No one leads by accident. The words intentionality, strategy, vision, and mentoring relationships are frequently used in the leadership realm. Likewise, few people “accidentally” fall into the right ministry position in a church. God has called church leaders to guide, encourage, and train His people for ministry. People want to be asked to serve.
A year ago, I conducted a survey in my church on the volunteer ministry. Prior to the survey, many of the church leaders had expressed some frustration with commitments of the church members. It seemed that we were operating on the Pareto Principle, where 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Of members who were not involved in ministry, one-third stated that their primary reason was “I have not been asked.”
How could our church of 400 fail to reach out to anyone with our 90,000 ministry positions? To the leadership, it seemed like we were begging people to serve and that the people who were serving were “burned out.” However, only 7% stated that they were overcommitted. The perception of the leadership (myself included) was wrong. Our problem was not with apathy, but with intentionality. Why were we reluctant to ask people to serve?
Over the last seventeen years of ministry experiences, I have observed just a few pastors and church leaders (deacons, teachers, ministry coordinators) who have passionately sought to equip the believers in Christ for ministry. Others have mentored a few people here and there. But most have relegated the recruitment responsibility to a nominating committee or left it up to the members to find their own place of ministry in the church.
The shift from this highly relational model is discouraging, considering the intentionality displayed by some great leaders in the Bible. Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, and especially our Lord Jesus gave an amazing pattern of life investment. Their time was consumed by the equipping ministry—and it was right on target.
Paul did not ask Timothy what the young man wanted to do in ministry or hand him a personality test. Paul had such a strong relationship with Timothy that Paul could gently guide him, as the Holy Spirit directed both the leader and the apprentice.
Let’s suppose there is a pastor reading this blog post and thinking “How can I possibly get to know all 200 members of my church on this deep of a level, spending enough time with each individual to be able to offer this guidance?” As a word of encouragement, let me say, you are not called to mentor every member of your church (unless you have fewer than 12 members). But pastors can (and should) mentor those who can give Spirit-led guidance to others.
This is the instruction that Paul gave to Timothy: “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) Believers, ones whose lives have been changed by Christ, have a God-given desire to serve. It is the responsibility of church leaders to help them discover and effectively use their gifts to edify the church through service.
This post begins a five part series that will examine each of these points that “A Church Member” wants his leadership to know. If you are not a subscriber to this blog, click on the subscription link on the sidebar to insure that you do not miss a post.
Read the introduction to this series:
New to the “Spirit-led Connecting” Blog? Check out the previous posts, categorically organized on BiG IDEaS!