Church leaders have the great privilege of seeing to the spiritual formation of disciples. This is core to the mission Jesus gave us. One of the aspects of spiritual formation is service.
For service, the many members of the Body have diverse gifts and function. Thus the responsibility of pastors and church leaders is connecting need to people’s gifts and vice versa. It is creating space and opportunities for people to discover and exercise their gifts.
When leaders fail to create such an environment they stunt the growth of those they lead. Pastors and leaders can also rob the communities they serve of healthy churches that meet the needs around them.
Thus service is not only critical for those who serve, but also for those the church ought to reach. This means it is important to create ways for people to contribute both their time and talent in the life of the church. For their good and for the benefit of others as well.
Volunteer structures are necessary. Your congregation needs to know how to sign up to serve. It is easier for people to commit when they know demands on their time and other resources.
For instance, tech and media volunteers need to know what they are signing up for. They need to know expectations and demands on their time and skills before they commit.
Clear, simple structures and systems should make serving for all members easier. But yet, this is not always the case. Sometimes they get in the way.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Not everyone’s family life, career and such can fit into our churches’ systems and structures. For example, some members of your congregation travel a lot. The demands of their family life sometimes do not fit into the days or weekly hours volunteers ‘should’ to give.
Some of the most talented people in your church have restricting demands on their time outside of church. Some people travel so much they cannot commit to the ‘required’ extent. It is not that they’re not committed as Christians; it is just that, in practical ways, it is impossible for them.
It might just be that our volunteer structures or systems ‘close out’ have great skill.
For Pastors and Church Leaders
This means church leaders need to listen to understand some of the practical challenges some may have. It also means they need to commit to finding ways to address them.
Though structure is important we must remember that it is there to help members serve. It cannot become an obstacle. Sure, it is messier and takes more effort to try accommodating everyone.
Trying to be more inclusive may just be worth the trouble and discomfort.
Remember the opportunities to serve transcend the discomfort of keeping rosters intact and clean.
Think: Who could you be closing out? Are there no other ways to involve the mom who has some gifts to contribute but can’t make all the hours you’ve set? What about the professional with great talent who is only in town on the weekends?
How can you take advantage of technology to include or involve people? If the challenge is of proximity it might not be difficult to solve.
Make sure that volunteer structures and systems are not hindering involvement. Commit to continually finding ways for people to serve despite their challenges.