Free Agency or Farm System?

11LOCKERROOMWEB01-articleLargeFor those that know me, they know that I love the game of baseball. I played for 18 years. I played 2 years in college until the Lord called me into full-time vocational ministry. I love the sport. The season is almost over, but the front offices will be busy trying to get their teams ready for the upcoming season. They will be busy with player acquisition and development.

During the off-season, the men at the top are busy figuring out what will make their team better poised for a run at the championship. For some, this involves investing in their farm system. They spend their time developing players and bringing them up to perform at a high level. Other times, however, they are frantically seeking out the best players on the market to bolster their teams. This might include acquiring them either by trades, offering cash options, or giving up later draft picks.

This mindset is the norm for team owners and operators. However, this thought has leaked into our churches. Churches have lost sight of what’s important. Too often, pastors are concerned with achieving high attendance numbers, increased programs, and increased giving. If you’ve been around the church world for any amount of time, you know that some of the largest churches are loaded with programs and high budgets, but they are not always the healthiest.

This leads me to ask the question: What is the goal of your church?


When pastors or leaders are constantly looking for outsiders to bring in at the expense of walking with their people, they not only abandon the biblical mandate of discipleship/leadership development, but they also diminish the image of God that is inherent in the lives of their members.


If your goal is to grow fast, create programs, and jump on the “Fastest Growing Churches in America list,” you might consider bringing in the top free-agents, or you might consider releasing “players” for the sake of adding cap-space for a big-name person.

The easier way is to bring in outsiders. Leaders know individuals who are ready to perform their duties and take their people to the next level. It’s easier because you don’t have to take the time to walk with members to bring them “up-to-speed”.

But is it the best way? Better yet, is it Biblical?

I believe, that the best way to foster the health of the church is by investing in the members and attendees in that local church. This is the model that we see throughout scripture. The goal of the church is to be obedient to the Scriptures. The Bible is full of texts that command that we invest in our people.

Look at what Christ says in the Great Commission,

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”-Matthew 28:16-20

Jesus knew that the spread of the Gospel message would come from those who would submit to His Lordship and would seek to make disciples. Their task was not to make converts, but disciples. This would take time. They were to do this by going, teaching, and baptizing. Their role was to make disciples by teaching them the Word of God. Teaching people the Word of God is not a get-big-quick scheme, but it is the way to expand the kingdom of God.

Kingdom expansion, not building personal empires, should be the goal, and the way in which we see the kingdom expanded, is by making disciples.

Paul says it this way,

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”– 2 Tim. 2:1-2

Paul’s goal for Timothy was that he would not only treasure what he’s seen and heard, but that what he has seen and heard would so grip his heart that he would pour it into the lives of others.

When pastors or leaders are constantly looking for outsiders to bring in at the expense of walking with their people, they not only abandon the biblical mandate of discipleship/leadership development, but they also diminish the image of God that is inherent in the lives of their members.

Everyone is created in the image of God. Furthermore, all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and possess God-given gifts that are valuable to the local church.

Paul attests to this in 2 Cor. 12, when he writes,

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

He also writes in Ephesians 4,

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

Every believer is in possession of God-ordained gifts that are useful for the building up of the local church. When we fail to invest in our members, neglect discipleship, and fail to develop them as dignified members of the local church, we reduce the image of God in their lives.


Paul’s goal for Timothy was that he would not only treasure what he’s seen and heard, but that what he has seen and heard would so grip his heart that he would pour it into the lives of others.


I’m not advocating for only discipling and never bringing on staff. However, I am stating that when we constantly look out at the expense of looking within, we fail to meet the biblical commands of discipleship, leadership development, and diminish the dignity of our members.

So, let us move forward by not focusing on what we lack, but instead look to what has God given us, and begin investing, equipping, and developing our members for the health of the church.

Josh Chambers

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