With Thanksgiving around the corner, many churches will extol the virtues of serving and giving back this Sunday. But how can a church transition from one that sits to one that serves? (And yes, I know the first answer is: preach about it. How many churches have gone the route of a spiritual guilt trip with no success?) If you’re a pastor or leader of any kind in your church, how can you help move the dial from sitting to serving? Here are five steps to get you started:
1). Model it. If you’re a leader, whether you’re paid staff or not, your people will mimic what you do more than what you say. Are you modeling a servant mindset? Do you go out of your way to help others? Do you go the extra mile to serve? Do you go beyond what’s expected of your leadership responsibility or job description? If you want to create a culture of serving, start with you.
2). Make meaningful opportunities. This is mission critical to moving a congregation from sitting to serving, and yet many churches fail here. If there are 100 adults that you want to begin serving but there are only 15 meaningful serving roles, don’t get frustrated when the majority of your congregation serves rather than sits. One of your greatest tasks as a leader is to create meaningful (not mindless) opportunities for people to serve.
3). Tell better stories. Whether your platform is the pulpit or a quick huddle with your volunteers five minutes before church starts, learn to become a better story teller. Stories of how serving changes lives (both of the server and the ones served) are the greatest motivational and recruitment tools for serving. Celebrate wins together. Cultivate and communicate great stories. People want to be a part of something greater than themselves. The stories your tell can be that onramp to something greater.
5). Do less for more. I could/should have put this up at the top, but I didn’t want to lose my audience from the beginning. One of the biggest culprits that keep people from serving is the amount of other programming that churches ask their people to attend. Today’s Christian has only a limited amount of hours to give to church activity. If there are programs that people are expected to go to on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, and if there are other activities offered throughout the week, where will the typical Christian have the free time to serve? If you truly want to move your congregation from sitting to serving, begin taking things OFF the calendar, including some of the golden calf programs that have far outlived their usefulness. That will give your people the margin they need to begin serving with excellence.
QUESTION: How else can a church move from sitting to serving?