If you are going to build healthy teams, then you must be willing to train them and resource them. Hal Seed states this about the importance of developing a ministry growth plan — the goal of your Ministry Placement System is to get the right people into the right places of service, for the right reasons. Once they are there, your ongoing goal is to keep them well-fed and cared-for.” As a church grows, its central teams will also grow. Every major ministry should develop a ministry growth path. Show volunteers how they can take successive steps of responsibility and commitment.
This ministry development pathway might include: a one-time opportunity or project, regular service opportunities (monthly, bi-weekly or weekly), becoming an apprentice leader, developing into a team leader and even one day being a department coordinator. Once volunteers commit to a place of service, you need to have at least three phases of training for them. Before they ever begin to serve there should be the opportunity to observe and have an orientation process. They need to know what the expectations of the job are because unrealistic expectations always end in a train wreck. Is a background check required?
When they begin to serve, you need to show them what the team dynamic or position looks like. This training progresses from describing it to demonstrating the role for them. Explaining it is important, but seeing it in action is essential. Remember, it is not an explanation, but a demonstration. This type of “Show How” training demonstrates practical skills, like how to teach or how to discipline unruly children, and practical information like where to record attendance. “Show How” training was Jesus’ favorite method of training. You must be willing to ask regularly, “Does everyone understand how this works?”
The next step is “On-the-Job” training which is ongoing and is never completed. Once a volunteer has enough competence to begin ministry, continue to help them improve their abilities. Provide them with what can be called “As Needed”training. Jesus did not mention to His disciples that some sicknesses or demons could only come out with prayer and fasting until they were faced with a situation where prayer and fasting were needed (Mark 9:14-29). They learned the lesson because the need was so immediate. Some ministry teams will need to meet monthly for care and training while others are on an “as needed” schedule.
Set up your training in a way that honors their time and helps them to realize that they are your greatest asset. According to The Pareto Principle, 20% of the people will do 80% of the work. Therefore, the simplest means to grow a church is to increase its number of 20%ers. Every leader enables the church to care for five followers. Your first responsibility is not to care for every single person by yourself but instead to make sure that every person is cared for well. Always keep Eph. 4:12 in sight: “For the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”
For a church to minister to 50, it needs to have at least 10 leaders, to reach 100, it must have 20 leaders; and to reach 200, it must have 40 leaders. Whatever size your church is, you need to train team members and leaders equipping 20% of your leaders to lead the leaders. If you have 100 attending, you need 20 leaders, 5 leaders of leaders, and 1 person who is the leader of the leaders of leaders. You must figure out how to increase the 20% while making sure everyone can enjoy time worshiping. Shame on you if you overload them and don’t allow them this opportunity. Shame on them if they allow themselves to become too busy to worship.
Your leadership structure will not grow exactly like this, but knowing the theory helps you see why identifying, recruiting and developing leaders becomes increasingly important as a church gets larger. There are a couple of different ways of picturing your training. One is: I do you watch, I do you help, you do I help and then you do and I watch. Some use the acronym MAWL which stands for Model, Assist, Watch and Leave. There needs to be an apprentice-type system in place where people can test-drive different ministries. Your goal is the right person, serving in the right place, in the right way, at the right time!
Always look at your motives for why you do what you do. Are you using people to build your church or is your vision to use your church to build up your people? Eph. 4:13, goes on to say, “…growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” Churches are the healthiest when people are serving and when they are serving according to their spiritual gifts. Train your people to serve in the areas that interest them and where they are passionate about what they are doing. Celebrate their willingness to serve and the blessing that their service is to the Lord and to the church.
Pray and think through how to develop a ministry placement system that gives clear on-ramps for your people to get involved and have a place of ministry. Provide training that informs them of the expectations and clear job descriptions. Train and equip them in how to be effective in the role and responsibility where they have decided to serve. The great leader Nehemiah showed the people the work that needed to be done and how to carry out the task. The Scriptures tell us that they built the wall, “for the people had a mind to work” (Neh. 4:6).