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From Chapter 8: Mindset Shift #2 – GENERATIONS – Reinforcements Not Replacements

If you whisper the word GenerationS with a strong emphasis on the ‘S’ to any leader in our church, their eyes will immediately light up with respect for you. Let me tell you a secret. In our church, there is another buzzword: Deep Bench. If you also throw in the word Deep Bench in your whisper, that could earn you a standing ovation.

Deep Bench is a sports term. It means that when one team is playing on the court, there are many substitutes sitting on the bench. They can be called on to play anytime. They are not inferior players. They are equally skilled! So the standard does not drop when the crew from the deep bench is called upon. In NBA basketball lore, the Golden State Warriors won championships because of the starting players on court and its quality deep bench of players such as Andre Iguodala. He was called the Sixth Man.

When you have a sixth man, it usually means that your team has incredible depth because the sixth man is usually so talented that he can easily be the starter for most other teams!

In HOGC, we believe in the Deep Bench. We believe in having many sixth men on the bench in every department in our church! That is why we are always training up many reinforcements to serve God in all the departments. The House of God shall have no lack of people serving Him!

THERE ARE MANY BENEFITS TO HAVING A DEEP BENCH

On Fire but Don’t Burn

A Deep Bench in our church helps ensure our faithful people keep being on fire but don’t burn out. The perennial problem with most churches is that once they build one good team they use them every weekend till Jesus Christ comes back! As a Christian in my teenage years, I can almost swear that I saw cobwebs forming under the arm of the only organist our church had! Deep Bench ensures that you don’t have to tap on the same team. Another team can serve as the first team rests and the quality does not drop. (I hear burnt-out leaders heave a sigh of relief here!)

Another HOGC buzzword? Sustainable – which means able to keep at a good pace. We want our crew to serve at a sustainable pace so that nobody burns out. In HOGC, we are volunteer-reliant. So we want to take care of our volunteers. A crew in our church only serves a maximum of twice a month. With the Deep Bench in church, everybody dares to be on fire for Jesus and nobody needs to burn out!

Expand but Don’t Weaken

We don’t want to be a church that is a mile wide but an inch deep. Expansion is good but don’t weaken your church. With a Deep Bench, if the church expands into new grounds (e.g., global, missions) the local church which is home base will always be strong.

The ideal goal HOGC strives for is to have three different teams in every department. One team will be serving at home base, the second team will either be sent out for missions or training new crew and the third team will be doing the most important – resting!

Having a Deep Bench has enabled us to do missions the way we do. In 2018 and 2019, we brought 143 and 212 ministry crew respectively to run the Strong Church Hong Kong Conference. It was like exporting a full conference. Our crew did everything from the ground up. They ran everything from the worship team, sound, operations and media to ushering, security, hosts, décor and even building maintenance! Even the crew who served in Hong Kong were rostered and did not have to serve every session. Both years, we still ran services at home without compromising quality! Expand but don’t weaken!

And back in 2018, we also brought 85 members to Chiang Mai, Thailand, when HOGC had the wonderful opportunity to partner John and Lisa Bevere in running a conference. Again, services at home still ran as per normal while 85 first-team, experienced ministry members were engaged in missions overseas!

I say this not to brag but to stress how important it is to build the Deep Bench in your church, because ultimately it is about people, people, people, which leads me to the next point.

Rest to Recreate

Rest is the next best-loved four-letter word after love. If you can rest your ministry volunteers on a regular basis, I assure you, they will come back refreshed, recharged and will recreate some fresh moves in their department. Take care of your volunteers!

Serve With No Expiry Date

Even as our youths grow up and enter into a new phase of life, they may not be able to serve as much as they want to. Work commitments or parenthood may reduce their ministry scope. But with Deep Bench, there will always be reinforcements. This ensures that the church will always have volunteers serving at a high capacity. More importantly, this also liberates and enables people at different stages of life to serve at a level best suited to them, even if it means serving at a lower capacity. Everyone in HOGC enters into each new demanding ‘grown up’ phase of life with confidence because they know they can continue to serve in church with no expiry date. Deep Bench is about people, people, people.

WHY AREN’T DEEP BENCHES MORE COMMONLY SEEN IN CHURCHES?

The toughest hurdle in people development in church is when those with ministry experience view the new, younger crew as a threat to themselves. From the usher ministry to platform ministry – any ministry you name – you see the veterans holding tight to their post, refusing even an inch of space for the younger people. Why is this so? That is because the older generation fears being replaced! The younger generation is viewed as pests who are so competitive that they would even arm wrestle their grandmothers for a glass of water! Replacement fear is so commonplace that it has become part of the cultural wallpaper in most churches. It is time for churches to have an epochal advance in ministry by having a seismic shift in mindset! GenerationS are Not Replacements but Reinforcements!

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© 2021 Cecilia Chan and/or Heart of God Church. All rights reserved.