Carlton L. Coon, Sr.
For the sake of continuity, let’s begin with review.
1. Each person is intended of God to do something meaningful. To provide a path for greater local church involvement, Fitly Framed is available. You can get this resource free by emailing email@example.com or purchasing a CD at General Conference.
2. Many saints are not involved in their local church. Why? In general: (A) Lack of affirmation for various roles of service. (B) A consumer mentality. (C) No path are provided to discover gifts or put them to use. (D) Insecurity about empowering people. (E) Involving people is hard work.
3. Of those who call you “Pastor,” a high percentage should have a defined role of ministry. (a defined role means it has a job description with responsibilities and expectations.) Of those born again five years ago, how many are now involved? Four years? Three? Two? Last year?
4. Involving people should be intentional, including a systematic approach for new people (and long-time members) to learn about opportunities to serve.
5. Once can create a culture of servant-hood. A new convert will become a great soul-winner. Will one of mine become a Home Missionary? Do I even think that way, or is my vision an ministry defined and limited by my address?
6. Both privately and publicly, say “thank you” to those who are already serving.
“Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; [He whose gift is] practical service, let him give himself to serving; he who teaches, to his teachings; He who exhorts (encourages), to his exhortation; he who contributes, let him do it in simplicity and liberality; he who gives aid and superintends, with zeal and singleness of mind; he who does acts of mercy, with genuine cheerfulness and joyful eagerness” (Rom. 12:6-8, Amplified Version).
A body has component parts—each of which is distinct. Imagine each of the Romans 12 gifts as an operating part of the body (this is inexact and only provided to get you thinking). What if for your local church:
Prophecy is given as an eye by which to perceive.
Service takes hold of practical things—becoming hands.
Teachers are a mind to clarify communication.
Encouragement and direction come through the mouth of exhortation.
Givers extend the reach—serving as arms.
Leadership is the strong shoulders walking the long path and carrying the heavy loads.
Mercy is the heart of the body.
A couple of observations:
– Each thing on the list is vital to the health of a church.
– A lack of any gift operating in the church will reduce the effectiveness of the church—in evangelism, disciple-making, and the care of saints.
– Nobody I’ve ever met, including preachers, does well in all seven of the Romans 12 gifts. Some areas of ministry go lacking if it depended on me getting them done. To employ and affirm the gifts, strengths, and abilities of other people does not mean you are weak—it means you are wise.
What would it be like for a church to have “full employment?” In recent tweet (twitter.com- globalimpactupc), Pastor Jack Cunningham referenced his desire for the church in Chesapeake, Virginia, to have “full employment.” This is exactly what we should all be working toward.
Accountable leadership asks, “Are we faithful stewards of what has been entrusted to us—the talents and the gifts of people?” Leadership finds a way to actively engage all in God’s work—even if the person’s single talent is the ability to make wonderful chocolate chip cookies. Regarding new converts it is an unchanging principle:
Use them or lose them
Do you notice that unused resources (like the buried talent) flow into the hands of people who make full use of every talent of saints? Here are some pre-requisites for full employment:
-Accept, appreciate, validate, and affirm all motivational gifts.
-Believe and act on the concept, “Every man a ministry.”
-Understand, appreciate, and apply delegation, Jesus was a master delegator. (More about “delegation” in a leadership lesson on HM Live.)
– Develop multi-faceted, multiple levels of opportunity for service. As long as every opportunity to serve requires a person to consistently tithe and live every discipline of the church (I believe in both), there are people who will not be used. Home Missionary, never forget: Some good ground produces 30-fold, some 60-fold, and some 100-fold. A farmer does not let the less productive field lie unused—he gains what benefit he can even from the less productive. Question: is it possible that some churches do not grow because the pastor has decided to only work 100-fold fields?
“Full Employment” Benefits the Church
– Morale goes up. People are “up” about what they are “in” on.
– Those actively engaged in using their gifts for God are the people who move to another level of commitment. For example, a man who goes and helps with a Home Missions Church In a Day project generally has an increased dedication to his local church.
“Full Employment” Benefits a Pastor
-It is hard for people to drill a hole in the bottom of a boat when they have both hands busy rowing. Idle people are the worst danger to a unified church.
– It multiplies the pastor’s effectiveness. Having a moderately good personal secretary more than doubles one’s efficiency. Twice I was blessed to have an unpaid part-time secretary serve regular office hours. In each instance, it took a huge amount of “boiler plate” stuff off me. Imagine having even a relatively new convert hand you letters prepared to mail to each those who visited the church last weekend.
– It liberates a pastor to do more meaningful things. Acts 6 begins with a problem: Grecian widows were not being provided for. The solution: involve and empower additional people. When the disciples turned their focus to prayer and teaching, it released others who had gifts of service, compassion, and leadership to do what they could do as well (and perhaps better) than the fellows with the certificates of ordination.
“Full Employment” Benefits Each Believer
-People who serve in the right place are energized by their efforts. People like doing what “fits” them. The word “enthusiasm” is rooted in the Greek words en theos, meaning “God within.” It seems there is more of “God within” when one finds the right place to serve.
– People get to do what they are good at. Pastors, as we practice our gifts(s) and affirm others operating in their gift(s), we make room for the person to grow. Many people would not do well teaching next Wednesday, but some of those who could not teach can make sure the building is secure. Why should I take away their blessing? Every service gives meaning. There are people waiting for an opportunity to serve in things they can excel at.
– Motivational gifts being put to use means the active person feels more alive and fulfilled toward God. Philippians 2:17 says, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy” (NLT). Paul validated faithful service, and he connected it to joy. People actually enjoy serving!
A Workable Process toward “Full Employment”
I’m not given to much “pie in the sky.” I have always been interested in things proven to work. Some ask how we went from low involvement to 62% in Springfield. This may or may not work for you, but the process served us well:
1. A new convert participated in the ten lessons of Take Root and the eleven lessons of Bear Fruit. Each level of instruction ended with a simple graduation in front of the church.
2. Graduates of Bear Fruit moved into the five lessons of Fitly Framed. Fitly Framed and focuses on every person having a God-given gift that must be used for God’s glory. It also helped the student determine their gift(s) with a gift test.
3. One department in the church was the Personnel Ministry. At our monthly leadership meeting, leaders made the Director of Personnel aware of opportunities to serve. The Director of Personnel would also talk about he students in Fitly Framed and what the gift test indicated to be their strengths.
4. Before the student completed Fitly Framed, the Director of Personnel would have a one-on-one with him or her. The gift test would be reviewed and an attempt made to connect the newcomer to several places to serve. The Director of Personnel understood that certain areas of ministry required specific levels of commitment. Any concern was cleared with the pastor.
5. With proper approvals, the leader of a specific ministry (Sunday School, Youth, Bus, etc.) would ask the recent graduate of Fitly Framed to serve. We did not ask a spiritual baby to make a one-year commitment. At this point, we wanted to give an opportunity to serve at a low commitment levels.
6. If the new convert was involved in something where it was not working out or if there were personality clashes (like in Acts 6), we’d make adjustments and involve them somewhere else.
7. Every new convert was invited to attend my monthly leadership training sessions. One never knows what buried treasure lies in a new believer. Give every chance for such things to be discovered. NOTE: if you are scrambling for time to get the leadership training done, you may want to take advantage of the leadership lessons on HM Live. A new leadership lesson posts on the last Tuesday of each month. It has several options: teach it yourself or used the webcast. Teach leaders yourself or let me help—but let’s get it done.
Was the system perfect for “Full Employment”? No!—we only attained 62%. Did it work? Yes!
Go back to the issue of the day: how many of your new converts, or mature believers for that matter, are actively involved in a defined role of ministry? If you are not satisfied with the answer, perhaps you can put some of these strategies to work for the benefits to your saints and your church.
The article “‘Full Employment’” written by Carlton L. Coon, Sr. was excerpted from Home Missions, September/October 2009.
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.”