If you have spent any time in church leadership you know the danger in making a bad hire or recruiting the wrong volunteer. You spend time and energy trying to “fix” them. You worry about firing them or asking them to leave. You inevitably fire them or ask them to leave. The ministry suffers. Odds are that their relationship with your church will never be the same. There is a danger that their relationship with Jesus will suffer - I’ve seen it happen.
The best method to prevent a bad ministry ending is to never let it have a beginning. I have found asking myself three questions before making a hire or approaching a potential volunteer to be helpful.
1. Whose bucket are they filling?
My first job out of college was teaching middle school. A wise principal and mentor of mine often said that teachers have one of two basic motivations for being a teacher. They either are there to fill their own bucket or to fill the bucket of others. Teachers are in it for the emotional, feel-good affirmation of being a teacher (filling their emotional bucket) or they are selflessly dedicated to helping students and families (filling the bucket of others). I believe this principle applies to working or volunteering in a church. You are either in it for your own needs (affirmation, proving that you love Jesus, guilt) or are sold out for making disciples for Jesus. It is crucial that you discern the unstated, often clouded motivation of someone who you might ask to serve. If they are in it to fill their own bucket, their focus will be on themselves and their particular ministry program. If they are in it to fill the bucket of others, they will breathe life into your entire ministry and impact people.
2. Are they focused on the people we are trying to reach?
People who are eager to serve on a church staff or volunteer often have awesome intentions and will be an asset on your team. Occasionally, what may seem to be a good intention is a mask hiding a personal agenda. It may sound nice when Nancy applies for a job in your Children’s Ministry because she “thinks it needs improvement.” After all, it may need improvement. It might sound like a good intention when Ken, a recently retired executive, volunteers to organize your hospitality ministry because “we need to be more organized around here.” That is probably true! Nancy and Ken have agendas - and they may not even know it. You don’t want their agendas, even if they are right. You want servants focused on reaching people. I’d rather have someone who just plain loves kids serving in Children’s ministry. I’d rather have someone who likes serving people volunteer in hospitality. I want people who are sold out for the vision of our church.
3. Do I want to hang out with this person?
This one is simple. You will be spending time with this person. Possibly a lot of time. Do you want to spend time with them? Do they give you energy or do they cost you energy? If the answer is no, save yourself from future problems and don’t hire or recruit them.
What questions do you ask yourself before making an “ask” of someone? Let me know!
Jesus often gave odd advice. If he were employed as a consultant or life coach, he probably would have been fired several times. When confronted with weighty issues, Jesus often flipped logic on its head and gave what appeared to be counterintuitive guidance. A few examples:
There is a lesson for church leaders in the counterintuitive manner in which Jesus often dispensed advice. In church work, the best answer is often not the most obvious or logical one. Unusual thinking helps.
Logic says: Get more members/disciples by creating more programs
Unusual Thinking says: Program focused churches do not grow.
Logic says: Think big to grow big.
Unusual Thinking says: Think small to grow big.
Logic says: If we keep our members happy, they will attend church more and we will grow.
Unusual Thinking says: Keeping members happy leads to a slow death.
Logic says: We should do what the successful church down the street is doing.
Unusual Thinking says: That won’t work.
Logic says: People will give more money if they are kept happy.
Unusual Thinking says: Money follows mission and vision, not happy people
Anyone sitting around your staff or volunteer leadership table can offer a logical opinion. Your job as a leader in the church is to encourage unusual thinking to reveal the best options and then champion the direction you are headed.
What unusual thoughts are you thinking for your church? Let me know!
In a previous post, I explained the benefit of getting outdoors for people who work in a ministry. As a church worker, you are busy and time is limited. One often overlooked benefit of working at a church is that your time is often flexible. At least, more flexible than many other jobs. You aren’t required to punch a timecard or wait for a whistle to blow before going to lunch. Your employer is likely understanding of family situations and realizes that ministry is taxing. Take advantage of your flexible environment. Schedule time to get away from your office and get outside. Here are twelve methods I try to use to get outside. I hope you can use a few of them in your attempt to get out more often.
What ways do you find to get outdoors more often? Let me know!