Archive for the ‘Abilities’ Category

Most people who know me would have opinions on what my biggest challenge is.  Let me reveal it now so you can focus on this post. It’s me. My biggest challenge has always been, and will always be, me. Focusing on what God has called me to every moment or – as our Pastor has said hundreds of times – “doing the next right thing” will always be my biggest challenge.

On to my second biggest challenge:  Rarely – well, on occasion…truth be told, nearly every week I vent (refer back to paragraph one) to my wife about something involving volunteerism or volunteers. I’ll express concern to her about a volunteer just not getting it when it comes to a ministry or responsibility. Relax – if you’re taking the time to read this, it’s not you.

Claudia’s default response to me of late has been “Kim, they’re volunteers.” That phrase woke me up at 2:33 a.m. recently. What I remember waking to was a teaching around here that I’ve heard more than a hundred times:  “Excellence Matters to God.”

When I bottom-line Claudia’s response, I get what she’s saying…I’m the staff person, I get paid and volunteers don’t. Part of me gets that. About five percent of me. It’s in the 95% where my second biggest challenge lies: helping volunteers who follow Christ understand that they are equally as vested in the mission, vision and values as any staff member.

I’m not talking about equal hours invested in ministry. I’m speaking in terms of stewardship – the stewardship of our available time, focused with excellence to serve for the cause of Christ. Excellence in our ministries matters to God whether individuals are paid or not. Giving our best, as if it matters to the cause of Christ (because it does), will change our entire perspective of how we prepare, present and perform our ministry.

Our volunteers – your volunteers are on the front line of this battle. It’s only in games like Risk where the “soldiers” on the map have no influence on the outcome of the mission.

It doesn’t matter the ministry. If we fail to internalize and live out that what we’re participating in has the potential to impact a life for the Kingdom, then we’ll never give it our all. (As a side note, if it doesn’t have the potential to impact a life, cancel it.)

I pray for our leaders to get this, I pray for them to challenge their team members to leave nothing at their “post” when they leave, to fully engage themselves in the ministry at hand, to be focused and intentionally seeking out how God will use them in the next moment to help others take a step towards Christ.

Man, if I could get this solved I’d get more sleep.

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Often times when I think of a volunteer Rockstar, I’ve tended to stereotype the requirements or limit them to the amount of “time-served.”  Although that’s an impressive way to grab the attention of any ministry leader, it’s not the sole measurement.

There is one Rockstar you won’t see here on the weekends, serving alongside the hundreds of other volunteers that make a typical weekend run so smooth. And you won’t see him during the week, serving with our ministry outreach teams across the communities or the world. You won’t even recognize this volunteer because his primary serving capacity takes place inside the walls of his business.

I first met Tim Markley in April of 2005 when his name came to me as someone interested in helping with “graphics.”  Having no clue what he meant by that, I called and found out that his business was graphics-centered.  After a long conversation, I grabbed a few staff members and took a tour of his business.

I remember the feeling of awe when he told us “whatever you want, just let me know.”  That was the beginning of a new look for our church.

Be honest for a moment … haven’t you known someone who thought, “I wonder how much “that” church pays for all those series promotional posters?  I’ve enclosed a few to remind you of how long this has been going on.

That” church – our church – is being blessed nearly every week or series since 2005 with the generosity of Tim’s graphics company.  Not only does Tim’s company print these dynamic, eye-catching gems, but he or a member of his team delivers the finished graphics to the Granger site.

These are ginormous scenes require a great deal of preparation, management and a commitment to excellence that Tim has overseen. I would venture to guess that his incredible gift through the years has reached into the thousands of dollars.  Now, as you may remember I’m not good at math, so let’s just agree that whatever the gift, it’s been amazing.

The amount of the gifting has never been a concern of Tim’s.  He loves the church and its mission, vision and values so much that he’s doing what he’s been blessed to do to help reach people for Christ.

I wish I could post my favorite 50 pictures of Tim’s work over the years but I’ll just conclude by saying this: If it’s been displayed as a poster board or vinyl on our campus, it’s probably because of Tim Markley and his gifting to the church.

Thank you Tim.  You’re a Rockstar in the eyes of the few who know you and now that you’ve been exposed, may others celebrate in the gift of your ministry to us.

Photos: Jeff Petersen

#4 “I tried it once and it didn’t work out.”

That’s normal and we can fix that. Really. Unless you understand some basic principals of Rick Warren’s work revolving around the acronym SHAPE, you might just miss your calling a couple of times before you hit your sweet spot. Discovering your unique SHAPE (Spiritual gifting’s, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences) will go a long way in helping you discover opportunities that don’t feel like you’re going to the dentist office every time your weekend to serve arrives. Serving doesn’t have to hurt to matter – but to those who are hurting, your serving matters. Whether helping to serve inside or outside the “box,” there are opportunities where we make a difference in the lives of others that will actually bring joy to our often self-centered lives. If at first you don’t succeed … but this time, bring a little SHAPE to the mix.

#5 “I don’t know what I want to do” (So you’ll keep doing nothing?)

Here’s what’s simple: If you’re not sure where to start, you might look into #4 and then be determined to “just say yes.” Here’s what’s difficult: It’s kind of just the reverse of breaking a bad habit.  In this case, you know you should do something but the gap between your head and heart is often filled with competing emotions of good intentions, distractions and deterrents. Speaking of which, it’s somewhat like a quote Oprah reportedly said in the news this week. It’s actually really meaningful: “People don’t change because of what they know but because of what they feel.” Profound. Let’s stop there. My hope in calling out all of these excuses is this: Christ Followers move from what they THINK in their heads is the right thing to deciding in their heart that it’s time to DO the right thing.

#6 “Everything’s under control” (I don’t think I’m needed)

Look around you – you’re kidding, right?! For the sake of argument, let’s just say that every ministry is fully staffed with volunteers and your church appears to be “under control” (pause for breath and reflection). What about outside the church “box?” What about the workplace where you might be a light in a dark world? What about the hurt you could bring relief to at your local shelter? Your community doesn’t have those problem areas? Well, I guess you’re not needed then. Which brings me to my second point: This entire serving thing (although sounding counter-intuitive) is about you! Why? Because you need to be in relationships. You need to be part of something outside of yourself. You need to feel the joy of giving. You need someone to tell you “thanks.” You need to know you’ve made a difference. You need to express your giftedness – to serve and do good works in this world because you (all of us) were made by God to do so. It’s that whole “salt and light” thing.  (Matt.5:13-16)

More excuses coming soon. I’m 56; I’ve heard many.

After nine months in my “new” position as Director of Volunteer Involvement at GCC, I’m convinced more than ever of the effectiveness of two key teachings that have been around our church for many years. Maybe you haven’t heard of them or, possibly, you have but weren’t aware of the implications as to how they could rock your ministry.

I’m referring to the “Shoulder Tap” and the “90-Second Ask.” Before you shut down and think, “I’ve heard this teaching before,” I’m asking you to consider examining each of these with a renewed passion. They are truly the most effective ways we can invite our circle of friends into life-changing environments.

Each approach has been well documented by two of our lead pastors, Tim Stevens and Mark Waltz. I’ve included a full explanation of each in two documents that can be read here and here.  Each document is two pages long and, while I encourage you to read them both, you can continue reading here for the Reader’s Digest version.

The “Shoulder Tap” simply acknowledges the fact that our friends and acquaintances – inside or outside the church – are more likely to make a decision to cross the line and become “involved” because that invitation has come from someone they know. What our friends don’t realize is that we’re inviting them into a community that is not only about serving, but also about being part of a team. More importantly, you’re inviting them into an experience where all of the benefits described in the previous 10 posts are lived out.

“The 90-Second Ask” acknowledges three steps of simple teaching that every ministry leader and team member can apply. The first step tells us to affirm what we see in your friends – and who doesn’t want to be affirmed! The second step involves opening the door to honestly state, “Because of the way I see you (friend’s name), I think you’d be in your element volunteering in (volunteer hot spot).” The third step cements “the ask”; now you get to tell your own story on how volunteering in an area of your giftedness has made an impact on your life. We all have stories of how our life is better because of our ministry and the relationships we’ve built through them. Maybe it’s the encouragement or acknowledgement from others – the point is, share it! It brings you encouragement while encouraging others.

Again, these documents are 5 minute reads and have the potential to not only change your teams, but to make an impact on the life of someone who’s yet to realize two key elements of every team: Your friend can make a positive impact on another as they decide to give of themselves AND at the same time, begin to have people build into them the very things I pray you’ve experienced as a team member.