By Mark Roach
If I were being perfectly honest, one of the most effective elements in our entire ministry is a simple cup of coffee. No, I’m not urging the use of caffeine, endorsing any global warm beverage franchises and I’m not even encouraging evangelizing or networking in your local coffee shop circles. What I’m referring to is a simple cup of coffee that I personally have with EVERY single volunteer that joins our weekend ministry. And while it’s true that, albeit a small gesture, just buying a cup of coffee for a new volunteer feels good to them, even the gesture isn’t the most important part of this slice of ministry magic. It’s the words. It’s what we talk about over that cup of coffee that makes such a huge difference in our ministry.
The first thing I do once we’ve sat down and started to enjoy our beverages is pray. This communicates clearly to every single person entering our ministry the importance of prayer in what we do. I actually pray that through our brief time together God will reveal to us whether or not He’d have us partner with one other in ministry. After the prayer, I tend to open with a simple question: Why do want to be part of this ministry? It’s very important that there is a spiritual component to their answer, and if there isn’t, I gently make sure they are aware that our very DNA is wrapped up in using our talents to glorify God. Those who aren’t in it for that reason can certainly feel a bit uncomfortable at that point, and I’m OK with that. We are, after all, kinda interviewing each other for ministry at this point.
I begin to move into a clear discussion about our mission and vision. By the way, if your individual ministry doesn’t have clear mission and vision statements that ladder up to your church’s mission and vision, I highly recommend you prayerfully create them. I tell them why I do what I do. I tell them how vitally important the role of worship is to the health of the church. I articulate our values…values like integrity, growth (spiritual and artistic), flexibility and authenticity. I’m able to explain why ‘no call, no shows’ are absolutely devastating to our ministry. I’m able to encourage their positive, edifying behavior on social networking because their context is about to change. I’m able to ask—ahead of time—if they are comfortable with the detailed expectations involved in our weekend Arts Ministries, so a) they know exactly what they’re getting into and b) I can hold them accountable to these expectations later if necessary. I usually end the conversation by exposing some of my own flaws as a leader because I’m human and I know they may very well see some of the manifestations of those as they continue to serve. Then I underscore the vital role of communication in ministry. I implore them to come to me any time, under any circumstances if participation in our ministry has resulted in any ugly feelings.
Now, I know this seems like an awful lot of time and energy, these individual encounters. I could write paragraphs on the upside I have experienced over the years, though, and I truly believe the payoff is tenfold. It is my opinion that, more important than our worship style, how well we sing, songs we select or how many volunteers we have is the servant-hearted DNA of our ministry. I believe that in many ways, that DNA has been formed one cup of coffee at a time.
Mark Roach is the Worship Arts Director at Morning Star United Methodist Church in O’Fallon. If you have questions for Mark, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.