“was getting to serve in Children’s Ministry.” That’s what my daughter said about church this past Sunday. You see my daughter is a freshmen at Liberty University in Lynchburg VA. She doesn’t have a car on campus and so for the most part she has been attending the Campus Church. And while she loves the worship at Campus Church and it has been a great experience, she wanted to find a church off campus where she could serve and get involved.
So she did what most people do when they are in a new area, look for a church. She asked around and looked on the internet. She visited a couple of churches with some people from campus, but they just didn’t seem like a fit. We helped as much as we could from home with the internet search. We found two churches that seemed like possibilities. Lydia emailed both of them to introduce herself and see if they possibly had students from Liberty attending that she could connect with for a ride.
Lydia went to one of those churches this past Sunday. It is a large, contemporary church with great music, a big ministry, and a beautiful building. But she texted me that morning and said, “Felt like home as soon as I saw a clorox wipe.” You see, Lydia went early and observed and served in their Nursery Ministry. She said it was the best part of the day – serving.
Now, obviously, I have the best daughter in the Universe, but I want to make a few quick observations. People are fulfilled through service, make the ask. Sometimes we are so hesitant in recruiting people for ministry, we’re almost scared. At Coastal we have discovered that the best way to recruit new people for ministry is to simply ask them. One fulfilled servant tapping someone on the shoulder, casting the vision of their ministry, and asking them to join them. Bulletins, announcements, slides, sign-up lists, are all nothing more than a support. The real secret is one person asking another person. But the key in making the ask is knowing that you are actually doing them a service – not the other way around. Jesus said that we find our lives by giving our lives away. People are looking for something greater than themselves to invest their lives in.
One more point. The key to keeping students involved in church is getting them involved in ministry. Students are leaving the church in droves today. There are all kinds of alarming statistics that show that as soon as students are on their own, in college or otherwise, they leave the church – even students who were involved in a Youth Group.
The only thing that seems to make a difference? Serving in ministry. Students need to learn early on that they are here to make a contribution, not just consume. And students need to feel that their contribution matters and makes a difference in the church that they serve. And I’m not just talking about “Youth Sundays” when the Youth Group leads worship, passes out the bulletins, takes up the offering, and gives the message on one particular Sunday. I’m talking about where Students serve on teams with adults, are given training, responsibility, and value.
Somebody wiser than me once said that the measure of a healthy church is not just it’s seating capacity, but it’s serving and sending capacity. I pray that we are expanding all three at Coastal.
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