We speak often of the great commandment (Matthew 22:37), and the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) but there is also the great charge given by Peter.
I Peter 4:10 says, “Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.” This great charge must be the goal of every church regardless of its size. The goal is to involve every believer in ministry by using their gifts to serve others. The truth is that saved people are supposed to serve people and willingly sacrifice for others.
Dynamic Church Planting International training says, “Every believer should be serving in their local church based on the Bible’s teachings about spiritual gifts. Peter says that everyone’s spiritual gift should be used to serve others. This is a means of imparting God’s grace to people. Paul lists seven different spiritual gifts. Concerning each it says, ‘let him use it: according to the grace given him.’ and ’let him use it in proportion to his faith.’ So, God’s design for the church is that it be led by leaders, taught by teachers, and administrated by administrators, etc.”
DCPI continues, “You must develop a system of inviting, observing, orienting, scheduling, equipping, developing and celebrating those who use their spiritual gifts in the church. As a church grows and attracts new believers, pastors must teach about: the importance of service, the priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:9), and the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts. The process of placing people into ministry can be quite simple. This is a key component of a discipleship process.” The church has enough spectators and must continue to provide opportunities to serve.
Here are some ways to enlist volunteersand you can begin by listing ministry needs and sharing them with your people.
- Consider publishing a list of serving opportunities and spiritual gifts. You could also preach a series of messages about serving and spiritual gifts. Then develop a way to invite people to sign up for a ministry that appeals to them. Consider offering a class about spiritual gifts and giveeach student a spiritual gifts test to help them discern where they might best be able to be a blessing to their church.
- Pray just like Jesus instructed us in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Your first prayer should be, “Lord, who should I invite to serve in this particular area?” Before you approach someone about serving, ask God to prepare their heart and purify your motives. Your invitation should be based on a desire to see people find a fulfilling role in your church. You are inviting them to fulfill God’s agenda and purpose in their lives.
- Look for people who seem to be a perfect fit for a specific need. Identify a need and then as you pray look for the right person to invite to meet that need. You desire to find the right person serving in the right place, in the right way, and at the right time. Look for people who are not currently serving and you believe might be interested in that particular area. Offer them an opportunity to observe before they have to commit to a ministry team. See this “first serve” as a way for them to kick the tires and see if this is a ministry fit for them.
- Cast vision for the importance of different ministries by emphasizing the benefits of their service. Show them how their ministry will benefit the recipients of it and how their service will benefit the whole church. Also, show them how their ministry will benefit them by being a blessing to them andhow their ministry will delight God. Offer them an opportunity to observe. Find ways people can observe a ministry before they commit to a ministry team and make sure they have a good time when they do check it out.
- You will want to debrief their experience within 48 hours. Once you have invited them, arrange for the potential volunteer to accompany one of the most enthusiastic and best members of that particular ministry team. First impressions last! You want the potential volunteer to have a good time so they will want to join the team. Discuss how they think the experience went. Give the new volunteer a short-term commitment initially (for three months or so) to ensure that the commitment is doable.
- Do background checks and provide for them an orientation. Make sure you use a service that will provide background checks with official documentation. Barnabas vouched for Saul (who later became the Apostle Paul) when he wanted to join the church in Jerusalem. (Acts 9:26, 27) The twelve apostles instructed the church to choose “seven men of good repute.” (Acts 6:3) If they will be serving with children in any capacity this is especially important. Do not over look this important step in the ministry placement system.
- Remember that all people who volunteer should have an orientation. They should never be thrown into the ministry unprepared. Ideally, new volunteers will be given good job descriptions. Those will include what is expected of them: when, where, for how long, etc. The orientation should also include the ministry’s purpose and values. People are waiting on someone to ask them to help. Most people want to do a good work and that is why you must develop a system that shows how to ask, when to ask, and who should ask.
A great big thank you to Dynamic Planting International and their training materials New Church Dynamics from which this article was adapted. This training is worth attending for any size church and will be offered May 21-23 at the BMA of Texas offices in Waxahachie, TX. If interested in attending let me know!