It can be a little overwhelming when churches learn of I Serve U. When church leaders learn all that is involved (no pun intended), they are a little overwhelmed and do not know where to start.
I want to alleviate any such concerns and simplify the process.
Determine How You Wish to Proceed
Different churches use different methods of getting members to do the inventories. One church has a Wednesday evening class that runs for four weeks and covers each issue (e.g. gifts, personality, passions, etc.) one week at a time. A supper is prepared for them so they can come directly to the church after work and start the process. This is a rotating class where folks can come in the middle of the process and not fall behind or wait for another class. This church has 5000 members and each new member is required to be in this class. This particular class has two leaders.
I am not familiar with how they originally did the class when everyone in the church had to take it. I would suggest doing so alphabetically or by sign up with a limited number in each class. This may take several months, but the end result is worth all the effort and organizing.
Another congregation uses small groups. Small groups are ideal for getting to know new members and allow the time needed to do the inventories well. Small groups would allow the entire church to be inventoried quickly. However, each small group will need a leader (or leaders) to make it work well. If you are a smaller church and you need twelve leaders for twelve groups, you may have an issue—at least temporarily.
Here in Athens we tried several approaches and all of them working together brought about great results. We had “Discovery Place” where folks could go anytime they wished and fill out the inventories on line and instantly get a print out. They would then come to my office where I would ‘coach’ them for about 30 minutes. We provided childcare one evening a month for young couples with children. We also provided a special day for retirees. The youth minister used a week of time and the youth to do a thorough cleaning of the church building. While there, each young person would do the inventories and receive some coaching.
Each church must do what works best for all involved. With creativity, church leadership will come up with a practical means of getting all their members to do the inventories and get them involved in ministry.
Data Basing the Information
As people do the inventories, this (new) invaluable information is given to the church secretary (or an assigned person) to be put into a database. One of these good data bases is “Servant Keeper.”
Having done so, a copy of the information is given to the appropriate deacon or ministry leader so he/she can put the person who has just filled out the inventories to work.
Deacons and ministry leaders MUST NOT become bottle necks in this process.
They must take the information given to them and immediately put these new volunteers to work. Otherwise, the volunteers become discouraged and are never used. Wise and organized deacons and ministry leaders will have prepared well and have serving opportunities. Deacons and ministry leaders will do well to delegate the work assigned them and they best do so by giving assignments to people who have volunteered.
Don’t allow this term to scare you. Coaching is simply spending some time with an individual (who has filled out the inventories) and asking questions that lead the volunteer in discovering his or her place in the body of Christ. Yes, the coach needs to define and illustrate how gifts, personalities and passions determine how a volunteer is designed to serve, but ultimately the coach leads the volunteer in discovering how wonderfully they are created for good works.
You may have several coaches, especially as you start inventorying every member and then you would only need a few once this is accomplished.
Campaigns & Congregational Focuses
A campaign is a special event that lasts up to one year. It is a time of special emphasis in preaching, teaching and ministry where members are encouraged to use their gifts in some special way. We’ve had two major campaigns: “Getting Connected” and “Down on the Farm” (an emphasis upon bearing fruit for Jesus).
We also recently had a congregation focus that we called “Be a River.” We have also added “Love Athens” wherein we do special projects around town to bless people and non-profits. We also have “Ministry Fairs” and “Missions Fairs.”
Such things require time and creativity but they pay big benefits in teaching the brethren to serve. Smaller children also learn service in their young age.
Changing Your Congregation’s DNA
What you are doing is changing the DNA of your church. You are transforming, in some cases, many pew warmers into servants. Some change is good and, in this case, is necessary. Once your church’s DNA has changed, it becomes a part of the church that will never change back to the old way. The church will progress to be more like Christ.
If this material still doesn’t help, please let me know. I’ll be glad to guide through the process.
If you would like to host an I Serve U event, please contact me. Trav
Travis Irwin, IM
Athens Church of Christ
423 920 3060