We’ve heard of cross overs in the music industry. We are also familiar with people who cross over in the business world, the sports world and the acting world. And, of course, we know of crossovers in the automotive world.
When it comes to full time ministry staff in the Lord’s church, a similar thing is occurring more and more often. Pulpit men become associates, youth ministers become pulpit men, and some youth guys become worship leaders. And, now I am seeing more and more men cross over from one type of ministry to involvement. A few years ago I worked with a young man who just returned home from mission work. I don’t know all the details, but the elders of his supporting church decided to make him their involvement minister. More recently good friend of mine from Ohio has completed eighteen years as a youth minister in the same congregation and he is now transitioning to involvement. One other friend, has been preaching for the same church for over 35 years and he is now crossing over to involvement.
I’ve been blessed to invest in these men as they make their transition. For those of you who may be considering crossing over or possibly you are a group of elders thinking of making this offer to one of your staff, please allow me to share some observations and make a suggestion:
Involvement Ministers are Few and Far Between
Involvement ministers (IM) do exist—there just aren’t many of us. Most churches of Christ have a full time pulpit man and many of them also have a youth minister. If you were to do a search of all the churches looking for full time ministry staff, a good 60% of churches are looking for pulpit ministers and another 40% are looking for youth ministers.
The nature and number of church staff are usually determined by specific congregational needs or perceived needs. Every church needs someone to deliver weekly lessons from the pulpit and most churches see the need for someone to relate to and lead the youth. Seldom do you see any type of staff ministers beyond these two. We are also seeing an increase in the area of child education in many larger churches. Some are hiring staff to do professional counseling, or to work with senior saints, etc.
I am happy to say that more and more elderships see the need for involvement ministers. I am blessed to work with an eldership who saw this need several years ago. Training and teaching our church members to serve should be paramount because our Lord came to serve and He left us to serve in His name. One of the most obvious measures of a Christian’s spiritual growth and maturity is service. It is a mark of a true disciple of Jesus.
Job Descriptions for Involvement Ministers Can be Tricky
One brother (that is crossing over) told me that he will be able to write his own job description. That’s pretty convenient, and I think pretty rare.
I’ve seen job descriptions for involvement ministers that would have been challenging even to the Lord (when he lived in the flesh). Some have too many demands and expectations. They sound like they want the IM to do everything. In some cases, the leadership wants the IM to ‘take up the slack’ or do things that may be too mundane for the pulpit or youth ministers.
In my estimation an IM should be hired to get all the members of his church to serve in some capacity. This will bless the church and the community.
A job description must be meaningful and realistic. Part of an IM’s job description should include his assisting members in discovering how God has designed them for service, to help them develop their gifts and put them to work.
If an eldership hires a man to continue to maintain what has already been put into place, then I don’t think they really need such a guy. Most IM’s are motivated to take church members to different levels of service. They are highly motivated folks who want the church to grow numerically and spiritually.
Prospective Involvement Ministers Need Training
What kind? Once again, this all depends upon the job description. Other factors are the training and ministry experience the new IM already has. I had 39 years of pulpit experience when I became an IM. I had the speaking ability, the Bible knowledge, the teaching skills, the counseling skills and the organizational skills associated with preaching. IM work is similar but different; it requires another set of skills that our Christian schools and preacher schools do not offer.
It is my opinion that these should be taught and learned over a period of time.
I hope to continue to train men individually for this type of ministry. I also hope to train others through the “Church Involvement Conference.” May I be of service to you if you are in the process of (or maybe you’re thinking of) crossing over to involvement? Are you an eldership in need of such services?
Looking for recommendations?
Following are two both from men crossing over:
Travis Irwin has been in touch with me, Tim Lavender, ever since I made plans to step down from the pulpit and begin easing into involvement ministry. This transition has gone smooth, but now without many questions to be answered as to what involvement ministry is all about. I have been a pulpit preacher for the same church for 37 years and so I know everyone here, but deciding what to do in my new roll has been challenging. I spent a day with Travis and he really helped me to think about the possibilities. Travis is energetic, passionate, and very down to earth on his approach to involvement. He has more than a few great ideas that I had never even thought about such as a “Fruit of the Spirit tree,” church -shirts, a big membership picture cut up into a puzzle to show how we connect and work together, posters, banners, newsletters, etc. His leadership class covers what really is practical and helpful in getting your team working on involving all members. I highly recommend his program and approach. He will help you in any way that he can.
Tim Lavender, Smyrna Church of Chris, Smyrna , TN
After spending almost 25 years in Youth Ministry, I believe it was time for the next chapter in my life. Our congregation was ready to move in the direction of Involvement Minister and call people to service for the Lord’s kingdom. I was able to spend a weekend with Travis Irwin in Athens, Tennessee and pick his brain on ideas about Involvement. This time was very valuable in helping me formulate a plan of action and I gained many tools to help us launch into this new ministry
I would recommend Travis to any church and its leadership, because of his passion to see people in the kingdom of God serving and using their talents.
Matt Dahm, Richland Road Church of Christ in Marion, Ohio
If I can be of service to you as a cross over minister or to you as an eldership, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423 920 3060. Travis Irwin