Ash Wednesday was just a week ago. I was really impressed with the number of people who showed up for ashes. I was thinking that If all the people who showed up to get ashes on their forehead really left the church with lives changed by the gospel, the world would change overnight. The problem is most of the people were following tradition and the ashes created by the residue of burned palms from last Palm Sunday were placed in the shape of a cross on each adherent.
Off they went to continue life as they had before, except I might say that many planned to cutback or give up something for the forty days of lent. If we are who we say we are, doesn’t the word of God tell us that we should lay down our lives as living sacrifices on the altar of service for the King of Kings. (Romans 12:1-2) Motivation must move people beyond ritual into the reality of service. Motivation must begin in the soul and impact our heart, our mind, our body and all of our conduct.
An important element in energizing the church is motivation. You can recruit people through marketing methods and get them into the pews, but if you do not motivate them to engage in the church, you can end up with a church full of people watching you do the work of the ministry. Some churches give a title of minister to the members of their congregation, but that loses meaning if those members are not motivated to find their gifts and take their place in the family of God. That’s part of the success of Evangelism Explosion. The pastors recruit members and take them to visit and spread the good news of the gospel, both to teach and motivate them to witness to their neighbors.
Once you have recruited a person, the next looming question is how do you motivate them? The best motivational source is the Holy Spirit. When a person finds a new life in Christ, they are anxious to learn more and do more to grow in their relationship with Him.
Often when the church holds new member classes they begin by giving the history of the church and tell people why they will benefit by becoming a member. In a sense they sell the church and not the responsibility of servanthood to those who respond to the call to membership. We often take a statement of faith in Christ from the individual and then welcome them into fellowship without any real engagement requirements for them apart from encouragement to attend and give their tithes and offerings. Then every week we plead for volunteers to serve in every aspect of service with little training or mentoring. The people who enter into a relationship with Christ are not volunteers but part of a priesthood of saints who need to find their place of service in the body of Christ.
It is my opinion that the church should approach any new membership class with anticipation and expectation for engagement. People who are candidates for membership should be charged with the excitement of building the future by entering into training, skill development, gift discovery and finding an area of interest in which they can serve.
Each person should be made to feel their importance in the task of fulfilling the great commission. Lay out the benefits of a church committed to them with the expectation for them to be committed to the work of the church. Challenge them with the responsibility that every Christian has to find their place in the body of believers and reinforce how important they are in carrying out the work of the body. There is one spirit, one body and one mind in Christ.
It is only as people are motivated to move on their call to service that we can begin to implement an active process of engaging them in the equipping process. If we are going to empower people, we must begin by seeking ways to create a climate so that they will respond to the call of God in their lives. In secular terms this is done through motivation.
People need to know what they are signing on to when they become part of the church. Expectation should not have an empty ring at the end of the speech. Do not begin with signing people up for long term commitments. Be a Sunday School Teacher, be an elder, be a deacon, be a youth advisor, be on the financial committee and the list goes on and on.
What do I want to be and what are my talents, gifts, and restraints as to what I should be at any stage of life. Are my life skills suited for the job or are there people who can guide me in my determination as to where and how to serve? Where do I start and how do I get there while carrying out my other responsibilities of family, work and personal growth? These are all addressed in my book “More Than Volunteers.” You can find a step by step process of engagement. Be sure to read the book.
The motivational series includes sessions on “A Place For You, Discover Your Gifts and A Servant in Service. These sessions stir the hearts of people to realize their worth in the family of God, their capacity to serve and the avenues of service available to them as they launch out into service.
Serving Jesus is never a spectator sport except when you stand by and see the results of your service bring the miracle of redemption to the lives of others. Each time you grow in confidence and stature as part of the priesthood of believers.
I believe the reason the church is losing membership and not growing as it should is because people feel that everything the church is asking of them they can do without the institution. There is little motivation to step outside one’s comfort zone to do much they can not do through some other community agency. Society’s emphasis on the mental, social, and physical at the expense of the spiritual is the platform of the natural world.
The spiritual as the world sees it is ill defined, swishing back and forth from feeling, meditation and religion in its definition. Christians are being herded into the pen of private contemplation rather than public influence. Churches majoring in the social gospel have lost their balance when it comes to driving the very thing the world needs which are hearts changed by the power of the gospel. The people of the world will always resist the power of the changed life. That’s why Jesus said that they will despise the very premise of Christian faith based activity.
The Christian Church must motivate by proclamation of the gospel and the responsibilities that come to the individual when they receive and believe the message. The minute I internalize the message of the living and active Word, it becomes mine even as I become a member of the body of Christ. I live for the Savior and I die to make His message known.
Motivation is more than just a pep rally. It is a life changing event. To know Christ and make Him known is our battle cry. it is not a battle with people. It is a battle with the powers of darkness that dominate the unregenerate mind and heart. Let us sound the battle cry against darkness. People are doing what they are doing because they are who they are…dead in trespasses and sin.(Ephesians 2)
Let us push back the darkness with the power of the gospel. Let us tell the good news that when people’s hearts are changed by the miracle of redemption, the world changes for the better. Want to fight poverty? Preach the gospel with a loaf of bread, a glass of water and a place of shelter, but don’t for one minute stop preaching the gospel. Remember that Jesus himself was homeless. A loaf of bread to the poor without the message is not the work of the church. The witness of the gospel is the great commission of the church in fighting poverty and bringing hope for the eternal future of the people of the world.
“Seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
In my last blog I wrote about the big box and the box, the value and the price. What shall one do? One of the things I suggest in my book “More Than Volunteers” is that when a person shows interest in taking the next step of joining you on the journey and asks you “What shall I do and where shall I go from here,” be ready to help them with the next step. This entails some time together exploring how they can become a productive force in service. That will be addressed in a future blog under the title “Matching and Mentoring.”