No one is as committed to our local church as we are, pastor.
Well, almost no one. There’s Jesus, of course. And we might have some hard-core members who live, breathe and die by their congregational involvement.
But the average member – even the most consistent attender – won’t be as committed as we are.
So what do we do when someone wants to help out, maybe even lead in the church, but they’re not showing the level of commitment we’d like to see?
Help them find a ministry that matches their current level of commitment and stretches them just a little bit beyond.
Here’s an illustration to help us imagine what that looks like.
The Ministry Overlap
In the Venn diagram above, we see two critical factors symbolized by the two circles. On the left, the mission of the church – on the right, the passion of a volunteer.
Ministry happens in the overlap where mission and passion meet. For the average pastor, and the avid church member, that overlap will be large. These are the people you can depend on for almost anything you need.
For others, like the average churchgoer, the overlap will be smaller. But as long as there’s some overlap, there’s a ministry that person can participate in. The key is to discover where a person’s passion and the church’s mission intersect, then utilize their gifts, talents, time and other resources within that overlap.
When we find the place where their passion already matches the church’s mission, we can leverage it to expand their ministry.
What we can’t do is ask a person to commit at a level that is way beyond their passion level. Help them stretch, yes. But demand that they step up in ways they’re not close to being ready for? That will break them, not stretch them.
First Steps First
My friend, Dave Jacobs, likes to say (half-jokingly, I think) that he’s a fan of lowering the bar. If you’re not having any devotions, don’t start at an hour a day. Start with 10 minutes. Or five.
Better to accomplish a goal of five minutes with the Lord every day than to fail – and then give up entirely – on an hour a day.
The same goes for commitment to the church. It’s better to use and leverage your church members' current level of passion than to demand such an extreme commitment that they give up in frustration – or never volunteer to begin with.
Certainly, that commitment should always have a built-in stretch factor. It’s not leadership (from you) or growth (for them) if they stay where they are. But the pull to a greater level of involvement should stretch them without breaking them.
The Church Isn’t Jesus
Also, we need to be careful not to conflate someone’s commitment to the church with their commitment to Jesus. They overlap, but they’re not the same thing.
There are many committed church members whose primary area of ministry isn’t inside the church walls. They come to worship and get filled up for the week, so they can go back home, to school, or to a volunteer ministry during the week.
Pastors and churches need to recognize, honor and support people making outside-the-church-walls commitments just as much as we do for inside-the-walls commitments.
People serve differently.
Their commitment won’t look like your commitment.
That’s the way the body of Christ works. Each part fulfilling its role. And if our role is pastoring, we should help equip people for ministry no matter where it happens.
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