20% + 1

Your prayers for volunteers have been answered! But are they fit for ministry?

You’re one the 20%. You know what it’s like to be doing work for the church late into the night with little help or resources. You know what it’s like to sit on multiple committees for concurrent ongoing projects and have wondered what you got yourself into. You also know the Jesus did say this great work wasn’t meant for the few and as such you should pray for help.

So you pray and your prayers are seemingly answered when someone comes to you asking to join your ministry………

But are your prayers really answered? If an individual seeks to volunteer their time to help the ministry should they just be allowed to join with no questions asked? After writing two posts on the topic of why most church members don’t help and how the “few” that do help struggle to find help, I have found myself focusing on this next important question:

What actually qualifies a person for ministry?

Is it simply being baptized and filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit? Anyone who has been in a leadership position knows what it is like to have a someone offer to volunteer their time only to have them cause more problems than they solve. Below are just a few items to think critically about when considering someone for ministry and to take to the Lord in prayer.

Do they live and maintain the consecrated life?

Do they pray and fast regularly? Do they read and know their Bible? How often do they attend church and support ministry functions that relate to them? Is it natural for them to share their faith with others? When it is time for altar call during church services, do they pray with others or run for the back door? It must be understood that those who work in ministry especially are to be walking advertisements of Christ. People will subconsciously look at their actions and appearance and characterize them with what a Christian ought to act and look like. This especially includes behaviour outside of church where Christ ought to shine in them more than anywhere else. Ask yourself this: If you were to stumble upon a potential volunteer’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page, would you be able to see the light of Christ shining through what they post? Would you be able to tell that they are Christian? Does their Whatsapp profile pic reflect Christ-like values and the standards of your local church? You may think it is an invasion of privacy to “creep” a person’s social media profiles in this manner but if they are being considered for ministry, there can be no other public mechanism like social media to potentially share their faith with masses with a simple click. I harp on this point because I believe if secular companies take social media seriously, so should we. Consider the following excerpts I took from a secular company’s social media policy that we will call “Company X”:

Realize the internet is a public, permanent space and anonymity cannot be expected or guaranteed. Even if you add/edit/delete comments or posts they are part of a permanent record. Once your words are out there you can’t take them back, so be careful, considerate and professional. Realize your comments and posts reflect on you as a individual and on Company X. When in doubt, don’t post.
Social networks blur your personal and professional life and expose them to others. Remember that at any given time, customers and colleagues may be able to access your online content.
While we recognize that your social media content is your own, it is expected that you will adhere to these guidelines when using these communication channels. Failure to exercise appropriate discretion and adherence to these guidelines may result in consequences…….

If a person wants to join ministry, we should remember that a Christian’s core purpose is to share Christ in everything they do. If a person struggles to do this at church, on the street and online, you better believe they’re gonna struggle to do it in a more official ministry capacity and potentially set the wrong example in the process.

Do they respect authority?

Do they understand that they are called to work together with their leaders as they work with God? How can you tell if potential staff respects your authority? Simply observe what time they arrive for services at church. I can tell you from experience that bringing people in who do not respect authority will spread that mindset like a disease and if not dealt with, before you know it, you’ll have a legion of volunteers doing only what they want and not what’s required. This is why you see many folks with great singing voices who want to sing the solo but are always late for practice or do not show up at all without telling anyone. Or the guy who wants to run the video live-stream but refuses to understand the importance of showing up early to prepare to communicate instructions to other staff.

Do they understand the sacrifice of ministry?

Are they the kind of person who just will blindly do as you say? Or will they take time to pray for the success of their ministry on their own without being told? Will they find ways to improve the ministry or will they wait for you to come up with all the ideas? What you want to find in volunteers is passion for Christ and his will. Without passion you will end up with people who will only work if you tell them to and you’ll end up having to control them like a character in a video game. You want to be surrounded by people with a passion for ministry full of the love of Christ and robust faith (1 Tim. 1:5) and have the character of a hard working Christian (1 Tim. 2:15)

Speak to your Pastor

Chances are he may know more about the person than you do. This is something that I always do before bringing anyone new on board. The insight, whatever little it may be is worth the inquiry.

Do they still have “sin issues” to deal with?

I won’t say much about this other than leaving this quote from 2 Timothy 2:20 (TLB):

In a wealthy home there are dishes made of gold and silver as well as some made from wood and clay. The expensive dishes are used for guests, and the cheap ones are used in the kitchen or to put garbage in. 21 If you stay away from sin you will be like one of these dishes made of purest gold — the very best in the house — so that Christ himself can use you for his highest purposes.

I don’t claim to have all the answers but I do hope that what I have shared above will get ministry leaders thinking critically about who they surround themselves with. While I do not believe we need to go “FBI” on people, the work of the Lord is serious business and if Christ is meant to only the use “the very best in the house”, adding people to ministry should not be taken as a light matter.

If you are a ministry leader or pastor, what general processes do you utilize when considering a volunteer a for ministry? What makes them fit for ministry? Feel free to comment here on Medium below or anywhere else on social media where this article is posted.

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Also check out my friend Monique’s enjoyable and insightful blog posts whenever you have a chance. She’s an old fashioned girl who writes from the heart. I’m sure you’ll find her posts to be a breath of fresh air as much as I have.

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