Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. 2 Cor 5:11 NLT
We have a fearful responsibility to the Lord, but what is it? Is it to be a good person? That is what many of us think. In fear of the Lord I must be good. Though there is truth to that, this verse casts a different vision. We have a fearful responsibility to work hard to persuade others to turn to Christ for salvation. If you and I are not good, we will have a hard time convincing anyone that God is good. If we are not loving and compassionate, we will not convince anyone that God loves them. So being good matters because it not only betters our lives but it lets us make the character of God visible to others and it lets us touch others as the Body of Christ.
At Galloway, our mission is to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples. Connect-Grow-Serve highlight the process we follow to accomplish our mission. Our motto, which characterizes this process, is that we transform people through Christ, one relationship at a time. Connect-Grow-Serve are not programs. CGS drive the questions that shape our programs. A key question that Connect drives home is simply this, What are we connecting people to in this program?
For example, if we are program driven we may begin to believe that if we can attract people to a program that we have accomplished our mission. Thus we will concentrate on making the program attractive, even spectacular. I shared the story of the experience Janice and I had in working to start a youth group in a church many years ago. We thought that the youth would be impressed if we promised to take them to Hershey Park for something really BIG and EXCITING! They just yawned, been there, done that. It forced us to completely change our outlook on what matters most. We started doing little get togethers and outings that helped them to build relationships with one another and with us. We realized that they had to care about being with each other if we were ever going to have a group that would show up and listen to what we could share with each other. The backbone of our Galloway Youth is the breakout time they do at meetings were they get the chance to know one another and grow as their leaders help them search for real life answers from God.
What if we apply this to other ministries? I love talking about our Free4All ministry through which we give away clothes each week on Wednesday nights. Obviously we connect people with clothes there. But is that all we can do for people? Is that our best gift and our highest goal? Are we transforming people through Christ, one relationship at a time? Are we connecting people with people, who can connect people with God? Ok, if we embrace the priority that the mission to make a connection with people should stand above making a connection with clothes (Connecting with clothes is not small thing-it is important!) then we ask, how do we resource the ministry to do that well?
On any given Wednesday we may have as many as 6-10 dedicated volunteers working in the Free4All. What are they doing? Most are focused on sorting clothes, hanging clothes, and placing clothes on racks. Only 1 or 2 people are focused entirely on connecting with people by greeting them, helping them shop, and otherwise engaging them in conversation. IHere’s how I would like to see our staffing breakdown. 6-8 people working on clothes. 6-8 people working with people – 1+ greeter (who also keeps count of how many people we serve), 1+ hospitality (serving cold water and hot water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate), 4-5 who help people shop and get to know them. Where do you see yourself in that lineup? By the way, we need women and men.
Let’s look at our children’s ministry for a moment. For the past year I have been emphasizing our need to build a stronger team ministry. If we consider our mission you will recognize why. Just like youth ministry we can get caught up in building a program and not actually pursue a mission. We have a mission to lead our kids to:
- Connect through faith with Jesus as their Savior and to build up relationships with their parents, teachers, mentors and other kids.
- These are the relationships that will help them Grow as young Christians in knowledge and understanding of the Bible, in the ability to pray, to worship, to be led by the Holy Spirit and to put God first in their life.
- As they grow we want them to learn to Serve God using the gifts God has given them and to share their faith in meaningful ways with others.
If we are going to build relationships the way we want to, how does that define what we do? To begin with, it tells us that we need people and why we need them. If we have a group of kids gathered for Galloway Kids Ministry how many people do we need? A minimum of two are required to create a safe environment for the kids and the leaders. Now multiply that by the number of different age groups of kids and different time slots. What if the groups is made up of 20 kids, how many adults do we need. There are guidelines frequently used to set adult to child ratios depending on the age group that we can use as a guide, but why do they matter? Well, it helps maintain discipline, it provides more hands to do the work with kids in a large group. But more importantly, it helps us to build Connections with kids. Think of the impact of a room staffed with plenty of excited and invested adults who are there to build bonds with kids as teachers and mentors instead of just one teacher and one helper on duty. Think of the lifelong impact on kids who see that level of commitment and dedication from their adult leaders! Obviously this takes a team committed to making connections with kids and a passion to help them connect with Jesus. A director and a few helpers cannot accomplish these goals, only a chorus of hard working, dedicated, and passionate people working together can do it. What about the families? If our mission includes connecting with the parents, what must we do? Of course, communication through every media is vital but what can we do to help build more than a drop off program for parents. Consider this, we use a computer based check in system. Why? To ensure a safe and secure environment for our kids. But, on a Sunday morning, what do we want parents to connect with, a computer? For years it has broken my heart to see us understaffed for our kid ministry both inside and outside of the classroom. That under staffing has forced our leaders including our directors to remain always in the class room and gives little opportunity for anyone to connect with parents. In fact, we have seldom had someone consistently present at the check in stations that are at the entrance to those ministries. Directors and other leaders don’t get opportunity to get to know and engage parents and family members and parents don’t get to know them. There are thus missed opportunities to invite families to take a step further involving themselves in the church or even in Galloway Kids Ministry. So what do we want to connect families to, a computer, a piece of paper communicating policies or a person?
We can, and should, press further these questions in regard to all our programs in all our areas of ministry. Take some time to explore these questions below and find someone to discuss them with this week. Pray over these areas of ministry and ask, is this my area of calling?
- Think about ministries you are or have been involved in recently.
- What was that ministries mission?
- What was it trying to connect people with?
- Was it with a service like clothes or a program of some kind?
- Has it accomplished the higher goal of connecting people with people, who can connect people with God?
2. I asked in my message, How connected are you? I asked this at both the beginning and the end of the message.
- At the beginning of the message, the question focused on whether you feel like an outsider or do you feel connected? It also asked if you feel relevant to the church. How do you answer that question, How connected are you?
- At the end of the message, the question changed to focus on how connected you are to others as a person who has an important role in connecting others to God. How connected are you to others who need to make a connection with God? How connected are you to other Christians in helping them grow in Christ?
3. Did this message inspire you to become a connection builder? Where and how? Is it at home or work, kids or youth ministry, Trail Life scouting ministry, Free4All, Sunday morning welcome team, or some other area of ministry? Are you going to reach out to seek opportunity to make a connection?