My Ministry Setting Is “Servant-Challenged”

Your Question:

“How can I  best serve in a ministry setting that doesn’t foster servant hearts?”

The Issues:

Humans operate within “herds.” This is why “peer pressure,” social media “influencers” exist. Improving the “culture” of the church takes time and tapping into the power of “influencers” in the church.

Scripture Foundation:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5: 14-16

Short Answer:

There are churches and organizations in which the “culture” encourages or even expects that everyone serves in some capacity. It is a beautiful experience to be a part of this phenomena.  It is what God describes in Hebrews 10: 24, 25: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  This “culture” is a self-sustaining process. If it exists in a church or organization, you don’t really need to do anything to influence it, other than encouraging and celebrating it.  On the other hand, if a church or organization doesn’t foster or encourage people serving or developing “servant hearts,” it may take a long time to change that culture.

Changing the “culture” of a church or ministry is like turning a large ship. It can be done, but it takes planning, directed energy, and patience! Here are some ideas to influence the servant culture of the church, organization, or children’s ministry (CM):


1) “Starter Dough” – The settlers who traveled across the country in covered wagons knew how to make and transport bits of “starter dough” for bread making.  They would save some of the mixed bread dough and carry it with them in the wagon. Then, when they needed to make bread again, they would take a bit of that dough and make more around it.  This “starter” began the process of the yeast rising.  It’s the same with building a “culture” of serving “from scratch.”  You must start very small and let the “yeast” of a single or few people influence others.  Plan a very simple, small event or focus and invite people who already have servant’s hearts to participate in the effort.  Film the event or effort, focusing on the interactions between the children and the team members. Then, after the event or effort is over, interview those who were involved.  Ask them, on camera, to talk about their experience.  Ask them how they felt, and how enriching it was.  Edit portions of the actual event video together with portions of the interviews. Show the combination video to the entire church, during a worship service, and invite others to join you on the next event or effort.  Have sign-up sheets in the bulletin or in the foyer after the service.  Invite those who participated in the first event to now mentor those who join you for the next event.  This process of using “starter” people to influence others may take time, but it is the best way to “organically” change the culture.


2) Senior Pastor Involvement – Make sure the senior pastor is aware of the success of your small service efforts or events. Ask the senior pastor to share his support of the efforts during the service, or to possibly preach about the value and joy of serving others.


3) “Service Fair” – Meet with the person who oversees the coordination of volunteers in the whole church (if there is such a person) and discuss the possibility of a “service fair.” This “service fair” could happen on the same day that the senior pastor preaches about the value of serving others.  If there is a sermon about that, then the final challenge of the sermon could be to challenge everyone to become involved in some ministry that is offered by the church.  Then, the “service fair” exists in the foyer or other room of the church where each ministry of the church has booths with exciting volunteers who highlight what the ministry does and how to get involved. If there is a “new member” class, connect with that process to invite the “graduates” of that process to become involved in a ministry that suits them.


The “bottom line” of changing the culture of your church or organization is to start small and advertise the “fruit” of your efforts. Let the success and joy of others influence the culture to grow.


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