TEACH THE 7 TRAITS OF BIBLICAL SERVICE IN CHURCH MINISTRY

Teaching the 7 Traits of Biblical Service to church volunteers leads your ministry team to better communication, deeper relationships and greater impact.

Many ministry leaders around the globe share some common woes: 

  • I don’t have enough volunteers
  • My vounteers aren’t committed
  • It seems like after I train my volunteers, they leave

THE REALITY OF TODAY’S CHURCH VOLUNTEERS

If the age-old statistic is true that 20% of the church does 80% of the work, we are a far cry from the Body of Christ as described in 1 Corinthians.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many … Now you are the body of Christ, and EACH ONE OF YOU is a part of it.”

1 Corinthians 12:14 & 27

If today’s disciples are too busy with their own lives to serve others, then we are a long way off from God’s desire for our relationships.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received TO SERVE OTHERS, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

If we, in God’s church, display a poor work ethic, we are missing the mark of finding the true depth of joy in service.

“Whatever you do, WORK AT IT WITH ALL YOUR HEART, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

Colossians 3:23-24

A group of leaders in Children’s Ministry were asked to describe their ideal volunteer.

One response read: “My ideal volunteer is the one who actually shows up.” While that response invokes chuckles and head nods, it makes me sad. 

Why do we settle for warm bodies who just show up? Has that really become the new bar of expectation? 

Before you settle for “what is” in our busy culture, with lack of commitment and distracted souls, I want to remind you of the God of Miracles!

God has a better reality in mind for His Church.

THE CHURCH GOD WANTS US TO BE

Let’s Reconnect with God’s Dream for Us

God gives us the picture of the Church He has created us to be:

  • A church that does life together
  • A church that supports and cares for each other
  • A church that sacrifices self to reach the world around us

The reality is our churches should filled with teams of ready servants, who share the weight of ministry. 

  • People who feel ownership in the vision and fully celebrate in the joys
  • Disciples who serve with grit, perseverance, and great passion
  • Teams who know the ropes and can manage in the leader’s absence

A true team becomes an extended family. Where relationships are deep and people not only “work” together, but do life together. Supporting not only the vision of the ministry, but each other personally. In tough times as well as in the joys.

This is not only what should be, but what COULD be!

THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE

God does not call us to things He cannot do

God can do immeasurably more than anything we can think or imagine. In fact, that well-quoted verse isn’t just a general platitude. It actually mentions HIS VERY CHURCH.

Ephesians 3:20-21

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory IN THE CHURCH and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.

So what can He do that is immeasurably more?

He changes Hearts. Attitudes. And Minds.

Yours and mine included. And every one of His Creations that we rub shoulders with. 

As Christians, we should be defined by His call, not by our current culture.

So if we are falling short as His Church, let’s not just sit in resigned acceptance. Let’s pray for God-sized transformation.

Testimonies of changed hearts are not hard to find these days. The internet makes the stories of transformed lives readily accessible. However, we shouldn’t have to turn to the internet. 

We should all have those testimonies. In our own churches. And our own hearts. 

Encountering a life-changing God should change our lives. And our priorities. 

God says His church should …

  • Meet needs & support those in the body of Christ
  • Be a light to those outside the church
  • Feed the widows & the needy
  • Teach children and mentor young people
  • Disciple adults to grow in the knowledge & fullness of Christ

And we need the whole Body of Christ, working together, to do this.

WHAT IF YOUR LEADER-HEART IS FRUSTRATED BY UNCOMMITTED VOLUNTEERS?

Keep in mind, God’s ways are not our ways. And he clearly puts more weight on a changed heart than a successful party (or event). So, maybe we should too.

As leaders, if our hearts and minds fill with frustrations or complaints about volunteers, we need a heart change in order to lead His way. 

  • As a leader, are you oozing Love? … Joy … Peace … Patience … Kindness … Goodness … Faithfulness … Gentleness … Self control?
  • Or do you find yourself leaking Frustration? … Impatience … Disappointment … Disillusionment … Exasperation … And even Exhaustion?

A popular quote among church leaders is:

“Ministry would be easy if it weren’t for the people!”

And after the chuckle that brings, we need to do a heart-check and realize … Ministry IS the people. 

This love for His Creation should not only include the people who are the passionate focus of our ministry. It also includes those who sometimes make our lives harder with their seeming lack of follow-through, support, or commitment. The people on our teams. Our volunteers.

Getting your leader-heart right and embracing Biblical Service means fully embracing those same volunteers who drive you crazy. 

AS your ministry. Not as an obstacle to ministry.

This is step one. It is the DO-NOT-COLLECT-$200, DO-NOT-PASS-GO on the monopoly board. 

  • If you are tired and worn out in ministry
  • If you no longer feel the deep joy of serving
  • Or if you feel spiritually lost …

Before anything else, you need to first Reconnect with your First Love. 

I don’t claim to know what that looks like for you. It could be extended Time Away. Adjustment of Priorities. Spiritual Guidance. Deep Fellowship. But I do know that God cares more about your heart than how much you do for Him. (Click here to read more about how that comes first: God Sees You.)

A right heart – your own Passion (call to serve) and Presence (love for people) – needs to come before recruiting and training your team.

Your team will not be successful without embracing the Traits of Biblical Service And it starts with you. 

  • Passion
  • Presence
  • Integrity
  • Hard Work
  • Unity
  • Humility

After you, as a leader, embrace these Biblical Traits, the next step is setting these before your team.

POSITION YOUR VOLUNTEERS TO SUCCEED INSTEAD OF SETTING THEM UP TO FAIL

The truth is that people want to be successful.  

Before getting frustrated with the lack of volunteers, their lack of commitment, or their lack of partnership, we need to develop the grace to see their hearts. And to walk next to them in support and mentorship.

Your volunteers aren’t lazy. And they DO care. They care very deeply about much.

I have never met a person who actually strives to be uncommitted, unreliable, or a quitter.

They may over-commit because they don’t want to disappoint. They may struggle with prioritizing. They may have broken hearts and broken lives.

But the vast majority of people really want to do a good job. They just don’t always know how. 

While sometimes they are actually unable to succeed, often they just don’t know what success looks like.

  • They may need hope
  • They may need training
  • They may need relationship and mentorship

What volunteers don’t need in their lives is more failure.

So let’s set them up to succeed instead.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SERVING?

From the start of visioning your team, the Traits of Biblical Service should be unapologetically presented.

They lay out the WHY of Biblical Service, the HOW of Biblical Service, the HEART of Biblical Service, and even the RIGHT WAY to transition out of a specific ministry area. 

They help people find the true Motivation to serve. Determine their Priorities. And even discover their Calling. 

Ministry Team Building starts BEFORE the “YES

Don’t wait until your volunteers are on board to share these truths.

While training and team building are ongoing, the “YES” itself needs a foundation in Biblical Service.

Would you enter a marriage without Talking about the Future? Knowing your soon-to-be Spouse? Counting the Cost?

Would you accept a job offer without hearing the Company’s Vision? Understanding its Culture? Knowing the Expectations?

A beautiful, life-giving team begins BEFORE the “YES.”

You can’t recruit team members and expect partnership if you haven’t even defined the WHY, the HOW, and the HEART you are looking for.

TEACH YOUR VOLUNTEERS WHAT BIBLICAL SERVICE LOOKS LIKE

Several things happen when team members study Biblical Service together.

  • Hearts change instead of just time commitments
  • Relationships deepen in shared discussion and honesty
  • God’s Word supersedes our personal expectations and opinions

So take a deep dive and explore together:

The WHY of Biblical Service: PASSION (call) and PRESENCE

The HOW of Biblical Service: INTEGRITY and HARD WORK

The HEART of Biblical Service: UNITY and HUMILITY

And even LEAVING WELL:  the RIGHT WAY to transition out of a specific ministry area

Exploring the Traits of Biblical Service as a team will leave a mark on your ministry.

It very well might be a pivotal point in moving forward in the direction God has for your future.

Are there any additional Biblical Traits of Service you would add to the mix above? Please post your comments below. I cherish your input.

COMING NEXT: Exploring the 7 Undeniable Traits of Biblical Service, for the Leader and for the Volunteer

For more on working with volunteers, check these out:

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR FINDING, KEEPING, AND APPRECIATING VOLUNTEERS

WRITE VOLUNTEER JOB DESCRIPTIONS FOR BETTER RESULTS