Article by Teresa Chang
As a small church, many of our church leaders are called upon to serve in multiple roles to sustain our church. What is amazing is, I have never heard a single one of them complain or say no. They cheerfully volunteer for whatever needs to be done, whether it is extravagantly decorating the church for VBS, learning to use the sound board to help out during worship, cooking meals for hours for fellowship luncheons or going out to minister to the poor of our city. I truly admire the servant hearts we are blessed with as our leadership.
All ministry boils down to serving God and people with a true servant’s heart. That heart did not begin in us; it began in Jesus. He is the ultimate servant leader. Therefore, our goal as servant leaders is to create a whole congregation of servant leaders who fulfill God’s purposes on the earth.
Remember, culture is the shared values, priorities and practices, along with the traditions, symbols and expressions, that unite a community. Your culture reflects who your church is at a deep level. As you clarify your values, you establish your priorities—things that are more or less important for how you spend your time, energy and resources. Out of your priorities emerge your everyday practices (things you naturally do on a day-to-day basis). Each of these individual “steps” works to establish a culture of servanthood in your church.
Here are a few other things to consider as you build your church culture:
1. As a church leader, personify the culture yourself.
To create a servant culture in your church, discuss with your leadership team the key values that support a servant culture. Model the lifestyle you want to create, and then provide ongoing opportunities for people to serve.
The servant heart needs to be made visible on multiple levels from the core of the church outward. There is no such thing as the high and mighty; we never reach a spiritual level where we are no longer called to serve. The congregation needs to see their church leaders being servants—doing things like picking up the paper in the hallway, cleaning bathrooms, taking meals to sick people, etc. A true culture of servanthood begins at the core and spreads outward. The leadership team—the senior pastor, spouse and core team members—need to model what true service looks like.
2. Infuse that culture into your primary
team and congregation.
Preach about servanthood and talk about how we serve the Lord and one another through our generosity, sacrifice and willingness to commit to others. Some churches have two services on Sunday mornings, and it has little to do with overcrowding; they just want to create more opportunities for volunteers and activate more people to serve. Give people a variety of ways and opportunities to serve.
3. Train your people to dedicate concentrated time to God.
Scripture isn’t clear about what God “requires” from us regarding our time. Jesus said, “I want everything. I want all your time. I want all your energy. I want all your money.” But devoting every minute of the day to pursuing spiritual reality isn’t a sustainable lifestyle, so what are we to do? One possibility is tithing our time.
Just as the principle of tithing our income is not a “law” (an action required for salvation), the idea of tithing your time is not meant to be legalistic or “religious.” It is simply interesting to think about. There are 168 hours in the week, and about 50-60 of those hours are spent sleeping or in personal hygiene, which leaves us 110-112 hours. If you were to “tithe” the remaining time, it would mean committing 10-12 hours a week to serving Jesus in a concentrated way. This works out to be three or four commitments a week that are specifically Kingdom oriented. When you break it down, it really isn’t hard to fill that time slot.