Discipleship Evangelization Making Church Matter Team Building

Thoughts on First Serve

April 1, 2009

From Michael

We had a really great weekend to close out the current message series as well as the season of Lent. Last week we topped 4100 in attendance but this weekend it was over 4200. Incredible.

This was also our annual “First Serve” weekend where we challenged every member to become a minister. At Nativity we want every member to get into ministry as a way of continuing their growth in God’s purpose for their life, as well as to make sure we are a Church of contributors and not just Christian consumers (a lot of Churches are filled with people who never do anything except consume and complain, we don’t want to be that kind of Church).

Maria Folsom-Kovarik, our Director of Adult Ministry, and her team did an outstanding (and creative) job of organizing the whole program this year. I really liked the buttons.

The basic idea to “First Serve” is that we select a few specific ministries that can accommodate new people easily and without a lot of special training (parking ministry, café ministry, etc). People give it a test drive for just one weekend and then decide if they want to make a commitment.

Our whole approach to ministry here is really very effective and healthy for the Church and for the individuals involved. And it’s extremely simple. Our thinking has been influenced by Pastor Andy Stanley’s book “7 Practices of Effective Ministry.” Andy talks about making sure that people in ministry know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and what winning or succeeding looks like in their ministry and that we’re setting them up to succeed. We try and keep the focus really narrow as possible but clearly connected to the overall purpose of the Church (people who park cars understand that they are part of the weekend message; people who are serving coffee know that they are preaching the Gospel in a wordless way). Ministry has clear expectations as well as limits and boundaries, schedules, down time, time off. We know that “volunteers” are not free, they must be respected and cared for and “compensated” in aprobriate ways. Ministers must be responsible and serve according to the team standards of the Church. Ministers can be released if they are not working out, or reassigned if they’re misplaced. People are usually allowed to serve in only one ministry.

What I really liked about Maria’s approach this year was having dozens and dozens of people currently serving in ministry available (everywhere) all weekend to recruit new ministers. Some Churches buy into the myth that it is only the responsibility of staff to find and train volunteer ministers. That is really going to limit the number of people involved. We have hundreds of people involved in ministry because other ministers invited them. When this gets going, then volunteerism can grow exponentially. If our Church is going to continue to grow, then our volunteer ministry staff has to keep growing too.

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