I get it. Some churches feel they have no option but to have a rotating schedule for certain ministries on Sunday mornings. Most have the rotation because the church only offers one worship service so if someone served in the nursery each week they would miss corporate worship. Most churches seem to always struggle to fill the nursery with needed ministers/volunteers.
Here is what happens when we have rotating schedules:
35 spots to fill on Sunday morning. 100 church members to draw from for ministry. In the average church they say (I’m not sure who “they” are) 20% of the church does 80% of the ministry. The result is the church ends up with empty places of ministry each Sunday because members are on a rotating schedule. They serve once a month or every other week. This leaves a continual need to fill ministry positions.
When I arrived at NHC our nursery team served on a rotating schedule. We were always in need of nursery workers. Plus the babies were freaking out each week because it was a “new” face taking care of them each week. Babies and children need stability and continuity. Most of our nursery workers served twice a month. When I announced we were moving to serving in the nursery every week there were a few who didn’t like that idea. The nursery team lost a few members but guess what? The team was fully staffed because we quit rotating. When we rotated we needed 8 on the team. When we switched to serving every week we only needed four. This freed up four members to serve elsewhere in the church on Sunday morning. A couple stayed on as permanent substitutes in the nursery which solved the panic of filling a spot when someone was sick or out of town.
When we switch to serve every week schedule we free up half of our members to serve in other places filling the holes we have in ministry.
Moving away from a rotating schedule:
1. Offer a second worship service. If it is at all possible offer a second worship service so your members can serve in one and participate in worship in the other service. Our policy at NHC for ministries outside of the main worship service is this: you serve in one service and attend the other service. Big step for a church but certainly one worth investigating.
2. Paint the picture. Call a team meeting and use a whiteboard to diagram how the constant struggle to fill ministry positions could be solved if your teams quit rotating. Let members see it to help them understand it. The number one question people will ask, “What if I need to be out of town?” My answer is most of the time you know when you will be out of town and your team leader will adjust the schedule accordingly. People get sick or have legit emergencies, that’s just life. Plus our new non rotating schedule frees up volunteers to serve as substitutes. We have weekly subs in our children’s ministry who serve each Sunday substituting for someone who is sick or on vacation.
For Student Ministry: Training your team and teaching them about the impact that relationships and consistency has on students can often sway the ones who rotating to serve each week.
3. Make the decision. Have a team meeting and e
xplain the new ministry schedule, you will lose some from the team but the needed spots will be filled and this will free up others to serve elsewhere. At the same meeting ask for commitment to the team. The ones who feel they can’t serve every Sunday ask them point blank “where would you like to serve in the church?” Help connect them to another ministry team. When you see the problem and you know the solution you need to take the steps to initiate the change.
4. Let SHAPE be your guide. God has wired each Christ follower for ministry. If someone is passionate about their ministry they will want to serve as much as possible. I had a lady on our hospitality team that rotated ask me this, “Why can’t I serve each Sunday morning?” She loved here ministry and that’s what she wanted to do. She found joy in serving in a way that fit her SHAPE. (check out the book SHAPE by Erik Rees)
If your church is in need of ministers for your ministries a good evaluation is a great step to moving forward. If you are rotating you may find the ministers you need are already serving but simply need to be asked to increase their commitment level. Remember, if someone is serving in a ministry that is their passion they will want to serve as much as possible because in their ministry they find great joy and fulfillment.