Posted in Ministry

Give it a try

It's just about time for the church's annual meeting where next year's budget is approved and leaders are elected for various positions on church council, elders and those who take care of the property.

About thirty-two years ago, certainly a long time ago in a place far away, I was first asked to serve on a church council. I think they asked me to serve as chairman of education. I was just a couple of years out of college and had only been attending the church for that time. But these folks were so good at inviting and encouraging me to get involved, and I was so excited to do it.

Within months after I began worshiping there, they let me play trumpet for worship. Then they let me sing with the choir. Then they asked if I would teach the high school Sunday School class, which then led to working with the youth group. I was so eager to get involved and loved every opportunity I had to serve.

I didn't, however, spend much time on the board, because my job moved me to another state and I began attending another church. They asked me to make visits with the evangelism team, and I jumped right in. It was great (in no small part because we would go out for a drink afterwards.) And it was valuable experience as I then began my seminary studies that fall.

Well, things have certainly changed. On the other side of the pulpit, I've discovered that finding people to serve in leadership is a daunting task. Invitations are met with a quick, “No.” Rarely a “let me pray about it” or “tell me more about the position” or “how much time does the job take?” Just, “No.” It's puzzling, especially when I remember how excited I was to get involved.

The reasons for that “No” are many. “I haven't been here very long.” “I really don't have time.” “I don't like to get involved in church politics.” “I'm going to be traveling a lot.” “I'll help, but I don't want to be in charge.” “I'm not well.” I understand. But when this response comes from everyone who's asked, you begin to wonder if there isn't something going on. A conspiracy? Probably not. Just complacency.

You get the most out of church when you do it rather than watch it. The church is always people who are gathered and then sent. We are gathered to participate in what Jesus Christ has done for us, and sent to share it with others. From “hear the word” to “eat and drink” to “go and tell,” we are invited to be an active part of His kingdom here on earth and eventually in eternity.

Now I know that everyone has different God-given abilities. Not everyone is a leader, or a teacher or a bookkeeper. However, when I encourage someone to serve in a leadership role, it is because I've seen in them something that fits the job. From experience to personality, you are a good fit. All I ask is that you take some time to pray, to talk about the job, and to consider your part in the body of Christ.

Having said all that, I am very grateful for everyone who has served in leadership at the churches where I've been. When you work side-by-side in the kingdom, you help each other see how our Lord and grow in faith together. I appreciate the time, energy and resources you invested in your area of ministry. You are the ones who encouraged me and will encourage others to serve, too.


Posted in Life

What I learned at a leadership retreat

Last night and this morning, I got my church council together for a long overdue leadership retreat, two three-hour sessions to talk about some vision and insight into their role as church leaders. We had an agenda, but that wasn’t really the most important dynamic of our time together. The best thing we did was eat, talk, laugh, pray, and relax together as a group. It is something we should have done right off the bat at the beginning of the year, especially with a number of new people on the board.

We often talk about how important relationships are when talking about our faith ¬†with others and when inviting people to participate in a ministry or study. We encourage our small groups to do this on a regular basis. Well, guess what — it’s just important to develop the relationships between leaders who meet together on a regular basis. At least that’s what I now realize. Our monthly business meetings will feel much different now that we’ve spent time in another setting, sharing, listening and interacting. I intend to make sure we get together like this in the future to further develop this dynamic.