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Caring before They Start

Caring before They Start

A few years ago, my good friend Bill challenged me with an idea that I’m sure will stick with me for a long time. He said, “Your job as a pastor is to steward well the gifts and stories of the people.” Bill unpacked what me meant by explaining the most important assets of any church aren’t the buildings and budgets; rather, the God-given gifts of His people and the stories of life change that arise from those gifts in action.

If this is true – that we as leaders are responsible to steward well the gifts of our people – then we must care for them before they start serving in our ministries. Most leaders give attention to caring for their volunteers after they start serving. But let’s go back a few steps and think about how we can truly care for someone before they start.


Get To Know Them

Once someone expresses interest in serving, or you initiate a conversation about serving, start relationally. This first step requires time – sometimes lots of time – but it’s worth every minute you spend. Ask lots of good, open-ended questions and listen carefully. By starting relationally, you are communicating that you are interested in them as a person, and not just someone to ‘fill a hole’ on your ministry spreadsheet.


Help Them Get To Know Themselves

From there, take time to help them to get to know themselves. If someone has served before, they may already have a good idea what brings them to life. But if you’re working with someone without ministry experience, it’s very helpful to have them ‘test drive’ multiple environments in your church. Give them a chance to see ministry in action and debrief the experiences. In addition, have them work through a self-assessment tool like S.H.A.P.E. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience).


Train and Orient

Once you have decided together on a ministry area, it is essential that you train and orient them. If minors are involved, due diligence is required (background checks, reference checks, etc.) Always start from the ground up. Go over the big picture (vision, goals, strategy, etc.) and the details (expectations, communication, policies, etc.). Don’t assume they know something. Leaders almost always skip part, which will lead to frustration for everyone involved. Train them well, and orient them to your ministry and their team. By doing this, your people will feel equipped and cared for.

In my experience, it will take 4-6 weeks to do this well. These steps, which are all very relational in nature, will communicate value and care to each person you work with. Now, it’s time to get them started! But how do you care after they start? Let’s pick up that conversation next week.

Josh Rhodes
NextGen Pastor at LCBC Church
Josh is the Next Steps Director at LCBC Church, York Campus. Prior to LCBC, he served at Chestnut Ridge Church in Morgantown, WV. Josh received a Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies and Youth Ministries from Lancaster Bible College, and a Master of Arts in Theology from Biblical Seminary. He and his wife Hillary live in Lancaster with their three children - Sephora, Levi, and Pierce.