Getting people involved in church ministry can be a source of frustration for pastors. In most congregations, only twenty percent of the members carry all the responsibility of the church. God wants all believers to be involved in their local congregation and to be fruitful (John 15:1-8). How can pastors and church leaders motivate their members to be involved and productive? Here few things that may help.
Preach (motivate with) the Word. The bible says, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” ( 2 Timothy 4:2 NKJV). Tell them what God expects – motivate them through the Word. He expects His people to be involved and use the gifts He has given them. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10 NASB). God promises His Word will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:10-11). It is the responsibility of the fivefold ministry to equip and motivate our people “for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:11-13). Let’s challenge them with the Word of God!
Be positive. When motivating your people always be as positive as you can. Negativism beats the people down. Jesus said, “Feed my sheep” (John 15:16 KJV) not beat my sheep. Challenge them in the most positive way you possibly can. This will build them up spiritually, mentally and emotionally for the task God has gifted and called them to.
Encourage your people. Always be encouraging both in your preaching and personal contact. Let them know you believe in them and know they “can do all things through Him who strengthens me” – them (Philippians 4:13 NASB). Encourage them to try different ministries and areas of involvement until they find what God has called them to. Challenge them that once they find their function in ministry it will bring them the greatest fulfillment in life they could ever imagine.
Train in small increments. Don’t overwhelm them. Give them small tasks in particular areas of involvement that won’t take long to complete. Long term commitments will often seem overwhelming and they will be afraid to commit or even try. Let me give a couple of brief examples. You can do this in similar ways in nearly any area of ministry.
1. Let them teach a class. If you wanted to test them out in teaching a class you might ask if they would mind helping out in a particular class for only two or three weeks. Only request they do a specific portion of the class and observe the primary teacher the remainder of the class time. If they seem to fit and feel comfortable you can expand it by asking them to do another week or two and ad another portion of the class to what they have been doing.
In doing it this way, you are not making a long term commitment either. If they appear to be a gifted teacher you can continue moving them forward. If it does not seem to be their area of expertise – you are both off the hook. You can test them out in a different area of ministry at another time.
2. Evangelism. Let’s say you were wanting to motivate your people toward door to door evangelism. (This can be true for any area of evangelism.) If you attempt to get them to go out with you every week, most people would be afraid to even try. If, however, you spend a few weeks promoting evangelism and end with challenging them to go out with you for only two Saturdays and for just one to two hours maximum, many could muster up enough courage to give it a try. You might find many of your people getting fired up for soul winning. You could then repeat this every six months or yearly.
Use incentives. Reward is basic to life. We work every week because we are promised a pay check. God also rewards our service for Him (1 Corinthians 3:9-15 and 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). Our people need encouraged that God will reward their service for Him. We are saved by grace but reward is earned.
Using more immediate incentives can help motivate our people to get involved and be productive. For instance, if you are trying to get your people to bring visitors to church, you might have some sort of contest. The contest should have some kind of reward or prizes for the person, couple or family who brings the most visitors in a limited time period. Many restaurants and other businesses will give out gift certificates for specials things if they know it will promote their business.
Use your imagination. There are all kinds of things you can do to offer incentives to your people that will encourage involvement. You might try an Internet search for additional ideas. Hopefully this has given you a beginning place and the Holy Spirit will guide you from here and stir your imagination.
Awards. It is always a good idea to have an award ceremony once or twice a year for the workers you have. This can be a wonderful source of encouragement for their service to the Lord and the local church. Bringing attention to those who are presently being used of God in the local church may also be an encouragement for those sitting on the sidelines to get involved.
Set attainable goals. As Pastors, we often have an overall vision for what we believe God wants for our ministry. This is great for “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 KJV). However, people need to see things in more short term increments. They need to be able to see the fruit of their labor. One of our greatest challenges is to break down our vision (goals) into smaller segments – something our people can see in the not so distant future. Do projects and short term goals that you know are attainable. In doing so your people will be encouraged, get excited and fired up. Before long, you’ll be hearing them proclaim “What’s the next challenge God has for us?”
Prayer: Father God, I know you desire for your people to be involved and productive. Give me the wisdom and the imagination to motivate them to be used of you and bear much fruit. In Jesus name, Amen!