As we think through how to connect unconnected people through Bible study, one thing stands out: each member of the faith family should find a ministry role. When church members have no role or sense of personal responsibility, it is easy for them to remain unconnected. After all, there is no expectation of preparation or participation. No one will be disappointed if the unconnected person does not show up. No job will be left undone.
That, at least, is what the unconnected person is allowed to believe.
Intentionality in Leadership will Encourage Growth
Leading every member to find their role in their faith family — their local church — is among the most important responsibilities of church leaders. We cannot wait for new believers to figure this out by osmosis or on their own. We must intentionally lead them in this important area of growth.
If you are having trouble finding your role, or want to be more effective in helping people find their roles, consider these options:
1. Discover your spiritual gift. Three of the New Testament Epistles address spiritual gifts, the way the Holy Spirit meets needs in the faith family. Each believer is gifted as the Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, distributes the gifts.
There are a number of spiritual gift inventories available for helping with this. If no gift survey can be obtained, use the Bible alone as your guide. Ask a mature believer to watch your life and evaluate what your gift or gifts might be. Seek God’s Word for confirmation.
2. Determine your personality type. Some people are introverts, while others are extroverts. Some people are creative, some are problem solvers, some are questioners, some are team builders, and so on. This will help you determine whether a specific person in the greeter ministry would fit better in the parking lot (where personal interaction is less) or welcoming people at the door (where personal interaction is greater).
Our personalities are developed by God, and should not be excluded as a means of growing the body of Christ. They are as susceptible to spiritual fine-tuning as any part of our being.
3. Explore needs in existing ministries. There is virtually no church with 100% volunteer capacity at all times. How does a person’s giftedness and temperament fit within existing ministry opportunities? Some things that seem insignificant can really bring a great deal of encouragement. You would not think it makes a lot of difference for the pastor to have a fresh water bottle on the stage each week, but you’d be shocked how much it does. A smiling, friendly person who welcomes preschoolers can relieve the anxious parent’s heart.
I grew up in a church with 30-40 people weekly, and since that time I have pastored churches of all sizes. One common denominator between these churches: they all have a major need for people to be involved in ministries. In fact, the larger the ministry, usually the greater the need.
4. Look for gaps between ministries. Some people are especially gifted to start new things. These entrepreneur types typically see the holes in ministry and figure out ways to fill them. To paraphrase Jesus’ words at Lazarus’ tomb, “Loose ‘em and let ‘em go!” Allow them to follow God’s leading and, before you know it, more ministry will be taking place within your church!
What does this mean?
Simply, it means people who were formerly unconnected will become connected. There is also a much better chance of each remaining connected as he or she takes ownership of the ministry role or becomes a team member.
Involvement Becomes Contagious
Ministry involvement can also lead to small group, Sunday school, and/or Bible study involvement. A person unconnected to a small group, but in a ministry relationship, already has a relational connection to the group. We find it easier to connect a person who has some connection already than a person who has none. This is true of ourselves and of others.
The new Bible Studies for Life Curriculum Series that kicks off this fall is committed to providing curriculum that will be so engaging that the unconnected will want to connect; however, we leaders must do what we can to get them there the first time and follow up engaging them weekly in a group.
Helping the unconnected find their role in the faith family will result in more ministry, more Bible study and stronger believers.
Yours for the Great Commission,
Ronnie FloydSenior Pastor, Cross Church Northwest Arkansas General Editor, Bible Studies for Life