Deploying New Members in Ministry
As we seek to incorporate members into our church ministries, we must work from two assumptions: (1) God has entrusted to each believer the necessary resources to do ministry, and (2) God has given each church the people necessary to do what he has called the church to do. To discover the untapped resources already within our congregations, we can do a spiritual planning process to help people see how God has especially prepared them for ministry. Three phases make up this process.
Phase One: Inventory
One method to take inventory is to have people attend four sessions with a spiritual planner. The first three sessions focus on a personal-inventory questionnaire that must be completed prior to the first session. Questions include:
1. Describe your personal, spiritual pilgrimage. What led to your conversion to Christ? What formal and informal training has contributed to your growth? What crises have you weathered? What have been your experiences in ministry?
2. Is God cultivating a concern in you for ministry? What specific needs, issues, or situations particularly touch your heart?
3. Up to now, what concrete steps have you taken to address these needs or get involved in these issues?
4. What do you believe is the general purpose of this spiritual-planning process?
5. Identify several things you expect to accomplish through this process.
6. Assume you had all the resources you wanted and needed, and that God would guarantee your success in anything you wanted to do. Describe what your life would look like ten years from now.
7. Identify several resources God has entrusted to you (spiritual gifts, natural talents, acquired skills, experiences).
8. What is your greatest strength?
9. Describe any present barriers keeping you from living up to your God-given potential.
10. Where do you need to grow the most?
Phase Two: Possible Ministries
During the first session, the spiritual planner goes over responses to the questionnaires, asking people to clarify or expand answers. At session two, information on spiritual gifts (based on Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4) is provided. People then take a couple of weeks to work through assigned exercises on spiritual gifts. They talk to other Christians who know them, and think through what they have enjoyed doing or have done well. All these activities move them closer to identifying their spiritual gifts. During the third session, they discuss the homework they have done on spiritual gifts. It appears that most people have more than one spiritual gift often three or four, called their “gift mix.”
Phase Three: Action Plans
At the end of the third session, participants are provided printed descriptions of the church’s ministries. In addition, they are encouraged to imagine ministries they might like to be involved in that do not yet exist. Participants leave session three with two assignments. First, based on what they have learned, they pick three or four ministries they might try. Second, they prepare a written action plan.
The action plan is a specific, written blueprint for spiritual growth and ministry. It lists detailed goals for the next twelve months in seven areas: worship, instruction, fellowship, ministry, stewardship, family and friends, and personal development. That action plan then forms the basis of discussion at session four.
Action plans reflect individual uniqueness. One artistic woman I know presented her written plan in the form of a beautiful collage, while an engineer came in with a four-page computerized printout. Whatever the form, the church can then help the people realize their goals as they channel their energies into ministry.
This article “Deploying New Members in Ministry” by Ron Oertli was excerpted from the book Leadership Handbooks of Practical Theology by James D. Berkley. Published by Baker Books. July 2011. It may be used for study & research purposes only.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes ‘Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.’