Originally published Wednesday, 17 January 2018.
Whether you are a Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, pastor, or some other ministry leader, if you have been in ministry for more than a few months, it’s likely that you are looking for some new ideas. What are we doing to keep things fresh? Are we flourishing and growing? Are there things I could be doing differently? Those are all questions you may have asked. I’ve picked up a few things over the last decade that I want to encourage you to consider:
- Have fun. This SHOULD NOT be a fresh idea, but it is. It seems that we often focus on the 13 points of the Bible study lesson, much more so than relationship. Of course, the Bible study lesson is vitally important! Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. But very often, the relationship should come before ministry. When the Lord opens up doors for us to fellowship, that’s when real ministry takes place. Christianity is a wonderful, life-giving adventure. We are on the ride of a lifetime with our Savior. Why can’t we have fun?! If we focus so much on “fixing everyone” and telling them all that they are doing wrong, we lose them. It is okay to laugh in church! It is okay to smile! Fun Ideas to consider for your next ministry gathering: play games, karaoke, competitive contests, ice breakers, scavenger hunts
- Be open to change. We often like things the way we like them. We want to do things the way they have always been done. If it fits in our schedule or if it’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s what we do. We like habit. We like predictable. I’m definitely a creature of habit. But let’s be flexible. Learn to evolve with the ministry as the Holy Spirit guides. Change means meeting nights may change, the style of the meeting may evolve, listening to the needs of your group through extended discussion time, or exploring different teachers for the group in different seasons. There’s nothing wrong with change.
- Consider the participants who aren’t there yet. When considering a change or when launching a new ministry at all, very often, we ask those we know – the ones who are in our lives, our current circle, or our churches. Begin to think of the ones who are not yet there. When is the “unchurched” girl most likely come to a Bible study? How could I think like the unsaved teenager that I’m trying to reach? Consider the precious ones who are not yet in your ministry, but desperately need to be there. When would it be better for them to meet? What are some topics that are broader in nature than just what our 5 girls like to talk about? You have to ask yourself some tough questions. Am I focused on those who are not yet here? Outreach?
- Ensure you have a team around you. Volunteers are the backbone of your ministry. Lack of volunteers means burnout. You NEED volunteers. Even if you are small in size right now, you need volunteers. If God wants to expand your territory, you need to be ready. You need to be positioned with team members in place to handle the harvest and disciple the attendees when He brings them to you. You cannot do it all. You will get bitter. You will exhaust yourself. Volunteers also get value from serving others, too. Suggestion on things volunteers can do within a ministry: Greeters, Registration, Prayer Team, Set-up/ Clean-up, Childcare, Food Service, Social Media Team, Hospitality Team to make calls afterward, Small Group Facilitators. Train your volunteers and stay in relationship with them. Get to know them.
- You stay in the Word. You stay healthy. Growth comes when God has positioned you. When you are filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit, it will come oozing out of every area. If you are leading on empty, it will also be evident. Again, we go back to bitterness, offense, anger, irritation, eye-rolling. Stay grounded. Stay faithful. Stay in the Word.
- Your ministry meeting is not the time for you to tell your story. It’s okay to interject some thoughts that happened to you personally that are relevant to the lesson you may be teaching, but NOT constantly. Be cognizant of the 80/20 rule. Listen more than you speak. Speak when you hear from God. Use wisdom. Too much talk leads to sin. You aren’t the Holy Spirit, so allow God to do the ministering. It’s okay to be silent, while others ponder a point or thought. God speaks when we are open to hearing from Him. Teach your attendees to hear from God. Too many Bible study leaders are doing all the talking, and there’s no room for the Holy Spirit to do the work.
- You have to be mature as a leader! You can’t be offended by what they did or said. You can’t use social media as a weapon. You can’t gossip and hide it behind a prayer request. Volunteers may criticize. Those you minister to may criticize. Be kind. No matter what!
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker, whose personal journey through homelessness, abuse, and multiple teen pregnancies is leaving audiences around the globe riveted. At 19, Maggio was pregnant for the fourth time, living in government housing on food stamps and welfare. She shares with great openness, her pain, mistakes, and journey to find hope in Christ. She ultimately became an 11-time Circle of Excellence winner in Corporate America. While a vocal advocate for abstinence, and sustaining today's marriages, Maggio recognizes that single parenthood exists and is passionate about seeing these parents thrive. She left her corporate successes behind to launch a global initiative to see single moms living a life of total freedom from financial failures, parenting woes, and emotional issues. Her passion is contagious, and her story has been used to inspire thousands around the globe. Today, Jennifer works to ensure that no single mom walks alone as the founder of the national profit, The Life of a Single Mom. For more information and resources, visit the website HERE.