New Convert Care Involvement Part 2
By Carlton L. Coon, Sr.
For continuity, let’s begin with review
* “The Body of Christ Has No Appendix” stirred interest. The basic premise: each person is intended of God to do something meaningful. To inspire greater ministry involvement, Fitly Framed was made available. Get this resource by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Many saints are not involved in their local church. Why? In general: (A) Not affirming many of the roles of service. (B) A consumer mentality. (C) No paths are provided to discover gifts or put them to use. (D) Insecurity about empowering people. (E) Involving people is harder than pulpit work.
Questions to Consider
* Of those who call you “Pastor,” what percentage are active in a defined role of ministry? (A defined role means it has some sort of job description with responsibilities and expectations.)
* How are you doing involving new converts? Of those born-again five years ago, how many are now actively involved? Three? Two? Last year? This is important and may lead to an unpleasant discovery. However, the diagnosis may be the launching pad to a more effective future.
* Is involvement by accident or strategic intent? In your desire to have people serve, do you consider the person’s abilities, interests, and gifts or is the main focus the church’s needs?
* How does someone learn about opportunities to serve?
* Do the newborn hear you speak hopes, dreams, and expectations for them? Will one of them become a great soul-winner? Might one of them become a Home Missionary to New York? What do you envision for your new converts? When does it get communicated to them?
* Are children and young people reared to consume the church’s resources or to reach the community? How are you equipping them to reach?
If the body of Christ has no inactive parts but a Home Missions church has far more watchers than workers, how can it change? No quick fix, but you already know there are few quick fixes in building people and churches. No one is part of the spiritual body without specific intent; no part can be ignored without the body being less effective. It is important to value each member of the body and train him or her to fulfill his or her role. Again, how?
Create a Culture of Ministry and Service
At your location, is ministry the norm or the exception? While creating a culture of servant-hood is not a simple 1-2-3 process some things can certainly help.
Commend those who are already serving. Honor them early. Honor them often. What gets honored gets repeated. Particularly take time to honor those who do the “behind the scenes” stuff. Cleaning teams, bus workers, children’s ministry staff, lawn care, ushers, and soundmen seldom get recognized or appreciated. How can you honor them?
* Have those who serve in such roles stand. Take a few minutes to express why their ministry is important.
* Let the church family applaud their work.
* Thank God for them, pray a covering and blessing on them.
After you do this, you will almost certainly have someone else express a desire to serve.
You may be thinking, “Those things are not important. We need a musician and I’m being told to say ‘thank you’ to those who vacuum the floor.” Think it is not significant? Try this: have whomever does the simple task of putting paper goods in the restrooms not do it for two weeks. Before those two weeks have passed, that simple task not being done will make its way to you. Nothing is insignificant.
Express private gratitude: An usher who receives a personal, hand-written note card from you saying, “I noticed how you went out of your way to speak to each visitor last Sunday,” is treasured. On occasion we would invite those who served in a specific under-appreciated area of ministry to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with us. Little things mean a lot. If you have not been taking time to say “thank you” to those who already serve, do not fret and fume about how you can’t get anybody to do anything.
Teach your expectation of each one having a ministry: Just as you take time to teach and preach about stewardship of finance, periodically do the same regarding the stewardship of time and talent. Teach with a “call to action.”
Plan for involvement: If you commit to establish a culture of ministry and service, prepare yourself and the leadership team to deal with those who become available. You may have a leader who talks about how unfortunate it is there are not more workers. In reality, the leader may not be open to new helpers. It takes much work (and sometimes a change of leadership) to alter this “closed” mindset. In planning for involvement it is good to expand one’s concept of ministry. You can do this as you.
Learn about Motivational Gifts
* Neil never fails to welcome with a smile.
* Marilyn faithfully cleans the Sunday School rooms.
* Karla compassionately loves children on a bus route.
* Shauna faithfully gives direction in praise and worship.
* Andy consistently teaches a Home Bible study.
Marilyn would not want to be the hostess; Karla wouldn’t want to teach the midweek Bible study; Neil wouldn’t be good at guiding the praise team; and Shauna would not want to preach. What’s the point? Not one of the people I mentioned would be comfortable or fulfilled serving in some other role. God in His sovereignty created unique people who use their gifts, personalities, and abilities to faithfully serve Him. Interesting word “gift(s).”
* One receives the promised gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
* I Corinthians 12 lists the “gifts of the spirit.”
* God gave the church equippers (Ephesians 4:11-12).
Usually, this is the extent of our consideration of “gifts.” Think about this, what small percentage of people does God give to be apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists? How few are ever used in the “gifts of the spirit.” What about all those who are never used in the spiritual gifts and are not called to equip? Are those people on the sidelines perpetually uninvolved observers? If that is accurate, the majority of the body of Christ is on the sidelines. There is actually another gift list, in Romans 12:6-8, though one given less consideration. 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 teaching; 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. (Amplified Version)
This is a listing, of motivational or personality gifts. Some observations:
* The gifts are not “show.” Each is functional, connected to action.
* Each one has a motivational gift or gifts that shapes him or her.
* People are to put their gift(s) to work.
* These gifts are resources to build up the body of Christ.
* Used correctly, motivational gifts benefit both the lost and the saved.
* Each gift functioning in its intended role brings glory to the Lord Jesus.
* Those who use their gift are more content and fulfilled than if on the sideline.
Folks, we have just got to get this: one may never be used in the spiritual gifts, or be part of God’s fivefold gift to the church, but God has uniquely gifted each person to make a difference. Andy, Neil, Karla, Marilyn, and Shauna will not preach General Conference, but each one makes a difference a significant difference for the work of the Lord Jesus.
Look again at the listing of things in Romans 12:6-8:
* Practical Service
It is estimated that less than 2% of American church-goers know motivational gifts even exist. Of that 2%, less than half have discovered their particular gift and put it to work.
We cannot allow this trend to continue in our Home Missions churches. We need full employment. Action Steps:
* If you did not take the time to do so, answer the questions from the first page.
* If you’ve not already done so, measure your church’s level of involvement.
* Think about those who are already serving. Do you have any people trying to serve in an area outside their gift? Who is particularly fulfilled in what they are doing? Interesting how diverse the body is when one thinks about it.
* Now plot an action plan to match your uninvolved people with areas of service in the church that correspond to their unique gifts. (Remember that Fitly Framed is available to help you lead your people in gift discovery.)
With these three steps and God’s help, we can involve individuals and strengthen the body as a whole. In the next few months, we’ll continue this journey a bit further.