“Welcome to our church, ma’am! You look like you’re breathing? Yes? Then you have met the requirement to serve on our team! You are just what we’re looking for!”
“Hello, sir, do you have a pulse? Yes? Then we can’t wait to introduce you to our 3rd-grade boys small group and have you lead them.”
“Nice to meet you, young man! Can you read English? Yes? Then you will be a perfect fit to follow a script and run our audio/video!”
Have you ever been tempted to have an interaction like this? Or, better yet, have you ever recruited someone to your ministry in this way? I can relate! Throughout my ministry years, there have been times when this approach sounded like a pretty good option. I was trying to run a program for kids and that open slot on the Sunday morning volunteer lineup was staring back at me. No time, no energy, no idea, no other possible solution.
From staffing an entire children’s ministry to looking for that last small group leader for your adult classes, I know you relate with those thoughts. The constant pounding wave, the near deafening drum beat of, “The weekend is coming . . . THE WEEKEND IS COMING,” can sometimes leave everything else in a foggy blur.
If we want to reach kids more effectively,
If we want leaders who thrive in ministry,
If we want to eventually end the drum beat,
Then . . .
Instead of desperately finding anyone breathing, anyone with a pulse, or anyone that can just show up (and pass the background check), we must fight to focus on quite another thing!
Our focus should be on the person and not the slot that a person can fill. We must be more concerned about the gifting, skills and calling a volunteer has and not the position and service time they can fill for us!
Volunteers in any organization want to contribute, but if asked to work outside their gifting for very long, they won’t be around in two months, let alone two years. The truth is that some volunteers are just not gifted or called to work with your 4th-grade boys group. Perhaps leading an adult Sunday school class is not what that (otherwise) godly man in your church is gifted to do. That other sweet lady should never be leading a room full of toddlers (that’s a high calling for anyone). What if we (GASP!) actually directed people to other ministries instead of plugging them into ours because it was a better fit for them?
But, I can almost hear you say . . .
“THE WEEKEND IS COMING! How could I ever shift and focus on a leader like that?”
“Who has the time to do this?”
“Ha! Pass a leader to another ministry?!! You must be dreaming.”
I would suggest you start with what you have. Start small. Take a look at who is on your team and start having intentional conversations (maybe even just one a week) around that person’s calling and gifting and interest and spiritual journey. If you change the conversation and start asking “How has God wired you and where do you fit?” you can begin a healthy move in your ministry direction: allowing all people in your church to serve every week in an area that they are gifted and called to be in!
If you begin the process, invite other department leaders in your church to join you in this shift, and ask God to provide for you. I say with confidence and from experience that you WILL shift your ministry, one leader at a time! You can do it! The outcome is WORTH the hard work. Putting people in positions according to where God has gifted them (see Ephesians, chapter 4!) is a step of obedience. It is a win for them and it’s a win for the church! Keep at it!