Discipleship Making Church Matter Team Building

Getting the Congregation Out of the Pews

March 3, 2012

Every weekend is special because we get to worship God, receive our Savior and help reintroduce people to him too.  Every weekend is special, but this weekend will be different.  And that’s not so much a promise as it is a warning.

If you have ever spent even a little time around here, you know we have a lot of member ministers, and we talk a lot about members getting into ministry.  The two go together: if you’re a pastor, clearly and consistently preaching the outcomes your looking for will bring you those outcomes. We want members (and regulars) to be ministers and hundreds of them have answered that call (600 at last count).

Our ministry leaders work hard to make sure that ministry is accessible and sustainable, usually ministers work no more than a few hours a month, in very clearly defined jobs.  We try to make sure people are matched to their jobs and serve on teams.  We want our ministers to succeed so we try and give them the right resources and tools they need, as well as clear directions and leadership.  We aspire to honor their service and acknowledge them in appropriate ways.  I think our Adult Ministry Oval (which is what we call our departments), under the leadership of Maria Folsom Kovarik, does a great job of calling forth and making the best use of our ministers to serve our growing church.  They do an even better job of helping grow the ministers themselves into disciples who are learning more about loving the Lord through their service.

This weekend we’re focusing on ministry as we continue our reflection on grace. That’s because ministry is an extension of grace. And our focus this weekend is, you will probably not be surprised to learn, all about getting more of our members serving.

Not because we’re desperate for help (we’re not, but even if we were, we wouldn’t act like we were). When I first came here they were always desperate for help when it came to the religious ed program (among other things), they never had enough teachers and volunteers.  And it seemed like every fall at every Mass we would try and shame people into stepping forward. One priest here was really good at it, “You ought to me ashamed of yourselves” he’d cry from the pulpit (great message, too bad no one was listening).

A lot of churches don’t have the ministers they need because they rely on guilt, and guilt only works short term, it never works well or for long. We don’t want members getting into ministry because of guilt, or even because of need…though we would welcome more help in many of our ministries.  We want our members serving because it’s an extension of grace, and we want to be a community of grace.  If too many people are just showing up here and consuming and never giving, we will not be a community of grace.

So, starting this weekend, we’re going to be very aggressively calling the congregation to get up out of the pews and start serving.  Even if we offend some people, even if we loose some people, that’s OK, the same thing happened to Jesus. It’s inevitable if we want to move our congregation forward.

The challenge we have in mind is simple as can be.  It’s called “First Serve” which is about agreeing to serve once, one time…and that time will be Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.  You can serve in a variety of ministries (alone, or with members of your family or small group).  Just give it a try.  You can sign up at church this weekend, or anytime on line (just go to our homepage and click on “Church Arise.”

We can be a very different community if we have enough people serving (and “enough” would be everyone), so get out of the pew and serve.

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  1. Thank you for a very positive and reassuring homily this morning, March 4th 2012. The message of Grace in the life of a Christian provides me with the assurance I need to lead a good life. It has often occurred to me that most of my life anxiety comes from the insecurities I feel in many facets of my being. When you repeated the word “If God is for us, who came be against” and framed it with the presence of Gods grace… I literally felt my mood change. I was imbued with a quite joy and confidence that allowed me to appreciate my life.
    As an aside – I work on the OPS Team on Sunday mornings. After mass this morning I was happily, the message but me in a great mood, sweeping the floors in the Great Room when I was accosted two little girls, ages 6 and 4. The 6 year old was very talkative and she informed me that she and her sister would be volunteering to work at Nativity in the near future – maybe cleaning the floor or maybe something else. It was a precious encounter and proof that your message was heard and understood – by a 6 year old girl with an open and loving heart.

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