There is a reason that the average church has 20% or less of the members serving in ministry. Church leaders create too many hurdles. Often this is unintentional, but it warrants our attention. Is it possible that we are making ministry service difficult for most believers? There are four particular hurdles that I want to focus on this week: the belief hurdle, the clergy hurdle, the “big scary job” hurdle, and the blindfold hurdle.
The belief hurdle is major and foundational. Many people do not serve in their churches because they misunderstand the theology of “the call of God.” Since a person will act upon what he or she believes, the lack of involvement shows that, fundamentally, there is a problem in the theology department. The call to salvation is also and simultaneously a call of God to serve Him.
The clergy hurdle is one that is gaining some attention in the church today, especially within the missional movement. Honestly, I hate the terms clergy and laity. God did not create a caste system in ministry. Many pastors have felt the pressure to be everything and do everything in the church. Likewise, many members have expected the “professionals” to perform, creating a spectator role in the church. There is no room within the New Testament for any of this thinking.
Sometimes I feel like people are avoiding me at church. In the last six years in my current ministry position, I have had the privilege of recruiting a multitude of people to various ministry areas. Yet, often I am asking people to take on a high-responsibility, effort-intensive tasks. I call these “big scary” jobs. Without orientation and training prior to the infamous “meeting in my office,” most people would run fast and furious in the opposite direction.
Being blindfolded before smacking a piñata can be fun (and dangerous). But blindfolding people in ministry has grave potential. When church leaders fail to communicate the eternal impact of a person’s ministry efforts, people may not see that they are making a difference in the lives of others. People want to be involved in something that is life-changing. They want to make the best investment of their time. If they do not see the difference they are making, they will look for another avenue somewhere else.
Hurdle events are great Olympic sports, but terrible ministry obstacles. The job of church leaders is to remove as many as possible, not create them. Each day this week, we will look at these hurdles individually and discuss ways to eliminate these, or avoid them in the first place.
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Also you may want to view past topics on volunteer ministry by visiting the BiG IdEaS link.