Church Involvement

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

Month: September 2017

IMs Network in the Churches of Christ

Involvement Ministers Network

Between April 24 and August 27 of this year (2017), I took it upon myself to go searching for other folks that do what I do as an involvement minister.  My goal was to create an IM Network, and I think I have.  As of this moment, I do not have permission to share names and email addresses.  But hopefully soon, I will be able to share it.   Following is what I learned from 242 calls to 242 churches of Christ.

First of all, I learned quickly (what I kind of already knew) that Involvement Ministers (IMs) go by different titles: Involvement Ministers, Family Life Ministers, Connections Ministers, Associate Ministers, Community Life Ministers, Discipleship Ministers, etc.

I found that many ministers wear many different hats and do many things other than involvement.   One brother was attempting to do youth ministry and involvement ministry at the same time; I could tell he was frustrated.   Many of these have transitioned to IM from youth, pulpit, missions or other ministries.   I’ve also talked with some people that have transitioned from being a member or a deacon and they are now in charge of involvement (among other things) in their congregations.

The criteria for my calls along with some findings are as follows:

  1.  Congregations of 300+ members in Tennessee and connecting States were called by phone.   (I assumed that most congregations cannot afford two ministers unless there are at least 300 members). Several larger congregations had as many as four ministers (some even more) but none was an IM.
  2.    I found the ‘gate keepers’ very professional, friendly and helpful.   I am proud of the ladies who answered their congregation’s office phones.   In several cases, larger congregations did not have anyone to answer the phone and/or they didn’t have an answering machine.   I was a bit shocked.   To be honest, my first thought was: how do members get in contact with the church and how did these churches ever grow to their present size??
  3. In many cases, secretaries did not know what an involvement minister was and a good majority of them did not know who was ‘in charge’ of getting members involved in the ministries of their congregation.   However, in at least one case, the church secretary was in charge of getting members involved.
  4.    Some of the larger congregations had phone systems that even their secretaries could not operate. Some phone systems would not allow me to talk to a living human.   Some of them would not allow me to leave something as simple as a general voice mail. To be honest, my first thought was: how do members get in contact with the church and and my second thought was how did these churches ever grow to their present size??   I am techinally challenged for sure but I did take several minutes in an attempt ‘to get through’ with no success.   It’s a good possibility that I was the problem.
  5. I did not call Non-institutional or One Cupper congregations primarily because few if any of them have over 300 members.
  6. Many IMs were not in the office when I called.   I usually called in the afternoon (avoiding lunch hour) and in several cases left voice mails asking the IM to call me back. I would say about 50% did call back.   Those who were out of the office, were out doing the Lord’s work. One was becoming a grandfather for the third time when I called.
  7. The general reception by those who did the involvement work was good and some were very excited to be talking to another IM. When I told them about the “Church Involvement Conference” and www.churchinvolvement.com they were really appreciative.
  8.  I found 5 female IMs, one eldership of eight did the involvement work, and 1 married couple did it.   Several IMs were former pulpit or youth ministers and had been with their ‘present’ congregation for many years (one brother had been with his congregation 27 years).
  9. The majority of our brotherhood congregations in these states (with a membership of over 300) appear not to have any intentional means of getting members involved in any sort of ministry.  This is a personal observation and it may not be accurate especially if the ‘gate keepers’ do not represent the leadership of the church.
  10.    Many of the congregations had deacons who got members involved. Several congregations use their small groups to involve members.

I found 42 full time church staffers whose purpose is to get members involved in ministry; Tennessee has 22 of these.  I found none in SC, NC, and VA.   Kentucky and Mississippi both had one each.  AL and AR had 7 each and GA had 4.  The balance of 27 were deacons, church secretaries, elders or a member who had a ministry of IM.  These are volunteers and not paid full time staff.  All 69 do IM a little diferent.  Five of these IMs are female.

What I find interesting is that these stats mean that out of 242 churches of Christ, we can say that there are 42 full time IMs which is about 1 out of every 6. If you add the volunteers to this list, then you would have close to 1 out of 4 churches do involvement in some form.  Very impressive. I find this amazing and I am pleasantly surprised.

If you are an IM or you know of someone who is and/or if you have not talked with me, please let me know at travisirwin@att.net

Travis Irwin

Athens, TN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Efficacy of Ministry Manuals

Efficacy of Church Ministry Manuals

Most churches do not have ministry manuals.   Some churches have ‘involvement forms’ that are used to determine what members are willing to do (e.g. wait on the Lord’s Table, teach a class, greet, visit, prepare communion, lead singing, etc.).  Members are requested to ‘check off’ the things they are willing to do and these are put in a database and members are called upon as they are needed in these areas of service.

Involvement forms are popular because they are usually very simple and only include one page.   The downside of these forms is that they are not comprehensive and do not optimize the gifts, passions and life skills and experiences of the members within the church.    Churches that only use involvement forms may be churches that do not have numerical growth in mind.   Some may be maintaining the status quo and going through the ‘motions’ of ‘doing’ church.

On the other hand, there are “Ministry Manuals.”   The word “manual” sounds intimidating and cold.   It sounds like something you need to read to make something work.   But it is NOT an instruction manual.    I use the term here to refer to a booklet with several pages listing opportunities to serve including opportunities that promote both spiritual and numerical growth.  Our present Ministry Manual holds information about 40 ministries and over 400 opportunities to service in the local church.

Following is a list of its contents; possibly some of these may trigger some ideas for you as you plan to create your own:

  1.  A listing of every ministry with a check box next to each one.
  2.  A mission statement for every ministry (under the ministry name). A vision statement can also be valuable; basically the vision statement informs others on ‘how’ the mission (statement) of the ministry will be carried out through the opportunities of service within that ministry.
  3.  The name(s) of those directing the ministry with contact information.
  4.  A listing of opportunities to serve within that ministry.   There can be too few or too many listings.   However, all the ‘needs’ in the ministry should be listed.
  5.  A color-coded system according to giftedness; our first ministry manual had each opportunity of service color-coded according to a person’s giftedness.   A good example of this would be the “Education Ministry,” and the opportunity to actually teach a class.   Those with the gifts of exhortation and teaching would definitely be considered as teachers. Such a coding not only helps the education director; it also helps those looking for something to do.   They may desire to teach and yet not be gifted in that area.   They should look for an opportunity to serve that is color-coded according their giftedness.   There are kind-hearted members who are willing to do anything and yet may not be gifted in certain areas.   Using members who are not gifted in a certain area could adversely affect the quality of that ministry and its service to the local church.   To those who minimize giftedness, I would say that ‘passion’ is the closest thing that could ever come close to replacing giftedness.   I would prefer both giftedness for teaching and a passion for teaching (and children or adults) for a person to be in a teaching position.

Following is an example without proper form:

Name of Ministry:   Education

Mission of Ministry:   To teach the Word of God in order to make disciples Christ and transform lives into the likeness of Christ

Vision:   the means we will use will be Bible classes on Sunday morning and Wednesday evenings, VBS, Summer Reading Club, Youth Ministry, SPROUT ministry and other events designed with this goal in mind

Director of this Ministry:   David Smith    Contact:   423 000 0000

Opportunities to Serve:

___Teaching children                    ____Teaching high school

___Assisting teachers                     ____Teaching adults

___Research                                     ____Do crafts

What about the efficacy of ministry manuals?   Let’s return to the original question: how effective is a ministry manual?

The simple answer is “it is as effective as your design it to be and as you use it.”   It is my personal opinion that every member needs to have a comprehensive list of all the opportunities of service in the local church…

  1.  Because they need to know what is needed in their church: they are!
  2.  Because they need to know their place in the church (in my opinion according to their giftedness, passion and life experience.
  3.  Because they need to know God has placed them in that church to serve
  4.  Because most church members don’t have a clue what is happening in their local church—and coming to know it brings courage and serious contemplation to commit to serve.
  5. Leaders need to treat involvement as a matter of discipleship and must educate every member to use his gifts and other blessings to make the church strong numerically and spiritually.   Leaders should also have a database of all those enrolled to serve along with their passions, gifts and any other related information so the deacons and ministry leaders can find new talent for their ministries.

Trav

 

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