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:
- A listing of every ministry with a check box next to each one.
- 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.
- The name(s) of those directing the ministry with contact information.
- 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.
- 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…
- Because they need to know what is needed in their church: they are!
- Because they need to know their place in the church (in my opinion according to their giftedness, passion and life experience.
- Because they need to know God has placed them in that church to serve
- 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.
- 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.