Many renewal congregations have an abundance of talented people who are not engaged in ministry. This is a classic example of churches not living up to their full redemptive potential. Almost every congregation is filled with people who are gifted administrators, teachers, technicians, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, trades persons, agricultural business leaders, political scientists, historians, writers, talented gardeners, remarkable parents, capable counselors, media specialists and excellent hospitality providers. In many churches these gifts are underutilized. It is as if they have storage shelves filled with unwrapped gifts while, at the same time, they plead for the Spirit to send gifted people. The problem isn’t having gifts it’s opening the gifts we already have.
Here are 7 practices that will help engage gifted people in a renewal movement:
Practice 1: Cast a Compelling Vision
Talented people invest when there is a compelling vision for how their gifts will help energize a movement to transform lives and communities for Christ. Every day gifted people are already engaged in the full-on use of their gifts because the work they do stretches and fulfills them. A church’s vision should also stretch and fulfill.
Practice 2: Embrace a Passion For a “Church Unleashed”
Gifted people will use their gifts in kingdom work when they feel empowered to make important decisions without constant micromanagement. They should be trusted to make good and wise ministry decisions within the contours of existing budgets and administrative resources. Set parameters then set gifted people free.
Practice 3: Make the Ask
What is often missing in the process of engaging gifted people is a simple ask. This will demand, of course, knowing parishioners well enough to identify passions, gifts and hobbies. In one way or another, leaders must discover what makes parishioner’s hearts sing. Once leaders know that song, they can invite gifted people to join the chorus.
Practice 4: Locate People Near Their Passions and Gifts
So often churches ask people to serve in areas where they have little passion and few gifts. It is a proven formula for burnout. Nehemiah discovered the principle of locating people near their passion when he asked them to rebuild Jerusalem’s broken walls in front of their own homes or connected to their own businesses.
Practice 5: Provide Integration and Support
Gifted people want to be empowered but they do not want to be abandoned. As gifted people launch into ministry, they need to see how their work is connected to the ministry as a whole. This is remedied if they participate on a coordinating council that puts them into relationship and dialogue with others who are also engaged in ministry.
Practice 6: Develop a Mentoring Process
Many of the most gifted ministry leaders have gifts and passions that are just emerging. They are often the middle-schoolers through early adulthood. Every church should invest in mentoring programs for worship arts, teaching, diaconal ministries, pastoral care, etc. Pairing a young recruit with a mature adult is the best mentoring plan available.
Practice 7: Recognize Those Who Serve
Saying “thank you” is essential for keeping and sustaining gifted volunteers. Renewal leaders must make a practice of noticing and appreciating those who serve. Blank note cards should sit prominently on a renewal leader’s desk. One or two should be sent out daily. In many additional ways, those who serve should receive words of gracious appreciation.