Christians are called to serve. Every believer “has received a (spiritual) gift” and we should use that gift “to serve one another” (1 Peter 4:10). Our service should be done out of love (Galatians 5:13) and with fervency (Romans 12:11). In doing so, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus who “came not be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
The question then arises, where should I serve in the church? How should I use my gifts to build up the body of Christ? It’s a great question, one all believers should ask and seek to answer. If you’re trying to discern your place of service in the church, allow me to suggest seven things for your consideration. My prayer is that these suggestions will help you answer this question.
- Look to meet existing needs. Some Christians sit idle for a number of reasons. The church doesn’t have a ministry that is geared towards their passions. No one has specifically asked them to serve. Or they haven’t felt a “prompting” from the Lord. Yet, each week announcements are made that children’s workers are needed. The nursery is under served. The welcome team needs ushers and door greeters. These areas may not be your passions, but the church needs volunteers. Step into these roles and help. Think about it this way. Imagine your kids need to be fed. But you’re not passionate about doing that. God hasn’t “gifted” you to cook. What would you do? You would feed the kids! Why? Because it must be done. Sometimes in the church, we just need to fill roles and do jobs because that’s what’s needed.
- Lean into your passions. Oftentimes, your spiritual gift corresponds to your passions. For example, I love to preach and lead. Turns out, God has gifted me to do these things. If you love to open your home and cook meals, maybe you should host a small group. If you love to serve the lowly, perhaps you should invest your time in a recovery or homeless ministry. My wife loves to give gifts. So, three times a year she organizes gift giving for our foster care families. Think about what you love to do and go do it!
- Look for ministries that need to exist. Sometimes your area of service doesn’t exist yet. When my church hired me, I was tasked with the responsibility of starting a jail and recovery ministry. These were two ministries our community needed but our church didn’t have them. Look around at the needs in your community and/or church. Are there ministries that could be started to serve a certain demographic? Maybe that’s where God is calling you to serve. But before you do that, let me say this: don’t go to your pastor and say, “We need a jail ministry.” Do your homework first. Count the cost and determine what it will take to start such a ministry. Then, when you have some details and a strategy to start and execute such a ministry, go to your pastor and tell him your plans. The last thing you want to do is place a burden on leadership without any thought about how to lead moving forward.
- Do the normal work of discipleship. A lot of Christians, when looking for a place to serve in the church, look for titles, positions, or committees. This is not necessarily wrong, but you don’t need a specific ministry title to serve your church. In fact, arguably the best way you could serve your church is by discipling other believers. Find time to meet with another Christian to read the Bible, pray, and hold one another accountable. What better way is there to serve the body of Christ than by building up other believers?
- Find ways to encourage and serve your pastor. Pastors are easily discouraged, overworked and in need of encouragement. Pray for your pastor. Find ways to make his job a joy (Hebrews 13:17). Invite a new person to church and make sure your pastor knows about it. The healthier your pastor is, the better your church will be.
- Visit the elderly. Older members love to spend time with younger people. Go to their homes. Invite them to yours. Share a meal and listen to their stories. Cross-generational ministry makes a church healthy and strong.
- Pray. It’s tempting to seek a position that others will see. Afterall, we don’t want to be known as a church member who doesn’t serve. But one of the most effective ways you can serve your church is through prayer. Pray for your leaders. Pray for other members. Pray during your pastor’s sermon and for other ministries. Give yourself to prayer.
At the end of the day, don’t make this more complicated than it should be. Serving others in the name of Christ is about love and meeting real needs. Think about Jesus’ ministry. He came to demonstrate the love of God primarily through His sacrificial death upon the cross. His goal was to glorify His Father and reconcile sinners to Himself. Your acts of service should serve that same purpose.
This article originally appeared at Knowing Jesus Ministries