray, seek the Lord, and evaluate.
Even in the secular educational system (which we know has its problems), students are expected to grow, develop, and get educated and equipped to the point that they graduate and use their skills in the real world. But Churchianity seems to be a “school” where the students are kept in the same class, in the same grade level, and rarely graduate to put their knowledge and skills to work in the real world. This is not normal.
I remember a woman who bragged that she “sat under” her “pastor” for TWENTY-FIVE years before “being released” into ministry. To me, that is not something to brag about, but something to be sad about.
When Jesus called His disciples to Himself, He anointed them and shortly thereafter sent them OUT to preach. Then 3 years later, Jesus returned to the Father and left them with the instruction to “go into all the world” and fulfill His work.
If Jesus only spent 3 years on earth with His disciples, then why would any leader have someone “sit under” them for TWENTY-FIVE YEARS??
Jesus filled His disciples with the Holy Spirit and trusted them to do His work. Yet some leaders today don’t even trust congregants to hold prayer meetings and Bible study in their house.
Jesus trusted His disciples to spread the Gospel across the Roman Empire, Asia, and into Africa. Yet some leaders today don’t even trust congregants to share the Gospel on a local street corner.
The body of Christ is spiritually-competent to carry out the Lord’s work, not because we think that we are competent in ourselves, but because we are confident in the competence of our LORD in Heaven.
If the Lord gifts you, qualifies you, and tells you to “GO” and man tells you to “STAY” — what will you do? Which voice will you listen to? Who will you obey?
“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“. . . Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.” (Colossians 4:17)
8 thoughts on “Are You Still Waiting To Be “Released” Into Ministry?”
Excellent article and I absolutely love it!
I haven’t heard ministers that I have known say things along the lines of “not releasing [someone] yet”, but I have seen this on TV (of course). What I have seen in person is a “prophet” and “prophetess” go to someone and tell them to tell them what their calling is, but then tell them to wait because they weren’t released yet. Could have easily been a pastor & prophet tag–team thing, sometimes these things are planned out LOL.
Restraining someone because of ordination was an interesting method that I now realize was used in the Pentecostal assembly I was raised in. In the Assemblies of God, you can’t lead a congregation without being ordained (graduating from an Assemblies of God university and/or passing a test that covers Biblical beliefs and agree to the denominational creed). I think that this is the same with most denominations. In Assemblies of God, I remember it changing the way that a speaker was perceived.
The different reasons that you gave for leaders’ behaviors was interesting. It helped me recognize certain behaviors and characteristics of former leaders I knew, and even helped me view the leadership–congregant relationship in a healthier way. I must admit that I have had a few incorrect thoughts about others in the different times that I have helped lead at youth and young adult groups–mainly in the distrust category.
I liked your analogy of the “babysitting” church to the public school system. I have been working at the local district, and am just amazed at how much time is being wasted in classrooms and how much time, resource, and effort is being spend on non-academic, social events and fundraising. Kids are not be challenged enough–there is a reason why we are 17th in the world right now. It also doesn’t help how every behavior or societal problem that a child has is diagnosed as a disease, and discipline is severely lacking.
Hey Kendra! I appreciate your feedback. There’s an interesting video on Youtube of a religious leader named “Bishop” Liston Page Jr. He was a guest speaker at a ‘holy’ convocation, and during his message, he yelled “who are you to tell me that God called you to preach!?.” Then he said that if God calls you to preach, then He will reveal it to your leaders first and you are not to “circumvent a principle that God has put in the earth” (I guess the man-made ‘principle’ that you are not allowed to preach unless your leader releases you). This is just one example of many of this sort of control that some religious leaders have over ministerial activities. I have also experienced it up close and in person (at a Charismatic Pentecostal institution). I do understand that some religious leaders and denominational organizations operate this way in an attempt to protect the people from unqualified men and women who seek to enter the eldership/pastoral ministry. But in some cases, their efforts at vetting, training, and preparing people for ‘ministry’ end up hindering saints from serving the Lord in whatever capacity He has gifted/appointed them to.
And your observations about the public school system are interesting. My husband and I pulled our son out of public school a few years ago, and I am now teaching him at home. I’m not one of those people who believes that homeschool is an academic utopia and that everyone HAS to homeschool or you aren’t a good parent/Christian. We just believe that it is the best format to meet our son’s intellectual needs and propel his academic development. I will not sit here and cast all of the blame on the public school system for our son’s academic crisis, but I do take issue with the fact that they were going to push him forward into the next grade even though he was failing. He was also being graded on a curve, which wasn’t helpful because he didn’t understand the material. I know that some schools have a lower standard and lower expectations for black students (which I believe is racist and borderline eugenics), and I wonder if this was the case at his previous school.
Now that he is being homeschooled, the expectations and the standard are MUCH higher. It has been challenging, but the challenges are worth it because he has improved in every area (reading and verbal comprehension, fluency, reasoning/critical thinking skills, penmanship, speaking and writing in standard English, thinking for himself, etc). It has been very satisfying and encouraging to observe his progress and see him become more confident academically and overall. Being that he’s about to be a tween soon (and knowing the lure and the dangers of “black youth culture” which tends to be anti-intellectual and cultivate arrested development), it was very important that we got a handle on his academics NOW before it’s too late and equip him mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the dumbed-down foolishness he will surely face in this society and set him on a path to success. The public school system is quick to diagnose children with this and that (especially black children) and treat them like subhuman animals who aren’t capable of paying attention, putting forth effort into academic activities, being prepared and completing their assignments. If immigrants from Africa and Asia can do it, then so can black American children and American born children in general. NO EXCUSES. Let’s get it together. Or at least that’s how we roll lol
The Comments are closed on your last article. I wanted to share how a local church has scripted and pre-recorded a video message , as well as sent letters to all the known church attendees, requesting that they give of there time and money toward a $16,000,000.00 expansion project. In the letter, they were as bold as to plea for the widow’s mite. The same corporation has members that are struggling to pay their mortgages, rent, grocery bills, etc…
Sometimes I get so friggin’ angry, but then I realize these things must needs take place to fill God’s cup of wrath (dregs included).
Hello Scott = ) I extended the amount of time for comments to 60 days. Sixteen million dollars is an exorbitant amount of money for an “expansion project.” What corporation is this? People should be running to the nearest exit.
Another pearl of great price. Thanx sister. I am glad that you combined “elder/shepherd” throughout the entire Bible, there is no office of “Pastor” outlined. It is a man made title after the similitude of the responsibility of an Elder, Deacon, or Bishop. Today’s institutionalized believers don’t even have a clue what those offices are (Biblically), because they only see the Institutional Church (IC) versions at work in the IRS owned, not-for-prophet corporations that pose as churches.
God called me to be an Evangelist. I prayed, and He confirmed. I was overjoyed that God would choose me to do anything for Him. I excitedly told the director of the board (“pastor”), and he was excited too! He began to explain to me all the steps that I would have to go through to become ordained…i.e. classes, overseer gatherings, schmoozing events, elbow rubbing dinners, he went on and on. I immediately received a discernment in my spirit and abruptly chided him, because I knew that that was NOT what God had called me to do. He called me to preach the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the lost people in the world. Unfortunately, I was stalled in the IC for 10 years before I was “released.” (they had a secret board meeting in the which they gave me the ultimatum to stop preaching the Word of God, or leave.) They released me 🙂 lol
I suspect that every IC that is still in operation today, has had the opportunity to repent, and have chosen to remain on their master’s (the IRS) tax exemption role. As we are in the hour of the great exodus. “Come Out of Her My People!” Those that remain, will receive her plagues.
I could spend days sharing all the great revelations that the Lord has given me concerning the times in which we live, the state of the “church” and the principles of business that are portrayed through the IC, But there are lost souls that need to hear the Gospel.
Thank you Scott. What an experience you shared there. It’s interesting how these places tend to operate the same way. And I agree, the contemporary “office of the pastor” (as many people understand it today) isn’t wholly Biblical. It more closely resembles the leadership style of a secular business manager, CEO, motivational speaker, or pagan king/worldly official/political leader.
Comments are now closed.