Equipping or enabling
Does your large group gathering point guests and members to an intentional class or relationship that is designed to help with their primary connections in the church: Jesus, a bible study group, and a service team? Do your Sunday School or small group leaders see themselves as disciple-makers who equip their group members to serve? Does your church have an intentional pathway to help new and existing members find their spiritual giftedness and connect on a service team in the church? If you said “no” to any of these, you are not alone, and we can help!
Intake and outflow
I come from a small business background. We learned a valuable lesson regarding inventory. If your intake exceeds your outflow, then your overhead will be your downfall! In relation to the local church, we must help our people (overhead) find their spiritual gift (intake) and serve (outflow) based on their giftedness not based on the “hot mess” need at the moment.
Consider your spiritual journey. Many of us grew up in a system where leaders asked people to serve long-term on a team based on the short-term need, not giving thought to either the person’s giftedness or interest. This model has not worked. I believe there is a better way that involves believers serving from their area of giftedness. This model is life-giving and flows from a biblical model rather than a cultural urgency.
EMS: Every member serving
Biblical church membership means that every member of your church serves in some capacity while using their spiritual gift(s). Many churches under-value this layer in their disciple-making strategy, because it’s easier to make broad announcements asking for people to serve than to lead people to discern their gift(s) and choose a service team.
Leaders should consider three key questions when helping believers learn and use their spiritual gift(s).
1) Do my church members know what their spiritual gift(s) are and understand their usefulness? Many growing churches are using the New Member/Discovery class to give an assessment. The assessment will allow the leader(s) to teach that biblical church membership always involves serving and provides an intentional launching pad to connect the member with a service team.
2) Do we have a list of the service opportunities at the church in one document where members can make a prayerful choice where to serve?
3) Once my member(s) sign up, who will follow up to make sure they get contacted and connected on the team? Follow up is necessary for long-term success and more impactful if done by a lay-person.
Leading the charge!
Pastor, one of your roles is to “equip the saints to do the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4). You are the key to this culture shift that is needed in many churches. Plugging in church members starts with having an overall strategy that guides believers to understand that biblical church membership (intake) always involves serving (outflow). The leader of the church must speak this language consistently often to establish a biblical model of church membership. Remember, your people will imitate what you celebrate, so you must speak the language and model the behavior.
I encourage you to set up a disciple-making system at your church that promotes a grass-roots movement where the church leader(s) equip the church members to do ministry (Ephesians 4). This model is more biblical, inspires better, has a larger impact, and provides greater longevity!
Consider these four principles to help you create a gospel impact that will live beyond your ministry:
- Invest heavily in the leaders around you. Outside of the Holy Spirit, they are your most valuable resource.
- Develop a lay-led ministry where your people know their gift(s) and serve in that area. At the same time, they should be encouraged and willing to serve short-term in areas that may not be their passion.
- Celebrate the “wins” early and often to create momentum and avoid becoming stagnant.
- Consistency is key when modeling a disciple’s life and creating world impacting disciples that multiply.
Our Discipleship team would love to help you process this topic further, please contact us at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. We would like to hear from you, and we are here to serve!