Important Lessons from Decades of Including People in Ministry

I have worked with people for decades now. I didn’t start out thinking about working with people, I started out thinking about helping people. In some ways, that has never stopped.

As a high school student, I mowed yards – a lot of them, more than twenty for a few summers. I enjoyed people’s stories, and often scheduled the Burnes’ Home as the last of the day so I could sit on their patio and visit over lemonade after mowing. I enjoyed including others in almost everything I did. I invited others in to help with mowing yards, go on church trips, help organize things around the house, and more.

Maybe I learned it from my Granny. Whenever I showed up at her house, the “including” would come right after the typical greetings: For example, “Tim, you’re tall, could you help me get this clock down and change the batteries?” Some might say she made others work, but others would say she included people.

I have experienced many connections and learned what motivates people who serve as I’ve worked in music and worship ministry with rotating bands and team members since the mid 1990’s.

At our church, I’ve been the primary leader for volunteers in worship and hospitality. In those arenas, you need a full slate of servants each and every week. Sundays roll around every seven days and come at a quick pace when you’re planning for people to serve. Thankfully, the Lord gave me the needed prep for these roles – the heart behind inviting people. It’s more than warm bodies and slots to fill. It’s giving people the opportunity to use their gifts to make a kingdom difference while growing in skill, friendship, community, and effective ministry.

With Harvest, I’m part of the mission ministry, which raises partnership support to continue in effective work. We’re grateful for the many people whom God has sent our way to have our backs – literally, our financial backing. Their support allows us to continue being a light to the next generation through music and ministry all year long. Inviting people (and receiving people) to join us in this awesome endeavor has been a joy for nearly thirty years now.

Here’s my short list of things I’ve learned about people:

  • People like to be needed and asked. They like to help out when their gifts align with the need.
  • People like to enter the story and experience success.
  • People like to be noticed, liked, and thanked.
  • People like to give their opinion and be heard.
  • People like to share stories and have an audience.
  • People will give their all when they understand the why behind the invitation and calling.
  • People don’t commit to institutions, they commit to people.

More items could definitely be added to this list. But I’ll stop here.

Friendships, connections, and ministries have seasons; and no one should be afraid of changing seasons. God never changes, and we’re always connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether or not we’re in the same ministry roles together.

For each person with whom I serve, a huge thank you!

I’m looking forward to continuing to include people in ministry in some way or another – maybe for the rest of my life.

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