Is your church struggling to fill all those committee slots? Are you tired of begging for volunteers so the church can provide all the ministries it always has provided? Is the passing of the clipboard asking people to sign up not working? Are you frustrated and not sure what to do? Believe it or not, you are not alone! Many churches are struggling with these same issues and questions.
In my experience, here is why most churches are wrestling with these concerns around engagement:
● People are no longer interested in the ministries being offered.
● People feel the committees they are being asked to serve on are no longer effective nor impactful.
● The ministries or committees people are being asked to help with do not have a clear purpose.
● The role the person is being asked to take is unclear and/or they do not feel they have been equipped for the role.
● The committee or ministry the person is being asked to serve in does not align with their gifts or passions.
● The role the person is being asked to take does not feel relevant to the time, the church’s mission, or where the person feels the church needs to head.
● The role the person has been asked to take does not actually have the authority and responsibility to get the job done.
● The person does not feel like their time spent in the ministry or committee will make any difference in the life of the church, reach a new person, or have any impact on the community.
The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church clearly states ALL are called to ministry in ¶128:
“…all Christians are called to minister wherever Christ would have them serve and witness in deeds and words that heal and free.”
Yet, the church has lost its zeal, emphasis, focus, and practice for identifying, equipping, recruiting and deploying laity for ministry. Instead, we have concentrated on placing people in committee positions, holding countless meetings, reading endless reports to one another, and diverting our attention away from our purpose and accountability to the mission of making disciples.
Here are ways to boost the untapped potential and passion of your laity for empowerment and missional impact:
● Simplify your structure for nimble decision-making eliminating delays and wasting time in meetings.
● Create an accountable leadership culture at all levels where leaders are empowered with authority and responsibility and held accountable for their role, actions, and alignment to the mission and vision.
● Engage the accountable leadership assessment cycle for all ministries to help us stop ministries that are no longer effective.
● Create a permission-giving culture that eliminates the leadership board from being the bottleneck for day-to-day operations through guiding principles.
● Practice engaging in leadership covenants starting with the leadership board, all ministry teams, staff, small groups, etc. to outline expectations of one another and the ministry they will be doing together.
● Have a shared vision for the church representing the unique way your church is making disciples in this given season of ministry taking into consideration the gifts of the congregation, the passions of the leaders, and the solution/impact the church is providing for the community. This provides clear direction for everyone to head together.
● Leverage and align the church’s resources for the mission and vision. This eliminates the pressure for personal preferences and traditions and instead provides the shared understanding of missional alignment.
● Create and engage people in a leadership development process that helps people identify their spiritual gifts, secular experience, passions, and understanding of accountable leadership. People therefore see the direct connection to their unique giftedness and how it fits into the mission, vision, and ministries.
● Identify a signature ministry for the church to reach the targeted mosaic the church is called to reach. Go deep relationally with handoff ministries and events related to this signature ministry rather than providing numerous unrelated ministries and unrelated demographics. Do fewer ministries with excellence with this targeted demographic to eliminate burnout, make better use of resources, and actually reach more people.
● Do not delay handling bullies, conflict, employee performance, power struggles, etc. using Matthew 18:15-21 and accountable leadership practices. This is not only biblical and demonstrates mature spiritual leadership, but this is the way a healthy, vital organization leads and grows.
How does a church go about making these shifts and tapping into this potential and empowering laity? Check out the Local Church SAS, Equipping Leadership Boards, Simplified, Accountable Church Coaching, and Simplified, Accountable Structure Overview Webinar. Laity (especially Millennials and Gen Z) will no longer serve on a committee out of a sense of obligation; they will engage only when they feel like it can make a difference. Empower your laity for ministry by providing impactful ways to engage in laity leadership!