We are tempted to insert people where we have the most pressing holes. “We need nursery workers. No one showed up for tech!” Filling gaps is a short-term fix that leads to burn out and under-utilizes the spiritual capacity of the Body. It is no better than filling potholes with basketballs, or china plates, or rosebushes. The goal isn’t filling the hole but bridging the gap with a sustainable resource designed for the problem at hand. Take the time to get people where God has appointed them. It will infuse your ministry with a spiritual power and connect volunteers to their ordained purpose. How?
- Know the gifts in your church and who has them. The seven motivational gifts in Romans 12 are equally important but not equally distributed. 30%-40% of your church will have the gift of service. Less than 5% will have the gift of teaching.
- Filter your programs and volunteer opportunities through the gifts. Don’t filter workers based on your programs.
- Create an open document that lists the gifts in connection with places they can be most readily expressed and utilized.
- Get in the habit of helping people discover their spiritual gifts early. Start here. Make it part of your membership/ assimilation process.
- Pray for gifts in connection with your ministry needs not just workers based off your program holes.
- Remember it is your responsibility to help people connect with their divine ministry.
God gives the church the missionaries, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the members for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ… – a paraphrase (Eph 4:11-12)
Look what I read from Psalm 47. Note the highlighted words and then use your imagination to set the stage. What does this look like?
This is loud, screaming, clapping, foot stomping, proclamation that our champion is the best.
Now I get that not all churches have the same worship traditions, cultures, and tones. Some are more somber while others are simply out-of-control. (I mean that in a bad way). Yet, here is a biblical call from a leader of worship, to God’s people, to raise praise for their Champion. And, all churches need this on some regular basis.
- Theological reason– fanatic praise is a fitting response to God’s work. Big God should get big praise, right?!
- Emotional reason– fanatic praise counters weekly set-backs in our lives.
- Social reason– fanatic praise unites strangers. It is the power of common cause.
- Mental reason– fanatic praise reminds us of past victories and future hope.
- Evangelical reason– fanatic praise is inviting to people with no champion.
- Discipleship reason– fanatic praise lets internal truths become external expressions. (You “worshiping”, “in your heart” does nothing for me who is watching the outside, just saying)
Find ways during your weekly gatherings to cultivate a social identity around our victory in Christ. Help people see themselves as loved and saved and chosen. Call them to clap, and shout, and sing, and sound off…to be fanatical. We need reminded that we are going to win. We need to surround ourselves with like-minded losers-made-winners-in-Christ.
Honestly, I’m not a sports fanatic. I’m not a music fanatic. And, reading Psalm 47, I’m not much of a God fanatic. It is hard for me to be that expressive. It’s my introversion. Self-consciousness. Pride. Hosts of things. Maybe there are church leaders that will go slow and take the time to help people like me experience greater intimacy with God and guide me toward a more fanatical faith in a Champion that has never lost a battle!
Some one must see the whole road ahead. Someone must see with a wide angle lens all that God commands and expects. Covering our gaze to the more difficult parts of the path is easy and common. But, it leads to missed opportunities and broken lives. Just because a path is challenging does not mean it is not the right road, the path that must be taken! Some one in the church family must be the one to see. Oh, sure, there may be more than one but there must be at least one. Who ever is navigating must see out a clean windshield but they must also see out of the whole windshield.
- Check your sides. Full knowledge of God’s commands lets you see what might be coming from the left and right.
- Note your mirrors. Full knowledge of God’s commands lets you know how to read the past.
- Mind your map. Full of knowledge of God’s commands lets you navigate the better course for you and your passengers.
- Limit distractions. Full of knowledge of God’s commands enables you to cut out the clatter that might pull your attention off course.
A note to seers and leaders, prophets and kings: Rely on the gifts around you. It is one thing to see where to go and it is another to get people there. Both roles are important and both are full time responsibilities. It is hard to turn the wheel and read the map at the same time.
Beware incongruence, spending great wealth on that of little worth. There is a Dutch proverb, “What is heaviest must weigh heaviest.” So, what is heaviest? What should weigh most? What should take the most energy and time and money? As you have poured over the Bible and thought about the work of the church, where should she spend most of her time? What gives her the greatest return on investment? According to Jesus the list is very short and demands very simple.
Audit your faith, how you spend your wealth of time and do the same for your church. Compare that list with what you know God has said is worth the most. See, there it is, in-congruence. And, you aren’t surprised to find it I bet. So, to re-align…
- Decide you are only going to work for Jesus.
- Say “No” more and “yes” less.
- Let go of your obsession with feeling needed.
- Delegate lesser tasks even when you can do them better.
- Repeat 1-4 often!
“You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Choose what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.” – Jesus speaking to Martha, you, and me. (Luke 10:38-42)
I just put a pot of chili on. The key to good chilli, or good anything, is not just having the right ingredients but having the right ingredients in the right proportions. Too much garlic or chili powder and not enough salt or thyme and the chili will not taste well. Ingredients can be present but not balanced. Don and Katie Fortune note this composition of spiritual gifts in Christians based on a ten year study;
12% are “perceivers”. They declare God’s Word.
17% are “servers”. They render practical service to others.
6% are “teachers”. They research and teach the Bible.
16% are “exhorters”. They encourage personal progress in others.
6% are “givers”. They share material assistance.
13% are “administrators”. They give leadership and direction.
30% are “compassion people”. They provide personal and emotional support.
This gift list is a bird’s eye look at the motivational gifts found in Romans 12:6-8. If you are a church leader, stirring the chili pot, know the gift mix of your church. If you are lacking in one area it might be time to search the cupboards, do a little praying, and activate other church members in their God-given area of ministry. When the balance is right the result is amazing.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, II Corinthians 2:15
The challenge is not to meet people’s needs but to fulfill your ministry. Chasing needs puts you at the will of others. Pursuing ministry makes you submissive to God. Meeting needs is the result of your availability. Ministry is the result of your spiritual gifts. Needs arise when someone calls. Ministry is birthed from your divine calling. Meeting needs often leads to exhaustion, but ministry ends in exhilaration. It isn’t that meeting needs is bad- fulfilling your ministry is best. Unfortunately, many will never experience what God has planned because someone asked them to do something else.
Are you just meeting needs? Have you found your calling?
The disciples found Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next town, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” – Mark 1:37-38