Chapter 4 – Identifying

Motivation in ministry is a "package deal." In the long run, we are energized when our primary ministry service connects deeply with all of who we are. This is why identifying that providential design is so critical to being connected into meaningful ministry. Ministry works best when it calls forth our whole being as God has uniquely created each of us – personality, spiritual gifts, abilities, passions, and life experiences.

We cannot sustain long term a job that is a mismatch for how God made us. Even if a lot of "work" gets done, we will eventually be undone by it. No amount of external manipulation by charismatic leaders or negative internal motivating by guilt or shame can change this reality. But how do we positively identify what areas of ministry might be best matches for us? And then, what do we do with that knowledge?

People are not machines. We cannot simply "input" all kinds of products (such as spiritual gift inventories) and preaching (such as messages on stewardship and service) and expect these things to work automatically in turning people into ministers. People are far more complex than that, products alone are not complex enough, and preaching is not the same as personal coaching. All these factors need to be woven into a coherent process that makes sense to people as they use the products and apply the preaching.

There are many other spiritual gift inventories and ministry identification products available. Unfortunately, they all lack an integrated, comprehensive mobilization process that encompasses connecting, identifying, equipping, empowering, encouraging, and multiplying. Most focus solely on identifying, and perhaps attempt to offer tools for electronic database matching of potential volunteers with programmatic job openings. Some contain the six elements, but they offer only disconnected bits and pieces that you have to figure out how to glue together, not an understandable whole. This lack of systems has become one of our key problems with helping people identify their potential best matches for ministry. It leads to minimal results in reaching our goal of incorporating more members into ministry – despite our sincere desires to expand God's Kingdom.

God wants us to be doers of His Word. It is perfectly fine to expect members to fulfill the biblical ideal and mandate to serve in ministry. However, that will only happen with an intentional strategy that goes beyond gift identification and enters the realm of full assimilation for connecting members in meaningful ministry. If we fail there, we miss our calling and lose our cultural relevance.