No strategy for helping people find a place to serve is complete until we have a plan to both equip and evaluate them in their effort. Far too many churches seem to think they’ve achieved their goal at the moment someone says, “Yes, Pastor, I’ll be glad to help.” But unless there’s a quality plan for training and a system to give them needed guidance and feedback, their serving won’t be satisfying for long.
If you’re just joining us, we’ve been walking through the five questions every local church needs to be asking to bring new energy and life to their congregation. While we’re working on question four–How will we help people find a place to serve?–let’s take a quick look back at the entire journey.
Our first question—How do we engage new people?—helped us see the critical need to develop specific strategic steps for connecting with people throughout our community. There simply can be no new day at your church without some new life!
Our second question occupied us for several blogs—How will we treat them when they walk through our doors? As we said, it would be tragic to work hard to connect with someone only to drop the ball when they visited our church. Effective hospitality and assimilation strategies are some of the most critical elements of a church health plan.
Next, we tackled–How will we teach them how to follow Jesus? Here, we looked at both the content and the settings where discipleship teaching is delivered. You must have a plan for people to engage, and then, of course, you’ll need to encourage them to engage that plan.
When we ask our current question–“How will we help them find a place to serve?–we have already considered helping people find their gifts and find a place to use them. But, we can’t stop there. In fact, it’s really our efforts to equip, encourage, and evaluate that set us up for an easier time recruiting folks to serving posts. If you provide the needed support for helping someone to succeed, you’ll create the type of environment that nurtures others to say “yes” to your ministry invitation.
In this context, training simply means showing someone the “how” and “why” of their effort. Too many church leaders assume their people know what they know. Some end up in long-term teaching roles without ever receiving training. I can’t think of a community that would accept such carelessness in their school system!
Now training doesn’t need to be complex, but it’s caliber should connect appropriately with its level of responsibility. I can teach someone to be an usher or greeter in about twenty minutes, but training a good teacher will require a bigger investment. So, how do we do this at our church? is a very important question.
Your training should also include clearly conveying “why” we do what we do. It’s the “why” that helps people endure difficulty. When I know why I’m fulfilling an assignment, I can connect more easily to a meaningful experience. In general, your training should include “one part why” for every “two parts how.”
And don’t forget to encourage and evaluate. Every individual, no matter how gifted, needs a little fine-tuning in their ministry effort. Sadly, many good folks have developed bad ministry habits over the years, largely because no one was there to nip that behavior when it was forming. I once met a Sunday school teacher who used his podium to spout his political views each Sunday. (Terrible idea!) Unfortunately, he’d been doing this for years and now even his pastor was afraid to insert some correction. It seems likely that this good man would have been more open to a slight nudging away from this behavior early in his teaching career than he will now that he’s cemented this conduct in his “normal” routine. People will almost always be more receptive to correction in their earliest efforts than they will be later, so don’t miss those windows!
A training and evaluation plan lets people know how much you care about their success. When we give time to their ministry development, we show them that what they are doing truly matters and that we are fully invested in helping them be effective. So answering our fourth question really requires quite a lot. We must help people connect to a place where they can serve God in a meaningful way and then continue to monitor and guide their efforts for lasting success. If you do that, and do it well, people will want to be on your team!