A few days before Christmas I found myself in my bedroom with my wife staring at wrapping paper, tape, scissors and some gifts that needed to be wrapped. I had volunteered to help Misha wrap the gifts for the kids. I was only about 5 minutes into the project and had only wrapped two presents and I was done both mentally and physically. I’m the worst gift wrapper ever. I don’t enjoy it and when I’m done it looks like a pre-schooler has done the wrapping. I quickly bailed on my wife and the wrapping project. I had great intentions, I wanted to help, I wanted to do something and to be a part of the prep for the celebration but I was miserable. I was the square peg trying to fit into the round hole.

In ministry we set up our members for failure when we plug them into a place of serving that just doesn’t fit how God created them to serve. Probably most, if not all, churches find themselves looking to fill holes in ministry in their church. In the need to fill ministry positions churches will plug someone into a ministry that is not their fit at all. It doesn’t take long for the member to feel “burnt out”. They aren’t really burnt out, it is just they don’t enjoy serving where they are placed.

How do we avoid trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?

Here are a few ideas:

Avoid Desperation
I can sit and think of several ministries I would love to see our church doing but truth of the matter is without ministers there can be no ministry. Don’t simply plug members into places to serve because there is a need. I can’t think of one ministry team in our church that would say, “we are fine with our team the size it is, we don’t need anyone else.” Patience in ministry is hard but sometimes we try to get ahead of God.

Provide Discovery Opportunities
We need to give our members opportunity to figure out their spiritual gift, their talents and experiences as well as their passion. Offer a class/training that helps members discover how God has shaped them to serve. If someone understands how they are wired they are more likely to find success and joy in serving. For ministry team leaders there is a huge benefit to knowing how each person on the team is shaped to serve. (SHAPE by Erik Rees is a great resource)

Let Passion Guide Placement
If a member is passionate about their ministry they will wake up on Sunday mornings excited to serve, they won’t look for excuses to get out of serving. Their passion may be driven by their talent, their spiritual gift, their experiences in life, their abilities. If I’m passionate about doing something I can’t wait to do it. When I’m passionate about my place of serving I find fulfillment in serving.

Provide Opportunity to Test Drive
Many times I find that people aren’t sure where they want to serve. Give members opportunity to test drive a ministry. One Sunday of serving may be enough to know that this is what they were made for. It may take a few weeks of trying out a ministry to discover whether or not they will enjoy serving on that ministry team. I would rather someone try it out for a few weeks and decide that the ministry wasn’t a fit for them then to have them go several months serving and being miserable before they finally quit. Once someone serves for an extended period of time and then they quit because it wasn’t a fit they are less likely to dive into another place of serving.

Equip them to Serve
If I’m serving I need to know what is expected, what I’m supposed to do. A job description is a great way to help someone know what they are supposed to do. Some ministries are pretty much on the job training but the more information and direction you can give the more helpful it will be for the person serving. When someone is given a task, a ministry position, and they are equipped and trained they are less likely to become frustrated in serving. Frustration leads to a desire to no longer serve.

Our church expects our partners (members) to serve. We know this when we become a partner in the church. We took a class that explains who our church is and what is expected. Among those expectations is we are expected to use the gifts God has given us to encourage and build up the body of Christ.

I believe that we will see more ministry happen in our churches if we work on putting the round pegs in the round holes and the square pegs in the square holes. We will be more successful in helping our members grow if they are serving in a ministry that God has designed them for. Joy in serving will bring about longevity in serving.

Help your ministry help volunteers discover joy in serving.  More details HERE