Involving People

One of the hardest aspects of church leadership is getting people to become involved. This is a big challenge for many pastors and local church leaders. It would be a dream to have a church with sufficient membership involvement. I would like to share two ideas to help motivate your members to be more active in your church.

Share an exciting vision. This is the core of every successful attempt to attain involvement in the life of your church. All the gimmicks and all the systems in the world can’t do anything if your members never say to themselves, “I want to be a part of that.” But, if you dream big and share that dream with your members, you give them something to latch on to.

Of course, you also have to accept that not everyone wants to dream big. You’re going to have some members who prefer to show up on Sabbath morning and go home without any other involvement or commitment. You can’t fall into the trap of catering to these people. You have to go forward and share your vision in spite of those who don’t want to be involved. On those hard days, just remember that dreams are viral. You may not get a good response at first, but slowly and surely you’ll get two or three people charged up, and they’ll each get two more people, until the whole church is excited and those who didn’t want to dream big start to be infected by the excitement. 

Create opportunities for involvement. This may sound simple, but it’s worth thinking about. Just because you have opportunities doesn’t mean your members know you do. In fact, one of the most common problems churches have is that uninvolved people look around, see everything is working fine, and assume there’s no need for help. All the while, you have three volunteers working twenty hours a day in addition to their full-time jobs just so everything at church runs smoothly.

Ellen G. White says, “Every member of the church has an individual responsibility as a member of the visible church, and a worker in the vineyard of the Lord, and should do his utmost to preserve harmony, union, and love in the church. . . .” (The Upward Look, 63). As a church leader, one of your responsibilities is to make it clear that more volunteers are needed, that small groups are open to everyone rather than a select few, and that anyone who wants to help in church is welcome to. Some ways to make this evident is by:

• Letting members know what you would do if you had more volunteers and more leaders, so they contrast the present situation with your dream, rather than assuming that if everything is working fine there must not be any need for help. 
• Advertise areas that need more volunteers. You can do this verbally, via your bulletin, email or even post needs on your website.
• Take your overly-active members, those who tend to do the work of three people and change up their responsibilities. I wouldn’t suggest too radical of a change, but if you have a new ministry or if a new need comes up, take one or two responsibilities away from an over-active member and put them in charge of the new ministry. In order to make sure someone picks up the slack, publicly announce the change in roles and announce that you need volunteers to join the ministries your over-active member is leaving. This is also a good chance to publicly acknowledge those who work hardest to serve the church.

By involving church members in different activities and ministries, we are helping them to have a growing spiritual experience. Ellen G. White affirms, “Let every member of the church become an active worker, a living stone, emitting light in God’s temple. Those who bear responsibilities in the church should devise ways in which an opportunity will be given to every member of the church to act some part in the work. This has not been done in the past, and there are but few who realize how much has been lost on this account. Plans have not been formed whereby the talent of all could be employed in the service of the cause. The enemy is not slow in employing those who are idlers in the church, and he uses the unappreciated talent of the members of the church for his own work” (Review and Herald, September 2, 1890, p. 2). Think about it!

Jonas Arrais General Conference Associate Ministerial Secretary