Our charge conference is a little over a month away and we are working on filling committees and signing people up. But this year we are trying to do more than fill holes. We are trying to plug people into ministries. We want them to be active and to see ministry and service in the church as more than simply going to committee meetings, so we are trying a new tactic.
In 2 weeks we will hold a ministry fair. Each of our committees will be represented, as will each of our work areas. We are planning to entice people with food to visit each spot and learn more about the ministries and then sign up for where they'd like to serve. I've asked each ministry head to do a breakdown of how people can be in ministry (not just "sing in the choir" but also "sing a solo", "sing at the holidays" or "do special music when needed".) In other words, not all commitments need to be for a lifetime, or 3 years, or even a full year. Some people need to start slow. Others are super busy and really can't make another long-term commitment, but would be willing to help on occasion. So, we are trying to provide an outlet for people to sign up.
All of this really got started at a leadership training in the district. The only person who signed up to go with me was a 90 year old woman. Granted, she's wonderful and able, but it struck me that a 90 year old wanted to go. So, at one point in our discussion I asked her, "V, what prompted you to come today?" "Well, anything I can do to help the church I'll do it. I mean, I can do all kinds of things, but no one ever asks me, so I just keep my mouth shut." "Well, V, if that's all it takes..." "Well, what is there to do?" "Hmm....(V is already on a committee, so I couldn't suggest that type of service)..." I was dumbstruck. There are the homeless feedings we do at the shelter twice a month and Sunday morning breakfasts, but other than those opportunities, or Sunday school, which she already indicated she did not want to do, I didn't know what to say. I had to think for a bit and then offered some possibilities.
I was disappointed that it took so much thinking to think of an answer. It shouldn't be that hard. And if it's that hard for me as the pastor, I can only imagine how hard it would be for others...so, I decided we would do something about it. And that's just what we are doing!
So we have lots of sign ups to do, and lots of opportunities to present, and then lots of follow up to do so we actually help people serve where they want to.
Now, here's the rub (potentially anyway). Some of my mentors suggest being very particular about who you nominate to serve on committees. They suggest being stragetic about where you put people for the first three years at a church so you can get people where you want them to really support you in ministry. I understand that logic to a degree, but it also feels manipulative. I may feel differently if I get burned with this open ended option, but for now I struggle to do that. It feels controlling. I feel like people should serve where they feel called, where they have an interest. And hopefully, that's what will result from this ministry fair.
I am a little concerned about who will end up on which committee, but I don't want to rule people out just because it might be difficult to work with them.
On the other hand, I've had the most amazing trustee and SPRC chairs--actually all my committee chairs rock, I've just had to work most closely with the two above. So, it's hard to imagine working with anyone else. My SPRC chair has been my primary confidant at the church, and it's hard to prepare myself to share so deeply with someone else. If we were selecting people, then I could figure out who I'd want in that position and put them there, in essence, I could insure a good fit. But that seems forced. So, for now, I will sit and wait for the sign-ups and see what we get.
Team Leadership (a.k.a. nominating) still gets some say, they will have to take the committee sign up sheets and finalize things and they may have to move people around. Finance needs 5 people and if we only have 3 sign up, we will have to find more. On the other hand SPRC may only need 3 and may get 5 sign ups, and not all can serve. So there will be at least some level of screening, just not as much deliberation as we have done in previous years. But, hopefully, also not as much teeth-pulling as in previous years...
Wish us luck!