Lack of leaders is the number one concern I hear as I talk with church leaders. Adult groups (Sunday School classes) are one of the best place to develop leaders. When you enlist your group members to serve, you are developing new leaders. Following are some ideas to help you encourage your members to serve. These ideas focus on adult groups, but apply also to students (youth) and kids (with adaption).
Enlist an Apprentice
Every leader should have an apprentice. An apprentice is not a substitute. An apprentice is someone whom you are training on the job to do ministry. He or she watches what you do, learns from you, practices ministry while you watch, and eventually goes out to serve by himself or herself. For example, an apprentice teacher would teach once a month until he or she felt comfortable teaching a group of his or her own. Whatever your place of leadership, enlist an apprentice.
Provide Places to Serve
Does your group provide places for members to serve? Some leaders try to do it all alone and leave no place for others to serve. Sometime we communicate that the only way to serve is as a “teacher.” Organize your group with places for others to serve. For example, organize your group with outreach leaders, ministry/care group leaders, prayer leaders, and fellowship leaders. (You can think of other ideas for ministry leaders also.) When you organize your group for ministry, you give others opportunities to find fulfillment through ministry and at the same time accomplish more than you could ever do by yourself.
Know Your Members’ Giftedness
How well do you know your group members? Do you know how God has gifted them? Have you helped them discover their gifts? People don’t find fulfillment by filling a slot; they find fulfillment when they use their gifts to serve God and others. Help your members discover how God has gifted them. Then help them find a place to use that giftedness in service.
Ask Members to Serve
Most persons won’t volunteer to serve; you have to ask them. Don’t be afraid to ask person to serve. People will appreciate being asked (even if they say, “No”). Sometimes when you ask someone to serve in one area, he or she will decline that offer but volunteer to serve in another. Often it helps to ask members to try out a place of service serve for a short time or to let them know they can resign at any time. Remember, most persons won’t serve unless they are personally enlisted.
Encourage Members to Serve
As you lead your group, continually encourage your members to serve others. Model service for them. Help them find opportunities to serve. Help them deal with issues that arise as they serve. Celebrate service. Make service to others a clear expectation for members in your group. Ask them to serve and encourage them to serve.
What can you do to enhance the level of service among your members?
Bob Wood serves the Baptist State Convention of Michigan in the areas of church strengthening and leadership development.