Certainly there are wonderful people who come to church and are involved in leadership. Yet perhaps you’ve noticed that some of the most talented and most accomplished people and leaders in your church attend very infrequently and don’t volunteer or lead at all.
What’s going on there? Why do some of the best people avoid church and avoid leading in the church? You could write them off as immature Christians and not leadership material. That might be the easy answer but it wouldn’t be the best answer.
Have you ever asked them? (Do you really want to know?)
Maybe you have a hunch about what they would say and so you avoid the obvious questions.
You might sense that some of your existing leaders turn their nose up at smart talented people and chase them off. Maybe because you have seen it. You might also sense that things are kind of stuck in a rut and not much is happening. So you really don’t want someone to point that out as a reason why they aren’t there.
Sure, mission and ministry are always worth the time and effort. Yet let’s be honest. If you have been doing the same thing year after year with no real sense of making a difference together, it’s no wonder some of the best people put their time in somewhere else.
For most people and especially for those who are busy and talented, they want to know what they are getting involved in. They want to make a difference when choosing how they will spend their time. They don’t want to waste time being dragged down by negative Nancy’s or demeaning Dans.
That means your church needs to make an intentional effort to fulfill its purpose. What are you doing that is making a difference for someone? Where are you going? What is the vision and what has been the track record to get you there?
Most people don’t want to jump on board a sinking ship. Most people want to be a part of a winning team. True, they may not be in a mature spiritual place to recognize it when they see it but a quick look at your web site or your bulletin announcements should demonstrate what your church is doing to serve people in the name of Jesus. It should be fairly obvious what you as a ministry get excited about and where you are stewarding your efforts.
Ok, so what if your church is kind of small or old or otherwise not so busy knocking it out of the park? What can you do to move in this direction and engage those talented people who have written you off in the past?
- Even if it just you, pick one small thing and get it done. Prayer vigil, homeless meals, volunteering at a community event, collecting food and taking it to the local food bank. There are lots of one-off choices. Sure Word and sacrament are the foundational menu items of what you do. Yet the point is to get off your duff and do something inspired by the means of grace. Then afterward, tell the story, show the pictures, including those who have benefited from your efforts.
- Even better, get one or two others to help accomplish something positive. Change the oil for a widow, beautify the outside of the church or the local neighborhood. Gather clothing for the local shelter. Tell the story, show the pictures, explain how this fits into the ministry of Jesus.
- Think beyond yourselves. Figure out how you can be salt and light in the community. Be mentors at the local elementary school, provide weekend meals to the local school for those less fortunate. Get to know the people there and pray for them and provide lunch or snacks once or more a week.
- Once you’ve started to see some movement and momentum, then convene a vision process. Work through with many from the congregation who you are with your gifts and strengths, what God wants from your study of scripture and compare both with what the community needs. Then where those three intersect, prayerfully decide how you will impact the community for Jesus. Put it in writing. Call it your vision or purpose and live that out intentionally.
- Along the way, share multiple testimonies or temple talk of the lay people who are involved in the ministry of vision and tell the story of how they are living into it. Share it on facebook, send the link to all the members. Then when the smart, accomplished but delinquent members show up for a baptism, wedding, funeral, Christmas or Easter - also tell the story. Tell them you miss them and think they would inspire so many if they came and were involved.
- Keep praying and talking. You will see the lives of many changed.
Rev. Scott Gress is believes in Growing People for Ministry by focussing on leadership, discipleship and teamwork. Contact Scott if you are interested in him working with you or your church. A free 30 minutes sample session is available to explore how you might work best together. The Coaching Leader Podcast is also available on iTunes and his YouTube page. You can contact Scott through email email@example.com or his blog page scottgress.com or at 561-542-4472
"Growing People for Ministry" Leadership + Discipleship + Teamwork
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