Sometimes It Does Depend on Me + 6 Ways to Serve In Your Church

MRM_9413_001It may be because Drew’s a redhead, but his bright red cheeks told me he was tired. It was one of his last soccer games of the season, and only the minimum number of players showed up. That meant lots of playing time – yay! – but no breaks. Eventually it looked like the whole team was playing in slow motion.

They were exhausted.

My previous post was a lesson I learned that when it comes to serving in the church (or anywhere really), it doesn’t all depend on me, no matter how much I may think it does. But as anyone serving in the church knows, there are times in fact when it seems that if you don’t do it, no one literally will.

That’s why I felt it necessary to follow up on that post with a friendly reminder that sometimes it does depend on me – and you. 

You’ve probably heard that in any given organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I’m not sure if that’s an official statistic or a quotable quote, but I’d say it’s pretty accurate.

Why is the minority doing the majority of the work? Sometimes, granted, the minority can be control freaks and want everything their way. (I’m not pointing fingers…you saw my last post about hating group projects. Most of the time I ended up doing all the work because I wanted it done my way. Guilty.)

But sometimes it’s simply because the whole team isn’t showing up to the game. There are no subs, and the players – while they love the game – are exhausted and desperately need a water break.

So let me encourage us all to come to the game. In a church setting, here are just a few suggestions:

1. Be attentive to the communicated needs. Maybe you’re a horrible cook so providing a dish for pot luck may not be your thing, but helping clean up afterward is something you can do. On the flip side, maybe you have young kids and can’t stay late to clean up, but you can certainly bring a dish.

2. Seek out serving opportunities in areas that interest you. Don’t wait to be asked. If you love music, ask the music director if you can come to choir practice. If you have a passion for the elderly, ask a pastor how you can help meet their needs. The list is endless.

3. Volunteer for the church nursery or to serve in Children’s Church. When you serve there, you’re not only serving the children (obviously) and the parents (clearly), but you’re serving the other workers. I remember when Drew was a baby and we had lots of babies and not enough workers, and Matt and I were in nursery two out of every three Sundays. We rarely got to be in worship and listen to biblical teaching we so desperately needed. If you volunteer, you’ll be contributing to the rotation, allowing everyone to be in worship more often.

4. Participate in the church’s outreach events. Again, the more who serve, less work is shouldered by few. Plus, serving alongside your brothers and sisters in your church is a huge blessing!

5. Be there. You can’t very well do or even know about the above items if you’re not present with your local church regularly. Make it a priority to serve God through the ministries of your local church.

6. Pray about where God would have you serve in your local church. This should probably be #1. Jesus moves and grows his kingdom through the local church. Don’t dismiss that. He has equipped you uniquely to use your gifts to serve through the local church. And there are few things more fulfilling than exercising those gifts for the glory of God and for his kingdom.

God doesn’t call us to be mere spectators in kingdom work any more than he expects us to do all the work. It’s a team effort.

Come on, team, let’s all come to the game and play.

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The Overlooked Ministries of Vacation Bible School

Untitled design(4)I love Vacation Bible School. I know that sounds strange coming from a person who isn’t the slightest bit gifted with children. I don’t teach in VBS; I don’t do crafts in VBS; I don’t do recreation in VBS; I don’t do music in VBS. In fact I barely even bump elbows with children in our Vacation Bible School.

So why do I love it so much?

I can see Vacation Bible School from a different perspective. This week, during our church’s VBS, I couldn’t help but notice that the ministry of VBS can actually go beyond its main purpose, which, of course, is to share the gospel with children.

Here are 3 often overlooked ministries of a vibrant Vacation Bible School:

1. Ministry to Adults. I can vouch that not all parents with children want to work with children. For the past three years I’ve taught an adult VBS class while the children are in class. This year I’ve seen relationships formed between parents, other adults in the church, and newcomers in the church that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Those bonds created during VBS will most likely carry on long after the closing program.

→Put it into action: Offer an adult VBS class and specifically invite parents who are new to the church, parents who haven’t come to church but are bringing their children, adults without children in the home, and parents who have older children plus babies or toddlers (if they’re not working in VBS they will welcome the break for adult fellowship). Focus on a discussion-friendly setup, which will open the door to new relationships being formed in the class. Have a few parents in your church committed to the class to ensure multiple potential for connections with guests.  Allow parents to observe the opening services before the class begins so they can see what their children are doing and feel more of a connection with the VBS and the church as a whole.

2. Discipleship opportunities. One night as I was headed home in the dark, I drove by a dad in our church walking another boy to his home a few blocks away. It touched me that he went out of his way to watch out for this boy’s safety and to invest in life-giving conversation along the way. Just as these two don’t normally cross paths frequently in normal church activities, I saw other relationships being built between adults and youth, adults and college students, older adults and young adults, and older youth and older children. Whether these spiritual mentors are teaching them or simply working alongside each other, discipleship opportunities are ripe to emerge.

→Put it into action: Strategically place youth, college students, and adults alongside one another in specific areas of VBS, such as crafts, recreation, the kitchen, registration, and security. By placing those of different ages and backgrounds alongside one another, relationships are ripe to form and both friendships and unscripted mentoring can occur.

3. The Ministry of a Fully-Functioning Body. My heart swells when I see the diversity of spiritual gifts and talents being exercised at VBS. Those gifted in teaching children prepare for hours and excitedly welcome each child to class. The ones gifted in music, recreation, and crafts lovingly work with each child in the church. The nurses are available for every ache and injury. The ladies and gentlemen in the kitchen work hard to provide food for the workers and children.  Those with the gifts of hospitality make the parents and children feel at home. Those with the talents of photography, administration, and other strengths play their role. Watching this relatively seamless blending of spiritual gifts for the greater purpose of sharing the gospel with children and families is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ at work.

→Put it into action: In preparing for Vacation Bible School, communicate with your congregation that help is needed in all areas, not only teaching of children. As everyone exercises their own areas of gifting, they can know they were a part of this ministry just as the teachers do. And just like what was mentioned above, relationships can be formed that build the unity of the church, with everyone uniting around a common goal.

Vacation Bible School is one of the best outreach tools many churches have all year, so let’s not stop at seeing it as an outreach to children only. By ministering to adults, developing relationships across the ages, and functioning in all areas of God’s varied gifting, we can see it as the multi-faceted disciple-making tool that it is.

 

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