Chapter 3 – Connecting

Many churches include a statement in its vision or values about the "priesthood of the believer" or "every member a minister." However, most church leaders have no objective data about how well their flock does at serving in ministry. They do not know the ratio of participators to spectators. Also, they may be prone to actions that prevent fulfilling the every-member-a-minister mandate.

For instance, even if leaders are unaware of the big picture, usually they know specific success stories of members involved in ministry. In fact, it is not uncommon for leaders to pursue "five-talent people" as "star" volunteers. While that does allow some people to connect with ministry opportunities, what about the others? What about the one-talent or two-talent disciple? If they are not valued just as much alongside the five-talent performers, what does that really say about our so-called "belief" that all disciples must steward their gifts?

Leaders may also pursue people with specific kinds of prominent gifts as volunteers – such as teachers, pastors, small group leaders. What about those with less flashy gifts – helps, administration, hospitality? Aren't they needed in the Body as well? And how about people of various spiritual interest/maturity levels? Are only mature believers responsible (or allowed) to use their giftedness for the Kingdom? How will gifted members who are not very mature yet ever reach their potential if we do not allow them to practice their gifts now in tasks and responsibility levels that are appropriate to their current maturity level?

Overall, the Church in North America is doing poorly at connecting God's people to meaningful ministry. Despite the biblical requirement that all followers of Jesus serve through their giftedness, our ministry mobilization systems glare with weaknesses. If we do not meet this challenge and correct the underlying problems, we can expect the Church in North America to drift farther into irrelevancy.

Even if we do well at helping individuals identify their personality, spiritual gifts, abilities, and passions, our system falls apart if we fail to follow through and connect them with potential passion-driven ministry matches. We need an intentional strategy, sustainable structures, and wise workers to do this.

It won't work to expect people to connect with ministry opportunities only inside the church walls, any more than we should expect them to find their own way to appropriate opportunities in the community. And within the church, it won't work to expect people to limit volunteerism to public worship services. What about the other aspects of our five-fold mission: discipleship, evangelism, fellowship, and ministry? If we do not correct these flaws, it will compromise the future of our churches and leave us as irrelevant relics in our culture. How many people who do not yet know Christ may be influenced away from Him by our too-small picture of what He means for Kingdom ministry to be? We must incorporate more balanced strategies for allocations of time and resources in our mission to bring Jesus to the world.

Why would almost every church leader agree intellectually with the biblical mandate to use our spiritual gifts, but do so little to allow every believer to practice these truths experientially? Where did intellectual assent depart from experiential reality? And why do leaders often blame the difficulties in connecting members into ministry with how "complicated" the process can be? Jay believes that the blame should go to leaders' half-hearted commitment, use of an incomplete process, and/or inadequate training for a system of connecting, identifying, equipping, empowering, encouraging, and multiplying.

As a solution, the ideal connecting system includes intentional efforts by trained, non-ego-driven leaders to facilitate a complete process that values the contributions of all disciples for serving according to their gifts and spiritual interest/maturity level. These are the goals of PLACE Ministries' mobilyzr.