“Sitting in a garage doesn’t make you a car anymore than sitting in a church makes you a Christian”
I am not sure who first said this but I have heard many ministry leaders use it. Sometimes in ministry we judge someones level of commitment by their attendance at our ministry events. We think that someone is more committed as a follower of Christ if they attend everything we offer in our church or ministry. Yet really wise ministry leaders go beyond attendance to look at someone’s heart.
As a ministry leader here are four questions to ask about attendance:
- Is this person a Christian who is overcommitted? Sometimes the most committed Christians have over extended themselves and they don’t have any spare room in their schedule. These might be people who have their finger in many ministries rather than committing just to your ministry. As a ministry leader of this group of people you have to acknowledge that they serve God not you. You have to help these people live out their mission and appreciate any small amount of time they can give you. Perhaps you might even encourage them to skip your ministry to take some sabbath time.
- Is this person learning to follow Christ? Sometimes the people in our ministries don’t get that they should serve the Church because they are still learning; they don’t get it because they don’t get it. Some people may have been around the church a long time but they are not a follower of Christ, they just are doing what their family have trained them to do. As a ministry leader of this group of people you have to have a lot of patience. With people in this group you need assume nothing and go back to basics, explain that being a Christian means serving more than attending. Some of these people may never have seen good ministry in practice so you will have to role model it for this group.
- Is this a Christian with a lack of commitment? Many people have a lack of commitment, some people are graced with a commitment to the church others aren’t. With this group of people you might have to be a little stronger and a little shorter in patience. As ministry leaders we don’t often feel comfortable saying “that is just not good enough”. I have met some young people who are always on time for their job, always upfront with teachers/lecturers yet they feel the Church should be happy with what ever they give; the Church should be happy with the left overs. The best thing you can do for these people as a ministry leader is raise your expectations of them.
- Is this a Christian who has lost their vision? Sometimes we come across a committed Christian who has lost their focus, lost their passion or is discerning a change of direction. As a ministry leader to this group of people you need to help them explore where God is calling them. Perhaps you need to encourage them to take a break for deeper level of prayer, perhaps you need to be their spiritual director for some time or perhaps they should serve in a broader range of ministries. As a ministry leader to this group of people you can help them by sharing why you are passionate about you area of ministry.
These are just four examples and we know people are more complex that just one of these four categories. But these four groups of people do exist in your church/ministry and you need to be aware of their different understanding on attendance. As ministry leaders we have to go beyond attendance, seeing the mark of faith on someone and help them grow deeper in Christ.
Please leave a comment about the examples of attendance vs commitment that you have seen in your church or ministry.