Article by Teresa Chang
Our church leaders have developed a well-established culture of servanthood in our home church. New members and newly baptized believers all learn about having a servant heart in their membership class, and are encouraged and given the opportunity to serve in various ministries. Our children are taught to serve in Sunday school, serving snacks to one another and helping collect the used communion cups during communion. Servanthood is a core value of our church and is built into the lifestyle of all of our members.
Whatever values you embrace as a church will gradually become a way of life for you. You’ll notice that a set of practices begins to emerge that reflects the things your church does naturally. The people don’t do these things because they are told to do them or even because you have programs set up to help them do them. Instead, they do them because these are elements deeply entrenched in their hearts as a community.
How to Build a Lifestyle of Servanthood in Your Church
1. Model your vision for servanthood.
What is your vision for servanthood? At its core, true servanthood means having a heart that mirrors the heart of God. We love and serve one another because He does these things. Jesus said, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master” (Matthew 10:25).
Make servanthood personal. Incorporate it deeply into your own life, and build it into your family’s lifestyle. Remember, everything you want to bring to your church has to be real inside of you before you can replicate it in others.
2. Identify and remove challenges.
As a church leader, how do you “prove” the values of your church? By realizing where your priorities lie. You reveal your priorities in how you allocate time, energy, money and talent. You naturally distribute your resources in order of preference and importance. If a church says, “We really value community,” but their calendar does not reflect that value, they have other priorities that are stronger. They believe community is a priority to them and want it to be a priority, but it really isn’t a priority.
Examine your values and priorities. What do you truly value? Are you giving your best for the purposes God created for you? Are you doing so in a balanced way that is sustainable over the long haul?
As a church leader, does anything need to be adjusted in your life or in your church? Begin to make those adjustments.
3. Spread the vision through your church.
Preach on building a lifestyle of servanthood, and encourage people to take note of those who are trying to live as Jesus would, with a serving heart.
Help people build servanthood into their lifestyles by offering volunteer opportunities in areas of servanthood and leadership. No matter your church’s size or background, every congregation has a wide spectrum for service: elders, worship leaders, greeters and ushers, janitors and other cleaners, parking attendants, nursery and children’s church ministers, etc.
You could even build volunteering into your church membership structure. For instance, you could encourage new members to fill a servant role within the church for six months. Not only would this help to undergird the church, but it would also help your members learn about servanthood and build it naturally as a lifestyle. Celebrate acts of service in your church, both the “large” acts and those that seem simple and basic.