As Pastors, we’ve all been there at one time or another. There’s that one person who has asked over and over again to be part of a ministry that we know would be a bad idea. However, their persistence has turned into insistence and word is starting to filter out into the congregation about the situation. While you know the “back story” of why you would rather they don’t serve in that particular ministry, others have not been filled in, and of course, you’re not going to do that either.
Let’s face it… there are ministry opportunities that exist within the church that you have been attempting to fill for a long time, but it seems that to find a person passionate about a particular ministry, who is also gifted to serve can seem like an impossible task.
So we relent and give them what they’ve been asking for, or more to the point… demanding.
Here are 3 reasons why that’s a bad idea, AND you should leave ministry positions unfilled until you are sure you have the passionate person serving in the proper ministry.
First of all, giving someone a place in ministry (whatever that might mean for your particular situation) is a bad idea because it VALIDATES THEIR BAD BEHAVIOR. Like that one child in the store who continues with “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, etc.,” you are being worn down by their constant display of immaturity. You think “well, at least if I get them involved in ministry, that will keep them busy and life will be good for me.”
There’s no way any of us can know what the motivation of a person is for being so persistent to be involved in a particular ministry. For example, if your church has a Worship Team that ministers on a regular basis, without fail people will come to you who express the desire to be part of the Worship Team. Yes, you may be a large enough church to have an official tryout session, yet for many small churches, you’re just thrilled to have someone who can carry a tune (hopefully), who wants to be part of the team. If they can’t carry a tune, then that presents a whole new set of dynamics!
One approach might be to ask the interested person who is volunteering to sing or play on the team would take charge of organizing the music, whether that means preparing the sheet music ahead of time or loading the music sheets on the various electronic devices or whatever means you use. In other words, why not see if they are “faithful in the small things” before they move to being plugged into a sound system? There’s a possibility they will flourish in those areas, and you see something you might have missed previously, and as they show themselves to be faithful and teachable, you can THEN move them ahead in Ministry opportunity.
We’ve all heard the cliché “one bad apple spoils the bunch,” and folks, there’s a reason a cliché has become a cliché over the years and it’s because quite often it’s very true. While we realize people may or may not be gifted with the necessary talents to be involved in a particular ministry, there is something that goes far beyond gifts or abilities. This intangible is the “spirit” of a person which ultimately can affect the spirit of an entire ministry team and finally, the church as a whole.
No, we are not referring to the Holy Spirit of course, and in fact should be welcoming Him with open arms in all we do, including our decisions on who to involve on our ministry teams.
Don’t fall into the trap that if you give them their way and involve them, then their bad attitude and critical spirit will just vanish into thin air because you’ve been so kind to them and have earned their loyalty. Getting back to the child in the store, every parent who either has children or has had children in that situation knows that you may gain a short-term victory as you give them what they want, and enjoy the peace and rest that comes with it. However, there will always be another trip to the store and the cycle will not only repeat itself but will increase in intensity as the prize gets bigger with every trip!
As the persistent one becomes part of the ministry team, you may notice a subtle statement here and there, and while you can’t put your finger on it, you know there is something that has been injected into the situation that is impacting the motivation and spiritual climate of the entire team.
It is far better to have some short-term difficulty in dealing with a person such as this than involving them in a ministry that ultimately will affect the unity you enjoy and which brings honor to the Lord.
Another reason not to involve someone with this kind of spirit is that it can set a precedent that may take years to overcome. Usually, someone who has this type of spirit is not only known to you as one who would not be helpful to the ministry, but others around you are also in tune with what is needed in that ministry environment, and they know involving them would be a mistake.
If we go ahead and involve them, people from that point on could easily say “well, you allowed so and so to come on the team a year back and since you did it then, why not now for another one?”
There’s that awful moment we’ve all been in when we suddenly or maybe even gradually realize the gravity of our mistake. Those who have served in ministry leadership positions for years know it can be much more difficult to “fire a volunteer” than it even is to fire a staff member! So often, volunteers are part of families who have been part of that church for years, and they know in their minds at least that staff members are a “dime a dozen,” but those who are part of the church family structure are there to stay.
It is FAR better not to open the door in the first place than to open the door and realize that the door has been left open for all to follow because the precedent has been set and the standard of serving on that ministry team has been lowered.
Again, give it time and even allow that ministry position to go vacant until you have the right person with the right passion and purpose!
This is such a challenging part of the ministry, and I don’t think there’s a church leader alive that enjoys the thought of saying “no” to someone who truly wants to be a part of a ministry team. Perhaps you have ways and systems to deal with all applicants that helps you to “weed out” who belongs and who doesn’t, but remember, the vast amount of churches are not large enough to have a system in place because they just “need” some warm bodies to serve!
We need to be careful about putting a call out via the bulletin or church announcement that certain ministry positions are available. Some positions should only be filled by personal invitation instead of the “let’s just throw it out there” approach.
It also goes without saying that regardless of church size, especially in this day and age we live, proper procedures MUST be followed when it comes to involving anyone in ministry to children and young people. Even then, nothing is failsafe, but it’s important that we have at least covered the necessary bases in the application process for volunteers.
The church could not be the church without people who volunteer for a ministry and then serve with excellence. Thank God for those who do so!
While these are just a few of the reasons why giving someone a ministry position because they are persistent is a bad idea, but perhaps you have some to add. Feel free to do so in the comments area below.
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