Those with vision initiate

Posted by seanho on Tue 27 February 2007

The following is copied from an email I just sent a friend in regard to ministry at church. My thoughts are still formulating and aren't set in stone yet, just some ponderings. Oh, and the photo is just a random one from an old album.

Hi , thanks for thinking of me. This email will be a very long answer to a very short question. :)

Hmm, I do enjoy worshipping God and am thankful for every opportunity to lead worship. I am always happy to help. And I don't want to discourage you or anyone else from serving.

However, I personally am somewhat wary of "applying", volunteering for something (particularly a leadership position) that nobody has asked me to do. It puts the incumbent ministry leadership in the awkward position of evaluating ("auditioning") me to see whether I'm qualified for leadership, whether my motives are pure, and it puts me in the awkward position of having to "prove" myself to them. Having been on both sides of that table, I can say that neither position is comfortable. And I am really tired of having my motives questioned.

What has worked in the past for me, and continues to work well for me, is to make myself available for invitations. I am always happy to help in any ministry in any capacity, when asked. If nobody asks me, that's quite all right -- I don't need to be in leadership here, and there are plenty of other ways to serve God, with or without "official" sanction by the church. It is a very different definition of a "servant's heart" from what we see in many parts of the church.

My philosophy of church ministry is that if I am in a position of leadership in a ministry, then God is revealing His vision for this ministry to me, so I am self-motivated to share this vision, and I proactively "head-hunt" --

  • go into the pools of potential helpers,
  • get to know people and their giftings,
  • share the vision with them, and
  • individually ask if they would prayerfully consider joining our team.

Those with the vision initiate.

In asking people individually, I am indicating that I know and trust them, and I am implicitly committing to mentor/train them, sharing in the responsibility. If they mess up, if they feel underqualified, if people question their motives or spiritual maturity, I will stand in their corner and defend them.

What I've also found is that people respond really well to this approach! Saying, "I know you, I trust you, would you consider joining us?" works so much better than posting a sign-up sheet in the foyer, then sitting back and complaining that nobody signs up, or guilt-tripping people into helping. But it does take effort to proactively get to know people, and so often when we are in leadership we spend so much time doing things, and we don't allocate time for relating to people, especially to those outside of our ministry.