I hate bad stats. They undermine the credibility of Christians and can confuse the issues. But when we apply stats wisely, they can be of great benefit.
While I often say, “facts are our friends,” they aren’t always friendly.
So while I often say “facts are our friends,” they aren’t always friendly. For example, in 2009, LifeWay Research found that 55 percent of church attendees believed they had grown spiritually over the last year, while only 3.5 percent of those displayed any measurable growth. That’s not a very warm and fuzzy stat, but it’s an honest one.
Over the last several years, we’ve been collecting data from the churches with which we consult. One of the key questions we were interested in had to do with serving.
We wanted to find out how many people are volunteering in one of the church’s ministries, either inside or outside the walls of the church. Here’s what we’ve found:
The average church engages four to five people out of 10 in some sort of serving role. For the purposes of this research, we assumed kids aren’t serving, and therefore they aren’t included in the percentage. However, there are a few churches that are creating serving opportunities for older children as well.
Ministry is too important to be done haphazardly. How we’re leading in the core of our churches has to do with life-changing, eternity-consequential decisions. Therefore, we need to think through what ministry is all about. Sometimes we are more strategic about our grocery lists than our approach to ministry.
"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but many.
Let me state the obvious: Pastors are human. That means they have preferences, likes and dislikes. So I did an unscientific Twitter poll to find out what pastors really don’t like about their job.
By the way, one pastor cautioned me about calling their ministries “jobs.” I understand, but it’s hard to fit “God-called vocation and ministry” into a 140-character Twitter question.
I was surprised at the variety of responses. Pastors are certainly not monolithic. No one response was greater than 20 percent of the total. And I was surprised at some potential responses that did not show up.
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance.
And I’m glad we didn’t.
It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. It’s backwards.
Your most critical component to a new ministry isn’t the idea to start it—it’s the leadership of the ministry. Every ministry rises and falls on leadership. Without the right leader, a ministry will just stumble along. It may even do more harm than good. I could tell you some horror stories about poorly led ministries.
How do you know when God is closing one door in ministry and opening another?
I get this question a lot and have previously addressed it, but recently I have received it more frequently, so I decided to write about it again. (I always note that this post is written about my experiences for people who may currently need it.)
Several times in my ministry, first as a layperson and since then in vocational ministry, God has called me to leave one ministry and begin another. It can be a scary place to face the unknown, yet know that God is up to something new in your life.