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Mobilizing Believers for Ministry

By: Steve Mills

Mobilizing believers is a core characteristic of the 21st-century church. The church must be intentional about helping people find their places in ministry and become members of the believers priesthood.

Your system or process for mobilizing believers for ministry must be right for your church. You must design your unique process and continue developing it in the context of your church's structure, strategies, and vision.

You may view the mobilizing process as a railroad bridge and track crossing a canyon. The bridge and track move people from one side of the canyon, a place of no ministry, to the other side, a place of ministry. Let's use this metaphor to think through the mobilizing process. We can visualize a bridge and track with three pillars and nine crossties.

Three Pillars

The pillars represent supporting structures that must be in place as we begin the mobilization process.

Vision. Development of an effective structure and process begins with vision. Have a clear understanding of your purposes and goals, and prepare yourself to communicate your vision to a planning team. All team members must share a vision of their ministry as essential in the process of fulfilling the Great Commission. This vision moves the church into preparation and planning to develop and implement believer mobilization.

Leadership. Select and develop a leadership team to manage the mobilization process. This team includes the team leader, interviewers, ministry coaches, and trainers; and it provides training in ministry skills, support, recognition, feedback, and evaluation.

Management. Administrative support must be available, with resources and procedural plans in place. This includes a system for tracking members and their involvement in ministry.

Ministry opportunities and descriptions must be identified, developed, and communicated. Evaluation forms, budgeting, scheduling, facilities, support, and policies are part of the management pillar.

Nine Crossties

The crossties represent sections or stages in the mobilization process.

Connecting. Help everyone connect with your church's vision, strategy, values, ministries, and people. Provide a newcomers class. Communicate the mission, vision, values, strategy, and ministries of your church. Describe the benefits for and expectations of those who join the church.

Some churches use a short 3-or 4-hour seminar called Discovering Church 101. It communicates information to newcomers and concludes with their signing a commitment card. Churches effective in mobilizing believers have high expectations of members and also provide greater benefit to those who join. A few ministries, such as making contacts for the church, are appropriate for uncommitted believers or even non-believers. However, ministries that involve teaching, modeling, equipping, and discipling require connected and committed people.

Connect people with groups where they can build meaningful relationships. Enroll them in a Sunday school class and other small groups where they can connect and grow spiritually.

Provide the discipleship necessary for service. Each person should understand and begin to practice basic habits necessary for spiritual growth and ministry, including prayer, Bible study, worshiping and studying with other believers, and sharing one's faith with others.

Orientation. People must discover the meaning and importance of ministry. Help them understand and accept their identity in Christ. Explain the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and biblical guidelines for using their God-given gifts. Help them understand the church's mission. Teach about the place of service in one's spiritual development. Discuss spiritual maturity and why it is required for effective ministry.

Lay the foundation here for more in-depth teaching that will follow.

Discovery. Leaders must help believers discover their God-given gifts, calling, personality strengths and limitations, interests, abilities, motivations, and skills. People need to discover God's unique design for them and their lives. Many churches guide people through ministry or spiritual gifts assessments as well as personality or temperament profiles.

Using profiles is not essential. You can help believers discover their gifts, skills, and calling through experimentation, godly counsel, and input and confirmation from other believers.

Expose believers to a variety of needs. People migrate toward needs for which they have passion and gifts to support it.

Tom completed Church 101, 201, and 301 and has come in for an interview. He finished the "Discovery" section. In talking to Tom about his gifts, passion, experiences, and temperament, we discover that he has a passion for and is gifted in teaching (he teaches at the local middle school). There is a need for a junior high Sunday school teacher, but is it the place for Tom? As the interview continues, we learn about his life experiences. He went to church occasionally as a boy, got married at 21, and had his first child 4 months later. Six months ago, he gave his life to Christ after going through a messy divorce. We discover that he is dealing with two life-controlling issues: pornography and alcohol.

How do we best help Tom develop spiritually while also finding an appropriate place of service? He should not be placed as teacher in the junior high Sunday school class. We introduce him to Mark who has found victory over the same kinds of life-controlling issues. Mark will help Tom deal with personal problems. We suggest that Tom serve as a greeter and usher for the next 6 months, and he agrees. Six months later, Tom meets with a coach to assess his spiritual development. Tom has grown significantly and is ready to move into an apprentice role in the youth ministry.

Interview. Interviewers are ministering believers who get to know people and help guide them in spiritual development. The interviewer should be a wise, godly, discerning leader who can discuss with the individual what he is learning about himself and God's plan for his life and ministry. The interviewer helps the believer see how what he is discovering about himself applies to personal life, family and work, as well as to the church's needs and vision.

Some believers may be in situations where moving into ministry is inappropriate at this time. They may be in a crisis or transition such as personal, family, or financial problems. They need to move into a setting where they can find support and nurture until they are ready for the ministry development process.

For the church's health and the spiritual development of the individual it is essential that believers be placed or allowed to remain only in places of ministry for which they are spiritually qualified.

Matching. During the interview, the believer learns about ministry options and finds an appropriate place to discover and develop his gifts and calling further.

The interviewer needs a list of ministry descriptions and available places to serve. Valuable and meaningful places of service must be identified. The church may not have a ministry suitable to a particular believer's passion and giftedness. This may be the time to develop a new ministry that helps the church fulfill its vision and mission.

Placement. When the person finds a place of ministry, he meets with the leader and team with whom he will be working. The team leader reviews the ministry description again with the individual so there is a clear understanding of what is involved. The ministry candidate is given freedom to explore and experiment. He may discover this is not what he is best suited for, so he returns to the "Matching" step to explore other ministry options.

Training. The primary purpose is specialized training for a specific ministry, such as usher, greeter, small group leader, Sunday school teacher or worker.

Training helps believers maximize their ministry gifts and provides opportunities for each to find a place of belonging, support, and relationship with fellow ministers. They develop a sense of community.

Coaching. Here ongoing ministry training occurs, providing continued development for all ministering believers. The coach, generally the ministry team leader, helps to nurture, support, and evaluate. The coach monitors spiritual growth and ministry effectiveness as well as burnout of team members.

Rewarding. Encouragement, celebration, exit interviews, and ministry changes constitute the "Rewarding" section. In this section, those moving into other ministry positions or into leadership responsibilities are recognized and rewarded. Recognition for excellence in ministry builds into the life of the church the value that ministry is expected and respected. It helps the church perpetuate the value of "every member a minister."

Constructing your Believer Mobilization Bridge will greatly increase your effectiveness in building people and advancing the kingdom of God.

For a list of resources and tools for mobilizing believers, click here.

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