by Nina Schmidgall
As leaders, it is important that we are convinced that strategic service is truly an opportunity to be shareholders in the work God is doing through the church. As long as we are simply trying to fill holes, we will miss the opportunity to maximize the gifts in people.
Located in the heart of urban and transient Washington, DC, National Community Church is made up of 60 percent single young professionals moving in and out of the city at a jaw dropping pace. Our leadership must manage an overwhelming rate of turnover, as 40 percent of the church is new each year. Our leadership is very intentional to ensure every person is plugged into a ministry and a small group as quickly as possible.
With our turnover, it can be very easy to recruit to the need rather than to the vision. Strategic service is about a commitment to communicating the vision of service. We want to develop service-minded hearts in people so that they will continue to be passionate about serving at any stage of life.
The reasons people GET involved with ministry are usually very different from the reasons they STAY involved. If we have coaxed people into service without inviting them into the vision, their time serving will be brief. It is important to be strategic, drawing people into the vision and encouraging them to serve in their place of gifting.
There can be a hesitancy to get involved in service if it feels like it is an eternal commitment. We are intentional to provide entry and exit points into our ministries so folks can try different hats, grow in the gifts, and discover their best fit. We ask our teams to serve on a semester basis. This provides concentrated recruiting periods but also ensures we have a level of commitment. Amazingly, our teams tend to hang with us much longer than the initial commitment period. Allowing for volunteers to grow and try many service opportunities develops a heart for life-long involvement.
While we want to see our whole church body committed to serve, we are very intentional to see the young people in our church family develop a passion for service. We are strategic to give opportunities for kids to use their gifts to serve others. We invite our children to participate in missions giving. This last year, our kids collected change for a ministry of street kids in Ethiopia. We encourage families to support missions teams, talking with their kids about the projects and partnering to meet needs.
The leadership of our youth ministry is very intentional to have students serving alongside adults in the church. Rather than having their own outreach or community service projects, our youth join the rest of the congregation for our monthly service day. Rather than embarking on a student-only missions trip, our youth sign up for the same missions trips available to adults in our congregation. They serve alongside adults in the same projects, providing the opportunity for community and mentorship along with service.
We also realize that people tend to serve most passionately when they are able to serve in an area that God has awakened in their own heart. As a church, we dream about “free-market service,” where individuals of all ages have the opportunity to develop service opportunities from the passions already inside of them. We try to create the room and support systems that allow people to use their gifts and respond to the burdens on their own heart.
Our hope is to cast vision for service so that our church family may enjoy ministry, thrive in their passion, grow in their gifts, and want to keep doing it!
Nina serves as director of family ministry at National Community Church in Washington, DC. Nina originally moved from California to the nation’s capital to work for the U.S. Congress, serving as a legislative director in the House of Representatives. Writing and directing education and family policy, Nina realized her passion for strengthening the family and the home. Trading public policy for potty policies, she now oversees the family ministry department and children’s programs at NCC’s seven locations. Nina and her husband, Joel, live on Capitol Hill with their two kids: Eloise and Ezekiel. When allowed time-off for good behavior, Nina enjoys dance, photography and bargain shopping.