Well yes, it really depends on what you mean by having a “poor attitude”.
But extremes aside, if someone’s attitude is just “off” or “a bit grumpy” about being part of a ministry… what should you do? Tell them to stop serving until their attitude is right? Or, tell them to just righten-up their attitude?
I think there’s two lenses to consider this question… is there a human aspect? Is there a gospel aspect?
It could just be that life is all too much at the moment, and they’re stuffed. They might just be tired. That is, they might have a good gospel attitude (if you asked them) but they’re just not aware of how they are responding or how they’re appearing and speaking to other people. That means you’re in a position to offer wise counsel about how to plan to serve (avoid late night tv the night before, etc.) and how to smile and talk to people while they’re serving. You’re helping them do what they already think is a good thing to do… just better… without the apparent chip on their shoulder.
But, it could be that they don’t want to serve Jesus and his people, or they feel like that role is beneath them. They might think they shouldn’t really have to serve and that Christian service should be like the self-serve check-outs at the shops… sure you have to try a bit hard, but there’s certain perks to it?!? They might not think their life is Jesus’ possession.
Even in many of these circumstances, I’d want to suggest they keep serving while you work through it with them.
Because serving isn’t something Christians choose to do… it’s part of our DNA… we follow a servant king. Telling someone to stop serving is like telling a fish to stop swimming because they find the water too warm.
If possible have them keep on swimming, keep on serving and all the while, keep helping them feel the privilege of serving their saviour.
Both of these are good and vital to a growing church.
Informal ministry is simple good gospel deeds; they go under the radar, usually only seen by one or two. It’s things like prayer, meals, phone calls, catching up, helping, sharing life together.
Formal ministry is organised and/or appointed; it’s running the youth group, leading the growthgroup, putting a plan together for welcoming new people, organising the camp away. These people bear a weight of responsibility appointed by others (cf Acts 6).
If you cut all the formal ministry, and only had informal ministry… you might appear to be a loving community… but how would you know if everyone is getting informally loved? You’d need to appoint someone to be responsible for that! You need leaders, you need organisers, you need these roles in order to love many people.
If you push everyone into formal ministry only, people won’t have time for the messy business of life and helping people in the unplanned hard bits of life. You’ll miss out on loving people really well.
So surely we should endorse both… we should encourage people to look for ways to express Jesus’ love informally, take initiative and love others without asking for permission. And we should encourage people to work out how to serve “the body” with their gifts from God in formal ways, for the sake of many.
It is common for Christians to make a call for people to get involved or sign up to serve or even to give because there is a great need.
And there is a great need!
However, if the need is the only basis you ever use for that call you will usually get only average responses. When things are simply “needs” they only need simplistic solutions. Stop gaps. Temporary fixes.
However, when you call people to be involved in something massive, something’s that will matter and make a difference, you might get fewer people, but you will get more invested people.
It’s the difference between, “hey, we really really need Sunday school teachers or else the class can’t run” and “hey, there are 10 kids you are like sponges every Sunday, and you could be one of the people they thank God for putting in their life when they are 60 years old.”
If you’re going to ask someone to take on a responsibility, make it short. Not the responsibility… but the “ask”.
If you make the “ask” long and wordy, it will communicate that this task you’re offering them is so huge, so massive, so immense, that you have to take a long time to ask them. Instead, make it short.
“Hey Bill, could you lead a growth group night in a few weeks?”
Don’t say anything else. Just stop there. Let them answer. If they say no, that’s fine, all the words in the world probably wouldn’t have changed their mind anyway.
If they say, “Maybe” you can ask them what their concerns are, and you can address those concerns.
If they say yes, you can then go through the details they need to know.
If you make the ask BIG, then you’ll only freak them out by the apparent BIGNESS of the task.
One of my responsibilities is to help pastor everyone at our church to have servant hearts and find their way into serving in formal ways at HBC. We recently sat down and realised that the types of roles we would like (and need) people to jump into aren’t always that obvious.
Either they don’t know it’s an option, or they don’t realise we need people to step up.
We also realised that people probably didn’t have an idea that there were levels of responsibilities, and we needed people to keep stepping up into greater levels of leadership.
So we put out a one-pager that we can put in front of people and say, “hey, can I talk to you about where you might fit now, and where you might fit in the next few years…”
See it here. What do you think?
Some Christians will “humbly” say they can’t do this or they can’t take on that because they feel they don’t have the required skills. This presents an opportunity to pastor them:
- Jesus designed them with gifts to serve the body – maybe they do have those gifts – they just don’t know it yet?
- Jesus uses people to get his work done. It’s not your work, it’s Jesus’ work.
- People are too important to not let some things happen. Love for people drives us to do things we don’t feel equipped to do.
- Do parents feel equipped to be parents? No!
- This is an opportunity to trust God more than your trust your skills.
- Does this display a human-centric view of service and Christianity? Does God need you to be good-enough to serve him? No!
- Are you potentially afraid of what might happen? If it goes badly? If it goes well?
On one hand, married couples have a great ability to focus and influence and care and endorse. I love married couples who do team ministry. It’s great. There are certain seasons of life where this can happen more and others where it happens less.
But, it’s not always “best”. And it shouldn’t be a limiting factor in working out what you and your spouse are going to formally do with church. Why? It turns something that’s meant to be other-person-centred into something that is only thought about “on my terms”. Be very wary if you hear yourself say something like, “that’s not something we could consider because we can’t do it together.” That’s bad. In fact, I don’t even think it should be in the top 5 questions you ask to consider a particular ministry responsibility.
The married couples I’ve seen do ministry for the long term are those that encourage each other in their individual giftedness, rather than limit their serving to their overlapping giftedness. So, think about how you can encourage your spouse to serve Jesus in ways that you never could. Jesus made them for that… and Jesus gave your spouse a great helper to help them… you.