We see it in churches of all sizes, in all denominations, all across the nation. A small part of the church membership is active and engaged while most others sit idly by, attending weekend services and getting involved in little beyond that. Why does this happen? How can we get others involved? What will motivate them to serve? How can we help them find their place?
A real possibility is that many people simply do not know where to start getting involved. They don’t know how their gifts and abilities match up with the volunteer opportunities that may be available. It can all seem a bit overwhelming. It is our job as church leaders to help them. In fact, something as simple as a road map to guide them on their way could prove beneficial.
This road map could include the four intentional steps that will help move your church members toward more active involvement.
- Help them to UNDERSTAND. Help them to understand themselves. This includes learning some theology of how God created them and others. Also, it includes using a spiritual gifts inventory to suggest some good ministry fits. Guide them to an understanding of how God loves those around them and wants their obedience in helping point people toward Jesus. Help them to understand what it looks like to have a passion for those who don’t know Jesus and to be intentional about building relationships with them.
- Help them to learn to ENGAGE. Teach them to learn to see opportunities and develop a willingness to respond. Teach them the skills needed to engage with others effectively. Help them learn how to be genuinely authentic in engaging in spiritual conversations with people. Encourage them to develop the courage to step up and get involved in a situation or conversation in which they normally would be an observer.
- Help them to EXPLORE. Sometimes it takes some exploration and experimentation to find a good fit for service in the body of Christ. A willingness to try new opportunities for ministry and service are key to success here. Allow short-term commitments to ministries and keep expectations reasonable. Create opportunities for people to explore areas their gifts inventory indicates may be a good fit for them but also to try out areas that they may not have thought of trying before. Perspective is important in this phase. Ultimately, finding what is not their fit is not a failure, but instead is part of the successful process of finding what is their fit. Keep trying and communicating with the person as you both seek to refine the process to find their best place to fit.
- Help them to learn to LET GO. Letting go of the burden of responsibility for the outcomes of their ministry is an important step. Fear of failure can be a powerful deterrent to getting involved in the first place. God calls us to obedience, not to the production of certain outcomes. We serve faithfully; God takes care of outcomes. People need to know this. The very act of serving and having a ministry is our act of worship.
Finding the right ministry and getting involved will not be an overnight venture. It can take a long time and a lot of intentional effort to help move people along this pathway. Inertia is sometimes hard to overcome. Some may already have a sense of what they are good at but simply don’t know how to put those gifting to work. Others may have had bad experiences and are hesitant to try again. Each one is different. Some just need the first opportunity and will begin to blossom quickly. Others will take time and need quite a bit of encouragement. But just for a minute, imagine how different your church would be if even 10% more people got actively involved and found their place in the body of Christ. Wouldn’t it be worth the effort?