We, as churches, need to really find ways not to employ the Warm Bodied Based Ministry. That’s when there’s a need for a position to be filled (whether paid or by a unpaid servant) and we just put whoever’s nearby to take that leadership role. That person might be the most ill-equipped person, but they have the most important qualification- they are present.
Only because my experiences in ministry have been deeply tied to the Korean churches, I know that Korean churches do this more often than not.
Let’s take someone that I know very, very well.
She is a very gifted person. Called into serving God, no one can doubt that. She has been a very faithful and effective youth worker in the previous ministries that we have served.
But here’s the thing. As much as we both love children, her gifts simply do not lie in that area of ministry. And she doesn’t mind me saying that. She doesn’t have the passion (nor the calling) to serve God in that capacity.
But in the previous Korean churches that we have served, it was funny (okay, more frustrating than funny) to see the church leadership try to force her into children’s ministry. Not because of her gifts. Not because of her calling. But mainly because she was there because of who she was married to.
Presence is not the best of qualification for serving the church.
It’s a good quality to have. But if we’re only plugging people into service simply because they’re there, the church is not going to move forward.
Sure, sometimes we’ll get lucky and discover that the person is the perfect fit for that ministry- both the unpaid servant and the ministry thrive in service. But, let’s be honest. That doesn’t happen as often as we hope.
I also think it shines upon our impatience and laziness. Or, actually, our desperation. When looking for a candidate in any job (whether paid or volunteer) and we select someone because of our laziness, impatience and/or desperation, chances are high that things may end badly.
I know how desperate we can get when we need a children’s pastor and it’s been months since we’ve sent out word into communities of our need. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I was in that situation. But, I don’t think putting in a warm body to fill that hole is the best solution. Sure, we can say that it’s a temporary fix. But because we have someone serving in that capacity, our desperation sort of wanes out and we sort of feel that we can go longer without the permanent solution. Chances are, in this scenario, the warm body burns out, the ministry becomes idle or both.
We need to be more proactive in being a gift/talent based leadership, where we try our best, as a church, to plug people into ministry based on their gifts and talents. That takes a lot more work and coordination, but ain’t it worth it?
This is also requires us to be active in recruiting. That means, less relying on announcements from the pulpit – “we need Sunday school teachers, if you’re interested, don’t mind all the stories you hear about how crazy those kids are, go talk to so-and-so, because he will be happy for anyone to be Sunday school teachers”-, less relying on sign-up sheets (if you want to be a Sunday school teacher, there’ll be a sign up sheet next to the coffee and donuts. Just leave your name and number and someone will get back to you), and, instead, be bold and courageous to actually approach someone and invite them to serve in the ministry – “you know, I was praying for a Sunday school teacher, and I feel like you might be a great fit for this ministry because, first and foremost, the kids absolutely respect you and they loved that one time you spoke on Sunday morning about your faith.” The worst thing that could happen is they say no. And often times they do. But also, a lot of times, they come back and say something like, “I don’t know why I can’t shake off our last conversation… I think I’m interested…”
Of course (and as always) this is so much more easier said than done.
But I know that when we incorporate a warm-body based ministry, the potential of our church and ministry becomes vastly limited.
There are people out there that are a perfect fit for ministry.
Sometimes, we just got to go look for them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.