“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
― George Bernard Shaw, Leadership Skills for Managers.
As churches, we can print brochures, hand out bulletins, make announcements, create pre-service PowerPoints and yet it remains that face-to -face exchanges continue to be the most effective form of communication. On September 27, Absarokee Evangelical hosted a Ministry Fair for just this purpose…communicating, one-on-one, about a huge problem facing every congregation. Most leadership in the church have heard about the 80/20 rule. That is, 20% of the church people do 80% of the work. Well, Absarokee Evangelical Church challenged that rule by asking all regular attendees high school age and over to serve within the church in at least one way.
The “Ministry Fair” itself, was held during the worship service, after a shortened sermon, for maximum participation. Tables for the various ministries were set up lining the interior walls of the sanctuary with 40 minutes dedicated to allow folks to visit the tables (see photos). “I am AEC”, the theme chosen for the event, was designed to personalize the message that everyone is needed to serve in one way or another. This challenged individuals and the entire congregation to renew their dedication and commitment to the mission and programs of AEC. Everyone was asked to walk around the sanctuary to visit various booths where ministry leadership had sign-ups available and could answer questions. Some people think serving the Lord is only done in high-profile positions but the Fair emphasized that there is something for all to do, whether making coffee on Sunday, becoming a greeter, providing transportation to a shut-in, washing windows, folding bulletins, etc. It was a wonderful time of networking demand and supply. We even had a person dressed up as a professional caterer giving out cheese cake bites set on a tray of H’or dourves.
In preparation for this event there was a month-long sermon series centered on 1 Cor. 12:7 (“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.”) and 1 Peter 4:10 (“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.”). Sermons encouraged everyone age 18 and over to complete a Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire.* Too often, because of a need, we ask people to take a position simply to fill a void rather than match their passion, personality and spiritual gift. The desire was to fulfill what God created people to do. The information gleaned from the questionnaires has been loaded into the churches data base to match needs within the church to individuals’ giftings.
Doing the “Spiritual Gift Month & Ministry Fair” has engaged people and mobilized them for ministry. The Ministry Fair accomplished a dual purpose of inviting individuals to serve within the various ministries of the church and also making certain that everyone was given opportunity to make connections, a key to creating a sense of “belonging.” And we know if people don’t feel they belong, they won’t stay. AEC will definitely use this concept or a variation of it in the future. If you have questions or would like us to send you some resources we used please call the church @ 406-328-4499.
The church is one of the most blessed resources on earth when it comes to talent. Lord, use ME!
* The Wesleyan Spiritual Gifts Questionnaire/Test we used was designed by Dr. Allan Odell a long-time professor at Western Evangelical Seminary and faithful servant of the Lord. He has recently passed, but labor of love still goes on.