As a lifelong member, worker and supporter of the Church, I consider it to be one of the best training grounds out there. You want to run your own daycare center, sign up to run the church summer camp. Looking for a way to build your event portfolio, volunteer to plan the minister’s retreat.
The Word of God, the Holy Spirit, clean leadership and a place of fellowship all work together to aid in perfecting faith and if we allow it, personal development. My first experiences with public speaking? Reciting announcements and Sunday School summaries in front of the congregation. First experiences with teamwork? Practicing for the annual Christmas skit with kids too excited about presents to remember their lines (myself included)!
Think about it. Churches are filled with an array of professional backgrounds, personalities, ethnicities, education levels and levels of faith. With all these differences, there’s bound to be a lesson or two to learn.
Here are 13 lessons I’ve learned while doing this good work.
1. Bring your ‘A’ Game
God never gives us half of anything. He does everything well. We should do the same in striving to offer God our best at all times. We won’t always hit the mark or get a perfect score, but God will honor our best efforts when we put them forth.
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
2. There’s a room for market place skills
God’s house is not a business but does require an amount of skill to run efficiently. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Malachi 3:10).
Tithing isn’t just about giving God 10% of the money you make. It’s giving God your time, talent and gifts too. When I speak with new members who say they want to help in church but don’t know what to do, I ask them about their career background, hobbies and special interests as a starting point.
If you work in sound engineering, you may be a great help to your ministry’s audio/visual department. If you run the marketing department at your firm, you may be the perfect person to promote the new rec center your church added and if you love to cook, you can put those skills to work with an outreach event to feed the less fortunate in your community.
Disclaimer: Remember, the church is not a business so all of this effort is null and void without the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Making a ton of money isn’t the best outcome of effective ministry. Winning souls for Christ is.
3. Transparency goes a long way
Be honest. Be real. People can always tell when you’re not. Don’t pretend to be something you haven’t mastered yet and don’t pretend you’ve arrived (somewhere) when you’ve actually been stuck in the same struggle for 10 years (or more).
Use discernment on when and how to share information and parts of your journey with others but always be authentic in doing so. God is faithful. He’s a protector. A rewarder of the just. A God that forgives our sin. People need to know He can do the same for them too.
4. God strengthens and equips for this work
For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13 AMP
Hallelujah! We are tools in the Master’s hands! Let God do the work. There’s no way you could do it alone anyway. And if you think you can…woe to you.
5. None of this works without the Holy Spirit
Anyone can start a church. You can file paperwork. You can compile a team of the best singers, preachers and teachers with a million-dollar annual budget at their disposal. But are lives changing? Are people being transformed through the power of Christ? Are they giving up old ways and taking up a new self?
The Word of God washes the soul. It cuts and mends creating and continually shaping the new creature that awaits us in Christ. The Advocate (Holy Spirit) teaches us how to keep our souls in check as we do the work of ministry. Without the leading of the Spirit, you’re just running a business hiding behind a church mirage.
6. You need a leveled head
Listen, trust me when I say there have been MANY a time when my face, hands, knees and elbows have wanted to do more than shake my neighbor’s hand. I count it an honor and privilege to do this work but not everyone does. You’ll have moments of frustration, anger and feelings of betrayal along the way. The Word says the world is full of trouble and we aren’t excused from experiencing it. But God is a keeper. Much prayer and seeking biblical wise counsel will help you keep your spirit sturdy when provoked so your emotions don’t override it. And if you need a mix of therapy AND Jesus, to get your house in order, do it.
7. Communication is key
We’re living through a time that many of us have never seen. Good communication is a life principle to practice that is just as applicable in the church, maybe more now than ever. Talk to your congregation and supporters (video meetings, conference calls, newsletters, emails). Don’t leave them in the dark about the status of your church and how they can continue to engage and promote their own spiritual growth in these unusual but ordained times.
8. You need critical thinking skills and the ability to problem-solve
It’s not always gonna go the way you planned, even if you planned it that way for months on end. Someone will be late. Something will break and others simply won’t show. It sucks but you’re not defeated unless you give in. God gave us creative ability for a reason. Pull your core team together and execute Plan B, C or Z. Again, God honors our best efforts.
9. You need interpersonal skills
Working in ministry requires interpersonal skills aka “people skills”. You can’t be considered a kingdom representative if you’re rude, unapproachable, lazy and mean. I can only imagine all the undocumented times Jesus was approached by people seeking healing, a meal, comfort or just conversation. I strongly doubt he responded in anything less than love regardless of their requests. If this is a challenge for you as a minister, pastor, user, praise and worship leader, etc. you may want to do a self-check.
10. Take breaks when you need them
The work of the Church can be taxing on the mind, body and spirit. Our Co-Pastor said it like this once: God knows life put cracks in you. We were never intended to work ourselves ragged while building the Kingdom, work hard yes but not to the point where our well-being is in jeopardy. God wants us to use wisdom in knowing when to rest. If you’re like me, then you may not do this well either but it doesn’t negate the fact that vacations are a beautiful thing! Take a break but don’t quit. Rest, rejuvenate, have some fun and allow God to minister to YOU during your time of solitude.
11. Be Yourself
You’ve heard this before and it applies to God’s house too. There’s always gonna be someone that does something better than you. Always. But no one can do that “thing(s)” like YOU can. So stop competing. Stop comparing. Stop wishing you did “XZY” like “LMNOP”. This will only exhaust and frustrate you because “you’ll never be able to operate in another man’s oil”. Receive and perfect what God graced your hands to do. Learn to be the authentic masterpiece God created you to be and all that entails. Study your gift(s), master them, and bring them to the storehouse for the upbuilding of the kingdom.
12. Teamwork isn’t just for sports
Paul said that “we have this ministry”. It was never meant to be a solo job for the pastor(s) or any one person. This is not your time to shine. Stop it. There is power in agreement! The enemy can’t ambush a unified, alert team. Follow the vision of the house, not your own agenda.
13. Adapt as the Spirit leads
As I mentioned earlier, we’re in a time that many haven’t seen. The world is changing in ways we haven’t been accustomed to. But not all things are expedient. We are in but not of this world so always consult the Father before you implement change or make adaptations based on the secular rule. Our pastors have been and continue to be excellent examples of this over the past 13 years, only moving when God says to do so.
Bonus Lesson: Be Clean
Not perfect. Clean. Practice what you preach. Live what you say. Repent…often. Right your wrongs. Teach God’s Word unaltered. No right-minded person would be convinced to serve a holy (pure, consecrated, upright) God if they didn’t see a reflection of this in the person trying to win them over. Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy “(1 Peter 1:16 ESV)
Cheers to more lessons in the field!