Involving the Uninvolved

by Karen Finke

Church leaders are well aware of the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of the people do eighty percent of the work, while eighty percent of the people sit quietly in the pew, seemingly content to do nothing to contribute to the life of their local church body. But are they really content, or are they uninvolved because no one has asked them to contribute?

Involving the uninvolved in ministry and fellowship is one of the greatest challenges in women's ministry today. All across the country leaders are asking the same question-how do we get the women involved? An answer that rolls all too quickly is "Women today are too busy." While this is a legitimate reason and certainly one that should be considered, I'm not sure that is the sole answer to the question. Reality shows us we have time for the things we value. We will repeat activities in which we are fulfilled and make meaningful contributions. And we are likely to encourage someone else to join us in these.

So the question remains: Why do so many women remain uninvolved in ministry and the events planned specifically to meet their needs? Although as many reasons exist as there are women, here are a few we often see.

  1. Women today are busier than in years past.
  2. Events are scheduled at times when women are not available to attend.
  3. Lack of quality child care.
  4. Some women are not interested in women's activities in the church.
  5. There is no ownership in the event or ministry.
  6. They do not know anyone involved.
  7. Ladies are unaware of their giftedness.
  8. Fear of not being accepted.
  9. Real needs are not being addressed.

A necessary element to involving the uninvolved

We must be intentional as we seek out the uninvolved. Being intentional means that involving the uninvolved becomes a ministry philosophy. This philosophy says individuals are important and we are not recruiting folks only to fill a position. We are not inviting ladies simply to increase our numbers.

Adopting this intentional mindset will require leaders to ask some hard questions of themselves and their ministry teams. Do we really believe every Christ follower in the body is gifted with a spiritual gift(s)? Do we really believe that, because of these gifts, every believer can contribute in a way that benefits the entire body? Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:18 "God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted to be" (my emphasis). And further in the same chapter he says "those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, the parts we think less honorable we treat with special honor."

If we really believe what Scripture says about each person's place in the church, then we would be amiss by neglecting to be intentional in searching for and calling out those who will not always stand in the front of the line. The entire body will suffer and the individual will be unfulfilled as a follower of Christ.

Ideas for creating an intentional ministry philosophy

  1. Leaders should continually challenge the ministry team to look to the unlikely and to those who have not served before.
  2. When enlisting new committees for special events, include at least one person who has not served before.
  3. Assign one person on the ministry team to have the responsibility for the uninvolved. A perfect choice would be someone with the gift of shepherding and/or mercy and with a passion for seeing women grow in their relationship with Christ.
  4. A new member ministry could be established. One church I know has ministry team members personally deliver one of the women's ministry mugs along with information about the ministry to each new lady that joins the church. This gives them the opportunity to get face to face with her and discover any ministry needs as well as her interests and gifts. Consider using Transformed Lives for training that includes New Member Shepherding.

Being intentional, identifying the uninvolved, and then extending one on one invitations to events and activities is only the beginning to an important end. The real purpose and goal is to integrate the uninvolved Believer into meaningful fellowship and active ministry where the gifts God has given them can be used. After all, as leaders, we are responsible to help others discover their giftedness, "to prepare God's people for service" (Eph. 4:12).

Adapted from Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women's Ministry.

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