Church Involvement

Creating a Culture of Involvement in Every Church

Month: February 2016

3 Ways to Assess Members for Service

coach43 Ways to Assess Members

At first glance, the word “assess” sounds devious and dangerous.   Other words could be used: evaluate, appraise, rate or measure.   But those are weird also.

When I use the word “assess” I use it in this manner:   to assess a member of the church is to assess them by looking at their spiritual gifts, their personality trait, their passions, their past ministry experience and other things.   The goal of an assessment (of these things) is to help the church member see how God has designed him/her for service and to assist him/her in getting involved in a church ministry or ministries that best fit him/her.   With that definition in mind, the word “assess” takes on a most positive meaning and purpose.

3 Ways to Do Member Assessments                                      

Yes, there at least 3 different ways to do assessments with members.   A church needs to be very careful which one they choose; it could mean the difference between sweet success  and bitter failure.


Simply put, self-assessment is the church member attempting to interpret his/her inventory findings.   Having attempted to do this, he/she must next attempt to discover what ministry or ministries that best fit his/her inventory findings.   The problem with this way of assessing is that most members don’t have the special training to know about gifts, passions, etc. and how to interpret them plus many members do not know much about the ministries of the local church (their purpose and related details).   I am not saying (all) members cannot assess themselves; I am saying that in most cases, most church members are not acquainted with any of these things and are thus unable to properly handle all this new information.   With the self-assessment, there is no guidance from wiser, more informed folks.

There is also no incentive to fill out the inventories in a timely manner and there is no one to follow up to see if the inventories have been done and ministries have been chosen (unless someone has been assigned).   Too much responsibility is placed upon the individual church member for this to work well.     Yes, there will always be a handful of members who are disciplined enough to do it this way.   However, in all (kind) honesty, most members are not disciplined enough to do all these things on their own.

Church Assessment

This means of assessment is a step up from self-assessment but it too, has its issues.   Church assessment is when members fill out the inventories and turn them into someone who been assigned that responsibility.   That (other) person then decides when a member is needed for a ministry.   In other words, the member who filled out the inventories may or may not be used in any ministry in the church.   This is counter-productive and it is not the original purpose of doing the inventories.   In many cases, this priceless information (that the member has willingly provided) will end up on a data base or in a file drawer never to see the light of day.   If a member does the inventories and if a member chooses to work in a ministry or ministries, that member should be put to work immediately.   This is how ministry grows.   Church assessment puts too much responsibility upon the person collecting the information; he/she decides who gets to serve and who doesn’t–and when—if ever.    This method could be modified to be more effective, however, the following is really the way to go.

Coach Assessment

This, I believe is the best approach.     What is it?   When we do I Serve U programs, we will train a limited number of members to become coaches.   The coaches guide members through the process of discovering new things about themselves (e.g. spiritual gifts, passions, etc.).   Coaches interpret the findings of the inventories, give definitions, ask questions, make suggestions and basically assist the member in finding church ministry that best fits him/her.   The coach then fills out a form about the member (that he/she has interviewed) and gives it to the appropriate deacons and ministry leaders (these are the folks in whose ministry/ministries the ‘coached’ member would be serving). This means of assessment truly empowers the church member to be what God designed him/her to be/do. The coaches may also take on the responsibility to ‘follow up’ to make sure the member is serving, that the deacon did put the member to work, and to continue to encourage the member and to make recommendations.

Above all else that could be said for coach assessing, the best thing that can be said is this:   it invests in people.   It is a form of mentoring that creates new relationships that will bless the church for now and eternity.    Our greatest asset is the church membership (the people that have been entrusted to us) and our greatest responsibility to them is helping them grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other.   Coaching is worth it because people are worth it.   They are worth the time, the prayer, the energy, the effort and yes, the money.

Questions?   The Bible says to do all things decently and in order.   This is what we attempt to do with the I Serve U program.   Our goal is to do more than just put members in ministry; it is to grow the church numerically and spiritually.   If we can serve you, please contact us.

Travis Irwin, involvement minister

Athens, TN              423 920 3060

Articles I Recommend

articles3This week, I recommend the following 4 articles:

The first article is one that came out recently in the “Christian Chronicle” that addresses the way we value leaders and people in general in our culture and its adverse affects.   This article is written by Jonathan Holmes and it can be found at the following link:

Thumma and Bird are best known for their book The Other 80 Percent. This is a link is to their website that offers up-to-date relevant articles for churches that really take membership involvement seriously.

There is a correlation between a child remaining in the church as an adult and his/her involvement in ministry as a church.   Church leaders must value children and focus on the many ways a child can serve.

Most churches are always looking for ways to get more members involved in the ministries of the local church.   I came across this article this week that list some ‘out of the box’ suggestions that I really like—I think you will, too:

One more from Rick Warren on “Why Your Volunteers Quit”

“I Serve U” Leadership Retreat

LaVergneChurchofChristleadershipretreatRecently, I had the privilege of meeting with the elders, deacons and pulpit minister of LaVergne Church of Christ.   Every year these leaders plan a year in advance and review the previous year.   This year they looked at the “I Serve U” inventories.  They were attentive, enthused, involved and very positive.  Our “Break Out” sessions were energetic and there were lots of serious thoughts and some laughter.  There was never a dull moment.   They discovered how God designed them as individuals and as the church’s leadership.    They are very excited about sharing what they have learned with the rest of the church in LaVergne to see how God has designed the church for service.   Following is a note from their pulpit minister:

“First, thanks so much for your excellent contribution to our retreat. It went even better than I expected it would…I’ll be very glad to endorse and promote your workshop in every way I can. May God continue to bless all aspects of your ministry to him! Thanks, again, and God bless!”

Joshua Pappas, Pulpit minister, LaVergne (TN) Church of Christ

If your church leadership is interested in having one of these retreats, please contact me at or 423 920 3060.   You will be enlightened, you will get excited and you will, most importantly, praise the Lord for the marvelous way He has designed His church.



Learning to Say “No” without the Guilt

Learning to Say “No” without the GuiltNO4

Many good folks who have the gift of compassion have great difficulty in saying “No” to people with needs.   As a result, negative things happen, one of which is burn out.   When we can’t say “No” to people (specifically to the ones which we should say it), we feel guilt, frustration, irritability, entrapped, manipulated and discouragement.

In their book It’s Not My Fault, Drs. Cloud and Townsend wrote a chapter entitled, “You Can Learn to Say No.”     The context of this chapter is a person who has a life dream.   Tim Hoyt’s dream was to run in marathons.   However, his first child (a son) was born with severe disabilities.   For some time Tim and his wife considered their son as a hopeless situation.   However, it was discovered that Rick (their son), though severely handicapped physically, was very intelligent.

Rick and his dad formed “Team Hoyt.”   They have travelled extensively and have been in hundreds of marathons and triathlons all over the world.   Tim pushes Rick in an adult stroller.   Tim’s dream was fulfilled, and yet were there obstacles.   Tim had to learn to say “No” to any obstacles that stood in the way of his dream.   It has paid great dividends for himself and his son and tens of thousands around the world who know the story.   This is the story that begins this chapter.   Drs. Cloud and Townsend want us to know that we all have dreams and that we need to learn to say “No” to certain people and things that stand in our way of reaching for our life dreams.

To many of us our dream (maybe even our personal mission in life) is to help people and alleviate suffering (because we have the gift of compassion/mercy giving). However, if we are not careful, we can do more damage than good to others and we can suffer greatly to the point that we actually hurt ourselves to an extent that we can no longer help anyone.

What’s the solution?

  1.  First of all, you need to guard your heart; no one will or can do this for you (Prov.4:23).   If you don’t guard your heart, your heart can be broken, abused or damaged.   Each of us needs to take personal responsibility to guard (protect) our hearts.

The good doctors list several obstacles that block our fulfilling our dreams (e.g. technology, toxic people, negative people, envious people, controlling people, needy people [there are some needy people that we cannot help; we may need to refer them to others who can help them], and worthy but untimely opportunities)

2.  And, then the good doctors, mention one last obstacle that we all need to recognize: “your own codependency.”   Codependency is simply defined as a tendency to take too much responsibility for the problems of others.   Does this sound familiar yet?   Have you ever been accused of this?

While it is good and right to care for people, the codependent person crosses the line in relationship, the line of responsibility.   Instead of being responsible to others, the codependent person becomes responsible for them.

What’s the result?   Instead of caring and helping, you begin enabling and rescuing.   These do not empower anyone (e.g. the needy).   They only increase dependency, entitlement, and irresponsibility.   Love builds up strength and character, whereas codependency breaks them down.   Does this sound familiar? This is what is wrong with our country’s welfare system; it makes people weak and dependent and have feelings of entitlement.   It has not alleviated poverty; it has promoted it.

Codependency will take you away from your goals and dreams. It will hurt you and it will hurt those you’re trying to help.

We don’t want people sad, disappointed, unhappy, hurt, etc. So we think we have to fix everything so they aren’t these things.   We don’t want people to be uncomfortable, go without or suffer in any way.   However, we can’t make people happy or unhappy.   We can love, help, accept, empathize, advise, challenge, comfort and support.   We cannot and should not do for others what they should do for themselves.   We should not reward inappropriate decisions and behaviors.   Allow people to own their feelings and reap the consequences of their choices.

When you start saying no to your own codependency you will find yourself saying no to people you have been rescuing. You may feel guilt but you will discover more and more personal freedom and the guilt will go way.   Stay loving and caring while respecting the line of responsibility.

Learn to say “Yes” to the appropriate people at the appropriate time, and learn to say “No” in a similar manner.   Offer and give help that is truly helpful, not hurtful to you or them.   Trav

Suggested reading:

It’s Not My Fault by Doctors Cloud and Townsend

Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton

When Helping Others Hurts Them by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

When Helping You is Hurting Me by Carman Renee Berry


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