I have been serving and working with churches for about 34 years. I have been privileged to work side-by-side with thousands of people. Many were paid staff. Some were volunteer staff. The rest were dedicated volunteers, passionate congregants, and well-intended church members. I am so thankful for these people that invested time, energy, and resources.
I am sincere with the above sentiments but need to implore church leaders (especially those not on paid staff) to not check your brains, skills, and expertise at the church door.
Don’t leave your brain at the door
We have witnessed countless situations where astute business people and professionals appear to have turned off their brains when they come to church. I have seen highly successful business people sit back and allow church leaders to make significant missteps that they would not have allowed their company or employees to make. I have seen investors and property owners watch the church budgeting process and never once ask if there's any thought towards long-term Cap X planning.
The root cause of the scenarios listed above could be because of the following reasons:
- Business people and investors are burnt out from work outside the church that they are content sitting idle.
- They don’t want to step on the toes of the church leaders and paid staff (even though the paid staff, in most cases, was never trained to lead these areas of expertise).
- These individuals don’t want to appear to be the “know it all.” Besides, there are other congregants that are also giving of their time, right?
At a surface level — maybe even down deep — I understand all of these reasons. However, I go back to 1 Corinthians 12. This passage is composed of verses that reference spiritual gifts. Specifically, verses 27 and 28 are used in numerous sermons on this topic:
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
Using your gifts
According to a website by Tyndale House, spiritual gifts are not limited. A list of gifts could include the following:
- Being an apostle
- Speaking in tongues
- Teaching (sometimes known as shepherding)
From the above list, the ones I see that are too often ignored by laypeople are administration, knowledge, leadership, and wisdom. Each of these has subsets that we overlook.
S.M.A.R.T. Churches have smart people. And these smart people need to keep their minds, knowledge, skills, experiences, understanding, and wisdom engaged. These smart people need to rally around the paid staff and provide advice and insight. There is no shame in church staff seeking advice and relying on people who have experience. We are better together. Keep your best minds engaged.