Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church – 2018 Church Involvement Conference January 19 & 20

Month: August 2015

Personality is Powerful

Personality is Powerfulpersonality-test

We’ve all heard how folks describe others folks as “pushy,” “shy,” “responsible,” “determined,” “persevering,” “fun,” “serious,” etc.   These are adjectives that are used to describe people and they are just another way of referring to someone’s personality.

I think it is imperative and beneficial for churches to do some study on personality types.   Much of the conflict within the family, the work place, our schools and in the church is caused by personality clashing. Personalities can complement each other or cause conflict.   We get to choose which we wish it to be.   We are either going to let the flesh rule us or God’s Spirit (Gal.5:16-26).   One is a curse and the other is a blessing.

Yes, there is conflict because of one’s opinions, one’s upbringing and one’s education, but most conflict comes as a result of one’s personality.   Your personality greatly determines how you deal with your opinions (and those of other folks) and how you treat others.

We are fortunate that much study has already been done in this area.   The two personality inventories with which we are most familiar are the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) Personality Profile and Gary Smalley’s LOGB profile (see his book Making Love Last Forever, chapter 10).   I now have my own that I recently produced in our “I Serve U” series.

Consider the following about your personality:

Your personality type is neither good nor evil; it just is.   There is debate about the origin of your personality which I will not discuss here. However, your personality is the one thing that makes you YOU.   I believe that it is God-given, and when used properly, it becomes a great blessing at work, in the home and in the church.

Your personality is either ruled by your flesh or by the Spirit of God. The personality ruled by the flesh causes all sorts of problems (see Gal.5:19-21) while the personality ruled by the Spirit of God creates all sorts of good and beneficial things (see Gal.5:22-23).     Paul told the Corinthian Christians that they were fleshly.   We can see the corresponding problems they had because they were fleshly (e.g. immorality, divisiveness, insensitive, etc.).   However, when a person is ruled by the Spirit, he/she becomes loving, joyful, peaceful, etc.   When God rules your personality, good things happen (there is peace and personalities complement each other).   However, if you are ruled by your flesh, bad things happen.   You get to choose which you wish to be.

You need to recognize that others have differing personalities.   There are basically four personality types.   Depending how you ‘name’ them they are Lion, Otter, Beaver and Golden Retriever (or DISC: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance).   When you recognize these different personality types and you learn what each is, you can see God’s wisdom in His design.   If we were all the same, most of us would be unnecessary.   We need lions to lead, otters for fun, beavers to get the work done and golden retrievers to promote harmony and peace.   This may be an over simplification, but it does illustrate what I’m saying here. We need to appreciate others’ personality types and use this recognition for His glory.   When we do, we complement each other.   Recognizing and appreciating one another’s gifts is not enough; we must also recognize and appreciate each other’s personalities.

Some Scriptural principles that promote personalities complementing one another:

John 13:34-35 – paraphrased: love one another as Christ loved us with an unselfish love. I may not like your personality, but I am committed to loving you and wanting what is best for you unconditionally.   Love endures all things and never fails.   When we love this way, we better understand and appreciate each other.   This takes submission to the Lord and the pay-off is huge.

Ephesians 5:21 – submit to one another as unto the Lord.   This carries with it the idea of recognizing and appreciating others’ gifts and personalities and cooperating with each other in fulfilling the mission of Christ.

Romans 15:7 – accept one another.   Believe it or not, there are folks that you do not like simply because of their personality.   However, in the Lord’s church I must accept you fully because we are ‘blood relatives’ in the Lord. Most of the acceptance we see in the world and in the church today is shallow at best; it is based upon something we have in common (e.g. sports, education, children, hobbies, friends).   It is ‘conditional’ love. However, we are to accept each other (with all our imperfections) because Christ accepted us that way.

We need all four personality types to do the work of the church.   I’ve already referred to this, but I want to say this again.   As Paul told the Corinthian church that not all members are hands, or feet, etc., the same could be said when it comes to personalities. Not all of us are otters or lions or beavers or golden retrievers.   We are a divine blend of all.   One brother said, “If we were all the same, we’d be bored.”   I’ll add—the work of the church probably would not get done.

Is this found in the Bible?     While it is not the case that the Holy Spirit mentions the four different personality types by name, He does reveal them to us in the different Biblical characters.   If you read closely the stories about Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Esau, David, Ruth, Esther, Naomi, Peter, Paul, Matthew, Barnabas, etc. you can see the differences in them.   Part of that difference is obviously personality.

A practical application in today’s church:   when forming a committee or a work crew, an elder, deacon or ministry leader should pick folks from all four personality types.     They will need a leader (Lion).   They will need hard working folks (Beavers). They will need folks who will work as long as it takes to get the work done (Golden Retrievers).   And, they need folks to make it fun (Otters).   This is what we tell our leaders to do.

You will also find the most productive elderships include more than one personality type.

In some sense, each of us is characterized with all four of these personality types.

Even though I may not be a ‘lion’ there is a bit of a lion in me.   However, each of us has a dominant personality type that needs to be recognized, appreciated and controlled by God’s Spirit.

When doing inventories, assessments and coaching in the Lord’s church, please help members discover their personality types and assist them in using them for His glory.

Trav

About Travis Irwin

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Travis Irwin has been in ministry for forty-eight years and has ministered to and trained teens, college age, older members, singles, teachers, financial and marriage counselors, new Christians and church leadership.  He has since added church involvement and religious coaching.

His original training was in church education.   However, the Lord had other plans and he entered into evangelistic/pulpit work early in his career and did so for over thirty years.   He is presently assisting church members in discovering God’s special design for them and showing churches how to get members involved in ministry.

He and his wife of forty-four years, Debbie Sadler Irwin, have three grown children and one grandchild.  They reside in Athens, TN and work and worship with the Athens church of Christ there.    He can be reached by phone/text at 423 920 3060 or emailed at travisirwin@att.net

6 Areas of Assistance: How Inventories, Assessments & Coaching Can Help the Local Church

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6 Areas of Assistance

(1)  Preparing for Future Leaders

What men among you have the gifts of pastoring, leadership and exhortation?   Those with these gifts have the capacity of becoming great elders in the Lord’s church simply because of their giftedness.  If their gifts are developed and they are trained in the Biblical roles of leaders, they can become great leaders one day.   Every church should be developing future leaders today.    When future leaders discover their gifts and are coached, they are better prepared to lead.   The greatest benefactor is the local church wherein these men will be leading.

(2)  Improving the Present Leadership

Do any of your present leaders have the gift of pastoring?   Administration?   Teaching?   Evangelism?  Service? Are these gifts being used intentionally?   What are the pre-dominate personality traits of the leadership members?   Do the different personality traits complement or conflict with each other? What are the present passions of the leadership?   How are these affecting the mission of the local church?   The ultimate goal of discovering each of these is to improve communication and unity among the present leadership.

(3)  Growing the Church Numerically

How are your present ministries contributing to the numerical growth of your church?   When church members discover, develop and deploy their gifts, passions, and life skills, the church becomes more attractive to the lost and the church grows numerically.  When local needs are served, the community takes notice and becomes more receptive to your message.   When members use their gifts and energize their passions, they begin to reach out to the lost—and the church grows as a result.

(4)  Growing the Church Spiritually

Most Christians do not know what their spiritual gifts are.   When they discover their gifts and passions and put them to work, they grow spiritually.   When they are filled with the Spirit, they produce the fruit of the Spirit and they grow spiritually.   They become mature servants.    This, in my estimation, is helping Christians become complete in Christ.

(5)  Promotion of Unity

While some churches have doctrinal unity, few ever attain mission unity.  When members and leadership are shown how their gifts work in unison for common goals, there is unity.   Other benefits are an air of expectation and excitement in the church.

(6)  Other Applications

The information that assessments and inventories gain can help with pre-marital and marital counseling.     It can also help leadership when seeking new staff and it can be make the interview process more profitable.   We can also assist a church in discovering helpful information when new leaders are being considered or being installed.    With good information, church leaders are put into leadership assignments that ‘best fit’ them.

Equipping Members for Service

There is much being said and written about dying churches today.   I would suggest one reason may be a lack of involvement.   In most churches, the majority of members are not involved in the work of the church: they have no real investment or ownership in the local church. When every member is encouraged to serve, equipped to serve and empowered to serve, the retention rate will increase and members will become more like the disciples God designed them to be.

Trav

Request a questionnaire, that when answered, will enable me to better assist you in any or all of these areas.   Contact me at travisirwin@att.net

You Are Gifted

giftsYou Are Gifted

You’ve heard of ‘gifted’ children and you’ve heard of folks who have been given large ‘gifts’ of money.   Most of us think everyone else is gifted, but us.   Wrong!   Every child of God is a ‘gifted child’ and I’m not just referring to the gift of Jesus.

The gifts are mentioned in several places in the New Testament (Rom.12; 1 Cor.12; Eph.4; 1 Peter 4).   Some of these gifts were miraculous and temporary and others are still around today.   Those around today are permanent and we enjoy them in the church today.   Consider 5 principles about these spiritual gifts:

The Principle of Balanced Thinking

The Corinthian brethren had a “pride issue” with their gifts that in turn caused a great deal of turmoil in the church there.   Rom.12:3 says we ought not to think more highly of ourselves than we should.   We must remember that our spiritual gift(s) is/are from God. Balanced thinking is realizing we have no room to boast.

The Principle of “Universal” Giftedness

Every Christian has a gift. No one is left out. There are no exceptions. No one can say, “I don’t have a gift.”   That is a lie; we all have at least one spiritual gift.

The Principle of Diversity that Contributes to Unity

No two Christians are alike.   However, this diversity, when handled God’s way, contributes to the unity of the church.   It actually makes the church stronger and able to do more for His glory.

The Principle of Interdependence

No individual Christian can say, “I don’t need you” or “I’m not important.” We are in need of each other which means that each of us is important and vital to the welfare of the whole.

The Principle of the Common Good

We are not gifted for our personal good or for a small portion of the body. When we exercise our gifts properly, the whole church is blessed.

Trav

People or Programs?

ChurchVolunteersPeople or Programs?

The Lord’s church is in the “people business.”   The Lord came for people. The church is about people. The Lord sends us out into the world everyday for people.   The church has been known, however, to be about “programs.”     We promote programs, we resource programs, we start programs, we join programs.   But the main concern of Christ has always been (and always will be) PEOPLE.

What about people?   Listen to Paul:

 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man

with all wisdom that we may present every man complete in Christ.

(Colossians 1:28)

Our resources need to go into developing people to be followers of Christ. Our resources include time, money, possessions and talent.   Our programs (ministries) are where people are developed and formed into the image of Christ.   Ministries are a means not an end in themselves.

What are the benefits of developing people?

  1. A strong congregation of committed disciples of Christ.
  2. Seeing people change and grow is more exciting than programs.
  3. We are intentionally fulfilling the Lord’s purpose.

To facilitate this emphasis, we must start doing the following when it comes to molding people into the image of Christ:

  1. We must move from standardization to customization; we need to focus on the individual’s needs versus trying to deal with everyone the same.
  2. Move from being rigid to becoming more receptive; in other words, create an environment that is conducive to learning and personal growth.
  3. From Scripting to Shaping Scriptures; this is moving from ‘always learning’ to doing (applying what we learn).   We must emphasize changed behavior as well as a knowledge of God’s Word.
  4. From participation to maturation.   While participation is important, maturation is more important. Many participate, yet how many are mature?

Brethren, let us never forget that we are in the PEOPLE business.

Trav

Are You Living in the BIGGER Picture?

get-involved-thumb-618x316Are You Living in the BIGGER Picture?

Gideon, like most men of his day, was a farmer.   We are first introduced to him when he is thrashing wheat in a wine press.   He is there because he is hiding from the Midianites who were known to ‘trash’ the crops of the Israelites.   It was a scary time, and Gideon was just trying to farm and provide for this family.

However, the story continues.   The angel of the Lord calls upon Gideon.   When Gideon is addressed by God, God does not call him “farmer Gideon” but “O, valiant warrior.”   Huh?   How could this be?

Gideon questions why God would allow harm to come to the people of Israel. He also wonders where all the miracles are that his forefathers had enjoyed in Egypt.   Gideon felt defeated and abandoned by God.

God gave Gideon the mission of delivering the Israelites from the hands of their oppressors.   Gideon remarked that his tribe was the smallest and that he was the youngest.   God promised to be with him.   Gideon asked for a sign and God gave him one.     Gideon still has doubts: we know this because he sacrifices as God commanded him, yet he did so in private (he was afraid of his own kin folk making fun of him).

With God’s help, Gideon defeats the army of the Midianites (numbering 135,000) with 300 men.   Those are 450:1 odds against him.

Here’s the point:   Gideon was a farmer.   But then, there are others that God has called to mission:   Moses (a shepherd), David (a young shepherd boy), Amos (a dresser of sycamore trees), Joseph (the youngest son), Ruth (a Moabite widow), Joshua (an apprentice), Esther (a poor Jewish girl), Mary (a young girl), Peter, Andrew, James and John (fishermen) and Paul (a lawyer).   God used these men and women for a larger purpose.   Yes, their everyday jobs were important, but God had a BIGGER plan for them.

If you are a teacher, assembly line worker, lineman, home maker, sales person, clerk, accountant, truck driver, non-profit director, peace officer or any thing that you (or others) may think is unimportant, think again.   God has a much BIGGER calling that you will follow within your present occupation and life.   Be open and sensitive to His plans for you.   He has called you to defeat the enemy and change the world around you.   Trav

Maximizing Your Volunteers

cropped-8-Adults-volunteering1.jpg6 Adults volunteeringMaximizing Your Volunteers

We all want reliable, responsible and dependable volunteers.   We assume that since they are Christians, that they will be these things.   But we forget that none of us are perfect.

What can you do, as a ministry leader, to ensure that the volunteers in your ministry, are going to do their best to fulfill your expectations and fill their assignments?

Expect the best.   After all, we are Christians, right?   Love believes the best in others.   This expectation needs to be shared with the volunteer–no pressure intended.   A phrase such as, “I know you will do a wonderful job with this project” can go miles to encourage the volunteer to do well.

Empower for the best.   To empower a volunteer is to give him/her what he/she needs to finish an assignment or project.   Volunteers are empowered when you give them permission to be creative, when you give them the financial means needed, when you avoid micro-managing them, and when you provide any needed training.   Providing extra help in the form of another volunteer can be empowerment.   Empowerment comes also when you encourage the volunteer and compliment him/her on progress or a job well done.

 Emphasize details and expectations.   People can’t read your mind, so you will need to be very specific on what you expect and when you expect it. Don’t assume anything.   Having given specific instruction and time expectations, you check back from time to time to check on the progress of the volunteer.

Expect delays.   Our lives are full of interruptions and emergencies—the unexpected.   This is true also for our volunteers.   There is sickness, weather issues, death, breakdowns, financial setbacks and a host of other unexpected items that can set back a project and slow down progress. Not only should we expect delays, we should plan for them allowing extra time for such things.

We work and worship with the finest people in the world: God’s people. Our task as leaders is to maximize each volunteer to help them to complete projects but also to assist them in spiritual maturity and growth.

Trav

Starting an Involvement Ministry

PieChartPeopleInvolvedStarting an Involvement Ministry In Your Church

 How does a church go about raising the percentage of members involved?   In their book The Other 80 Percent, Scott Thuma and Warren Bird encourage churches to increase the 20% figure (of those who do the work of the local church) to 100% (literally as the book is subtitled, “Turning Your Church’s Spectators into Active Members”).

While they cover the subject in a deeper manner, I want to listen some stages (or phases) through which a congregation must go before they reach the 100% mark.

It Starts with Desire: Do You Really Want Every Member Involved?

There’s an old adage that says, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”   Some leaders are happy with the low percentage because, to them, the work is getting done and nothing is broken.   However, it IS broken when your church is made up of more spectators than active members.     Every member ought to be contributing something to the growth of the church (other than his/her bodily presence and a monetary contribution). Think of all the possibilities (all the things you could do as a church) if everyone was doing something.

If you wish to start an involvement ministry, the desire must be strong.   Excuses come too easily for most churches.

Prayer: Is This God’s Will?

Which comes first: the desire or prayer?   Maybe both.   I can guarantee you that it is God’s Will for each member of the church to become servants.   However, you need to ask God to reveal that to you and to show ‘how’ to go about ‘moving mountains’ and getting started.

Preaching & Teaching:   Informing the Brethren

From my limited experience, I would say that we don’t do a lot of preaching and teaching on service.    We give it lip service and we know it is important, but I’ve never known of a church to spend a solid year preaching and teaching on this topic.   The brethren must be informed on what God’s Word teaches on this and they must know that (good) change is on its way (every member will serve in some way).

Equipping the Saints

Now, to the more difficult stuff: equipping.     I believe that equipping includes discovering what skills, talents, passions, etc. the brethren have that can be used in ministry.   Equipping also involves training in many cases.   New ministries will begin simply because of this phase.   This equipping is a huge part of discipleship.

Putting Them to Work

There are 4 D’s involved in this phase:   Discovery, Definition, Development and Deployment.   We help members discover their God-given blessings (that empower and enable them for ministry), we define those, we assist in developing those and then we place them in ministry suitable to them.

Follow Through

This is a never-ending process.   I call it a helpful ‘new’ tradition for most churches.   New members are put to work; it’s a tradition—and a good one at that.   In other words, “if you are a member, you will be involved in a ministry.”   Evaluations of ministries will need to take place.   Encouragement and appreciation are needed continuously.

How Much Time Will All of This Take?

As much as is needed.   You cannot hurry these phases; it will take years.   Do it well, do it prayerfully.   This is something that will radically change most congregations for decades to come. This is a continual process that will never cease or reach perfection.

As you contemplate reaching for the goal of full membership involvement, please share your story with me.   Also, if I can help, please contact me.   God bless.

Trav

Unique Church

snowflake2Unique Church

You’ve heard it said that no two snowflakes are alike.   Well, that is true of humans also—in spite of the fact that we are told that we all have a twin somewhere else on this planet.

Churches are no different.   You can find a ‘church’ to fit any whim or personality or personal taste.   There are thousands of doctrine variants that make churches different.

However, every congregation of the Lord’s church is different from the others.   Yes, their worship styles and forms may be similar and they may even use the same or similar Bible class curriculum, but they are unique in many ways.   The members are different in many ways culturally and in some cases, linguistically.

But, on a higher level, members differ in passions, gifts and life experiences. And, churches are unique in their specific purpose and mission.   While the Lord’s church exists to make known the wisdom of God (Eph.3:9-11), each congregation is placed in a different location that has unique needs (other than the salvation of the souls in that location).   Even the congregations themselves have specific needs within them that need to be met.   These needs inside and outside the church are helpful in determining God’s specific purpose for each congregation of the church.   No two are exactly alike.   They may have many similarities but each has a specific mission in its locale.   We need to know that specific calling and hone in on it and fulfill it with the ultimate goal of saving and strengthening the souls involved.

While there is a continuing need for general ministries and maintenance ministries, the overall goal is to reach people where they are and meeting some great need with our love for them.   What does that look like?   We should expend the time and energy to discover our uniqueness in God’s plan and get to work as a unit to help people with their felt needs and with their greatest need: the gospel of Christ.   All of us need to be seeking God’s guidance in this process.   He really knows the felt need and we need His help in discovering it.   When we do, many good things will happen, and we will be that unique church He wants us to be.

What are the steps?

1.    Pray for God’s guidance

2.   Consult with local community leaders as to the greatest needs of the community

3.    Seek the input of every member as what they see as needs in the church and community

4.   Assess the congregation for strengths:  spiritual gifts, passions, skills and life experiences.

5.   Ask church leadership and the church staff for input of needs PLUS creating a mission statement which reflects these needs and vision statements on how to fulfill this mission.

Trav

What is Church Involvement?

7 Adults volunteeringThe idea of church involvement is found within the 12th chapters of both 1 Corinthians and the Book of Romans.    Paul says in both passages that we are members of one another.    Specifically he mentions spiritual gifts in each text and tells us that these gifts are to be used for the good of the church. In many congregations today church membership includes little more than a member showing up for church services every-once-a-while and contributing money to the church’s treasury.   While both of these are important, the Lord expects His children to contribute more than their physical presence and a few dollars every week.   He expects us to bear fruit (John 15:8) and He expects us to use our  gifts in service in the church and in the community.   This is why I feel strongly that 100% of the church ought to be involved in ministry/service in the local church.   Ministry or serving is a sign of spiritual maturity and a life focused on the full will of the Lord. I believe there are 9 spiritual (non-miraculous: Romans 12) gifts in operation today— that when paired with members’ passions, personalities, life skills and life experiences, great things happen:   the church grows in number and in spirit. My goal is to assist churches (and her members) discover these gifts (and the other things listed above) and coach (or train coaches) members on how to develop and use these gifts for the good of the church and community in which the church finds itself.   Also, in this process, the Christian bears fruit (which is a mark of true discipleship and brings glory to the Lord), souls are strengthened and souls are saved.   All of this is by His design.   Individual members discover God’s specific purpose for his/her life and the local church may be able to discover God’s specific purpose in their locale. If I can be of service to your congregation or to you as an individual please contact me at travisirwin@att.net

Travis Irwin

Athens, TN

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