Other than their names, physical addresses and phone numbers, what information about your members would be most helpful to you? If you are an elder, deacon, ministry leader or pulpit minister, what information about each member would you deem most helpful in growing the church? What information about each member would create a culture of involvement in the local church? What information would be most helpful to each member as each attempts to discover his/her uniqueness for ministry?
This is the purpose of membership inventories. Good ones are designed to assist members and church leaders in discovering things about the members that promote Christian service and church growth (spiritually and numerically).
Before Inventories, there must be Biblical instruction. The Pew Institute did a study of several religious groups and it was found that a hefty 47% of the membership of churches of Christ were involved in ministry. But what about the other 53%? In some congregations the percentage of non-involved members may be higher according to the well-known 80/20 rule. How do you go about getting everyone involved?
All of God’s people must be taught that discipleship requires servanthood. God’s people must be taught that they are a priesthood of believers. God’s children must be instructed that each Christian is uniquely designed for ministry. God’s church must be taught that bearing fruit is required of each member. God’s folks must be instructed that each member should contribute to the body of Christ in some positive way other than attending church assemblies and giving money. Biblical instruction will educate the brethren in these matters. When members learn that filling out a member inventory is related to God’s teaching on ministry and that the ultimate goal is spiritual growth, they will be more likely to cooperate fully.
Member Inventories are harmless and most helpful. A member inventory is NOT a test. It is not designed to question one’s mental state. It is not designed to expose a person’s sins. A member inventory is designed to assist a member in discovering his/her (for examples) non-miraculous spiritual gifts, passions, etc. It is designed to help a member see how God has uniquely designed him/her for service. Members get excited when they make these discoveries about themselves and about others. Having discovered this, the member is ready to pick ministries to serve in.
Using the information to the max. A congregation can best reap the benefits of the members’ inventories by creating a database with this new found priceless information and making the database available to all the church leaders who can then pick and choose folks to serve in different areas of the church. It is also most helpful for a few members to become ‘coaches’ who assist members in finding ministry that is most ‘fitting’ for them (fitting refers to ministry for which a member is best suited according their giftedness, temperament, etc.).
More and more church leaders are looking for means and methods of getting those under their care involved in ministry in and out of the church. If you are one of those church leaders, please allow me to strongly encourage you to do research in the area of member inventories. My inventory is I Serve U Inventories and you can find information about it from this website or email me.
Travis Irwin has served in youth ministry, pulpit ministry and in the involvement ministry over the past forty-seven years. He is presently the involvement minister for the Athens church of Christ in Athens, TN and he has designed his own member inventory. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423 920 3060.