When you need a ministry role filled, it’s easy to get hung up on finding someone who checks all the boxes. You might be looking for a three-in-one ministry leader.
Take the example of a Sunday school ministry leader. To fill that role, you ideally want someone who can network and recruit volunteers, train and develop those volunteers, and then provide support and organization for the ongoing ministry. If you can find someone who can do all of that…great! But that’s a very specific mix of gifts and skills and it can be hard to find in just one person. What then?
The three-in-one ministry leader
You can piece together three-in-one ministry leaders! Here’s what I mean…
- Find one person who is good at networking and recruiting and orient them to just that role. They find new volunteers for the Sunday school program; that is their only role.
- Then look for a different person who is gifted at orienting, training, and developing new leaders. They take the newly recruited volunteers and train them in the basics of what they need to know to serve in their Sunday school roles. When that preparation period is complete, that person’s role is finished.
- From there, we look for a third person, someone who can provide solid coordination for ongoing ministry, including scheduling and support for the current Sunday school team members.
An empowering and accessible option
You can see how each of these three ministry leaders not only has different gifts, but how they are likely to be wired differently, and passionate about different types of ministry than one another. This way they each get to focus on what they’re good at and what they care about most. Plus, there’s the added benefit of there being less of a time commitment for each of those three individuals. That reality makes it more likely that volunteers will serve in those roles without burning out or becoming overwhelmed. It’s a win-win!
I’ve done something similar at various points when I served as a senior pastor: I’d partition off small segments of ministry and assigning them to people with the right giftedness and interests.
People think you can’t delegate preaching, but you can if you think about it strategically enough. I had one woman in my congregation who was interested in theological studies and enjoyed reading various commentaries. I tasked her with reading up on the passage or topic I was going to preach on and write up a digest for me. There was also had a man who loved to do historical and cultural studies. I would periodically ask him to research potential illustrations for me: how the Brooklyn bridge was made, for instance.
These people were gifted researchers and they loved their roles. Neither had any desire for public recognition or to speak from up front themselves—in fact, both would have gone out of their ways to avoid it. But their gifts were put to use in these ways, and enriched my sermons of that era greatly—without me having to spend an extra 8-10 hours studying commentaries and background information.
My wife Janet did something similar when she taught young children in the church. Janet is a natural teacher. She met another woman with the gift of service and heart for children—but who didn’t feel comfortable teaching. This woman helped Janet by using her gifts to prepare art supplies before each class. Then she stayed to help kids one-on-one with the art projects while Janet taught. She loved this role and learned that what she had to contribute was indeed important and made a difference to the kids.
You aren’t always going to find someone who checks all the boxes. But between two and three people you can cover all the facets of a larger role. Find out what people are good at and piece it together like a puzzle. That’s the body of Christ, with all of its parts working together.
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