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Practical Ministry Skills

Christ-Centered Mindset
Sue Mallory
The goal is to grow toward a gifts-based ministry, where people serve out of their gifts and passions.
See “Cultivating a Culture of Service in Your Church” Training Pack


Topics: Leadership, Servanthood, Service, Spiritual gifts, Volunteer recruitment, Volunteers
Filters: Pastor, Pastoral care
References: Philippians 2:1

Any discussion about core values as they relate to church volunteers must begin with a distinction between a volunteer-management mindset and a Christ-centered ministry mindset. A volunteer-management mindset evaluates the church’s needs and finds someone willing to take on the task, with little or no regard for the gifts, talents, or passions of the individual.

A Christ-centered ministry mindset, however, makes every effort to discover a person’s unique gifts and calling, and to encourage each person to serve where God has equipped him or her to do so.

A ministry mindset starts with the assumption that a local church already has all the gifted people it needs to accomplish the ministries God intends it to have right now.

Reorienting your church mindset starts by assessing how the church currently relates to the people who serve there: First, does your church communicate that it really trusts lay people to accomplish the ministry? Trusting people means allowing them to fail. Accountability is often learned by experiencing the impact of “what I didn’t do.”

Second, what happens when no one’s gifts or passions seem to match what needs to be done? When you must ask people to do something outside their interest, it is important to remember that people serve in the church out of their faithfulness to God, not out of obligation. Service to Christ will always be a combination of faithfulness to Christ and stewardship of our gifts. The goal, however, is to grow toward a gifts-based ministry, where people serve out of their gifts and passion. At times that means church leaders must be willing to let a ministry die.

Here are five principles to remember when working out your values with church volunteers:

  1. Discover members’ spiritual gifts. People keep commitments better when they’re in the right ministries.
  2. Work God’s plan. The gifts of available workers should determine the types of ministries you operate.
  3. Appoint a church matchmaker. A director of lay mobilization matches people with service opportunities.
  4. Accountability is learned. Trusting means letting people fail sometimes.
  5. Match authority and responsibility. This gives workers power to succeed.

The right people in the right places for the right reasons communicates to your church, your neighborhood, and the world that Christ lives in and through every person. Indeed, gifts-based ministry is ultimately the fulfillment of the Great Commission: God’s people living out their discipleship in ways that proclaim that the Savior changes lives.

—Sue Mallory is the author of The Equipping Church (Zondervan, 2001) and co-author of The Equipping Church Guidebook (Zondervan, 2001); adapted from Leadership Journal, © 1999 by the author or Christianity Today International/ Leadership Journal. For more articles like this one, visit www.leadershipjournal.net.