The next two days are big days for me. My entire Advisory Board for my ministry will all converge upon San Antonio for our annual meeting. We will discuss all that we have seen God doing in the past year and we will chart the course for the coming year. For 9 years now this excellent (and growing) group of men and women have come from all over (at their own expense) for this event. They have come to represent many of my closest friends. And yet, I still get anxious about it.
I just cannot help but worry that any of them would ever leave one of these meetings and begin to wonder if their involvement is worth the trouble. I worry that any of them would ever wonder whether their investment in this ministry is really making a difference. I worry that they will not feel challenged to dream new dreams and to roll their sleeves up and get involved.
Yes, I am a little insecure here. No, I probably don’t really need to worry. But I think this kind of worrying is actually pretty healthy.
And we should probably do more of it in the church as well.
There was a study done several years ago in churches–I don’t remember who did it, probably the Barna Group, not sure (I’m racking up “lazy blogger” points here…sorry). It showed that a huge percentage of new church members who were not actively engaged in ministry or some kind of ministry-related service within 6 months of joining the church would never engage in ministry nor otherwise ever be “active” in that church. No real surprise there. We all know that a person’s motivation and passion for investing in the ministries of a church are probably never again as high as the day he/she joins the church. This finding simply says we should strike while the iron is hot.
There is irony in that finding. Our churches today are spending all kinds of energy and resources trying to win consumers by being more entertaining or by having prettier buildings or by otherwise tickling the fancy of their consumer community. But if that is our best plan for keeping people engaged in church, then that will also become the reason people eventually leave our church for another more entertaining one. No, far deeper than the consumer mentality in people is a genuine Spiritual need to make a difference in their world. We, the church, must afford every member that opportunity…not just many members, and not even most members…every member.
That means your church needs an intentional, comprehensive system in place to accomplish this very important task: to make sure every new member finds a place to make a difference in people’s lives. It means your church has to have plenty of ministries going on, in order to have opportunities for everyone to participate. It means you must have a well-run system of getting to know each new member and his/her gifts and abilities and passions. It means you must have training in place, regularly equipping new volunteers. It means you must have celebrations in place, recognizing jobs well-done by volunteers. But most importantly, it means you must be constantly casting vision so that everyone can see his/her part in the bigger picture.
Frankly, it is a ton of work. And it requires passionate leadership with lots of help around them. But if you are wondering why you are losing your people or why they just don’t seem to be very motivated, then it may be time to consider a radical shift in this direction. Mobilize your people. You’ll be glad you did.
© Blake Coffee
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