Have you ever felt like an observer at church? I bet you, like many others, have struggled with the thought "what’s my place here?" I can relate to that sentiment. I've found myself thinking "am I doing what I'm called to?" or "are we missing something by doing that same program over and over again?"
Unfortunately, many times influence and passion are squelched in the local church by self-preservation. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying there is some malicious person or governing team who are trying to oppress the people. But what if The Church was designed to be more like a body where the different members were needed in order to really make a difference that was bigger than any one individual or committee? Maybe that sounds familiar.
So what have you run up against when you got passionate and ignited for a cause? Maybe you volunteered recently and wanted to invite everyone to make a difference. Maybe you saw the power of local churches linking arms and serving as one and you wondered if your church was involved. You wanted to get your church engaged but then you had to run the committee gauntlet and face the announcement request monster. Suddenly you found yourself deflated and back to life as usual....like that all too common feeling about a month after a short-term missions trip.
I hope you aren't too discouraged because there is encouragement and you are not alone. We have a few pointers for how to stay passionate and invite those around you in your church to get involved in collaborative local missions.
Rule#1- The local church and its leadership are not the enemy. Like you, they are awesome people trying to do hard work with limited capacity and resources. Make sure you have the right heart when sharing and inviting….especially when the road gets tough.
Rule #2- Experience and consistency speak volumes. Remember that pastor and leadership team? They get bombarded with ideas and "we should do this" type statements all the time. Good leaders are looking for the people who are actually doing something and doing it with consistency.
· 1.) Get the conversation started- Share your experience volunteering and how you were impacted by it. Talk about how you saw volunteers from multiple churches loving each other and their neighbors. Make sure you aren't doing it all Sunday morning right before or after a service. Send an email, make a phone call, or schedule a coffee chat.
· 2.) Appeal to your audience’s values- If you are talking with a pastor or leadership, know that good leadership wants to see their people activated in their faith and they are probably looking for good ways to do that where they don't have to reinvent the wheel. BUT they aren't interested in one more pitch from a non-profit that doesn't really care about seeing the thriving of their local church.
· 3.) Know what you are asking for and be clear- Most pastors and church leaders are overwhelmed with the pressure to lead things. Know that when it comes to collaborative models of local mission, Compassion Connect helps equip lay leaders from their churches to own it. You aren't asking your pastor/leaders to go sit on some planning committee. You are asking them to encourage and support you as you go and do it and invite others from your sphere of influence to join you.
· 4.) Follow through and use the resources available- Make sure you follow through and do what you say you are going to do. Get the information the pastor/leader is asking for. Invite them to opportunities to learn more like a tour or an informational meeting. Compassion Connect is uniquely positioned to help you as a lay leader to get the resources and help you unite with other church volunteers and invite your community on this journey with you.
Passionate laypeople are a force of nature in mobilizing congregations to get involved in united neighborhood service. It can be a challenge, but completely worth the effort. Thank you for thinking big--let us know if there is any way we can help.