Helping People Serve From Brokenness

Serving From Brokenness

Our recent podcast with Pastor Mark Clark of Village Church in British Columbia inspired this article on engaging people who may feel unqualified for ministry.

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In The Midst Of Struggle We Need To Feel Needed

Serving from brokenness can feel wrong.  When we feel broken in some way, we can believe that we don’t have any value to other people or to God.  Often when people experience some negative life event they may reach out to a few close supporters, but they will tend to isolate from their larger community at a time when a community of support is essential.  From a spiritual standpoint those in the midst of struggle can feel rejected or punished by God.  Isolation allows those thoughts to flourish.  A church family can provide places for broken people to feel that they are a part of God’s plan.

Tapping Unlikely People For Ministry

When looking for people to serve in ministry, it can be easy to look past the person who has experienced some struggle. We can look at the recent widow, the recovering addict, the person in the midst of marital problems, and think we don’t want to add to their burden. Maybe we think they have enough on their plate.  Sometimes that person does need to sit in the bench for a season, but consider God before dismissing that person entirely.

If you only engage the qualified in your ministry, you will be lonely.

God Sees The Qualified Even When We Don’t

Our guest for this week’s LifeSupport Podcast is Mark Clark.  Mark is the lead pastor of Village Church in British Columbia, one of the largest churches in Canada. Mark was an unlikely candidate for the church he planted.  He was raised in a non-believing household, when his parents divorced as a young child, the trauma helped trigger Tourette’s Syndrome, and obsessive compulsive disorder.  I won’t spoil the story (watch the podcast for all the details!) but as Mark was tapped to plant Village Church, his facial ticks, sudden bursts of swearing, and obsessive behaviors were on display for everyone to see, and apparently part of God’s plan to develop Mark as a leader.

It’s so easy to overlook the short kid when picking sides for the basketball team (I was often passed by) but sometimes the short kid, or the kid with Tourette’s is just the person for the job.

But I’m Not Qualified

Sometimes it’s not us who overlooks someone.  If you work in church ministry you’ve probably had someone decline your serving opportunity because “there must be someone who is a better fit.”  Like all growth, spiritual growth requires some challenge.  Don’t be afraid to challenge those who feel unqualified.  Here are a few ways to respond in this circumstance:

  • First, consider that they may be right, even ask them why they believe that they aren’t the right person. They probably know themselves better than you do, so make sure to take their opinion into account.
  • Explain why you think they would be a good fit. This requires that you know them and can honestly describe what it is about them that makes them a good fit.  This is your opportunity to ta about spiritual gifts and offer an assessment if you haven’t.
  • Share a story of when you felt un/under-qualified for something you were asked to do in ministry (hopefully with a happy ending).
  • Enlist the help of another volunteer who felt the same way at one time. In my experience, the opinion of other volunteers often carries more weight than that of a staff member.
  • Use this as a teaching moment and share some examples from scripture of people who were used by God. (I’ve noticed that people like being compared to bible characters).
  • Ask them if they’ve ever learned or been inspired by an unexpected source. If necessary, give them some time to think about this and get back to you. You may fall into a trap with this one so be prepared to offer your own example. 
  • Ask them to at least pray about the idea and get back to you next week (in person, not via email. It’s too easy to say no via email.) Don’t forget to get back to them.  Sometimes the second request to serve will communicate that you were really serious and they’ll give it greater consideration.

Sometimes Their Need To Serve Is Greater Than Your Need For The Right Person

Every day, for nearly two years during my early recovery from alcohol addiction I said this prayer (sometimes, many times a day) “God to show me where can be of service to you today.”  I know that for that two years, and beyond I stayed sober because God answered that prayer by showing me opportunities to serve.  If you look around your church you might see someone like me who is waiting for God to answer this prayer through you.  Someone lonely, or unsure about God, a newcomer, or someone who’s just barely sober.

Be Inspired!

I want to encourage you to watch the LifeSupport Podcast with Mark Clark. There’s a great deal of leadership wisdom in this half hour.  You will be inspired!