Discover the Heart of Your Ministry: Identify Motivations

As anyone involved in ministry knows, ministry service is hard work. With all the hours involved in ministry scheduling and investing in the church, it doesn’t take long before you lose sight of why you started serving in the first place. Do you know why you serve? Do you know what inspires your volunteers? If you haven’t taken time to uncover the spirit behind your ministries, do so now and create an atmosphere that fosters a healthy environment for service.

Identify the Churchwide Motivation

People serve for a myriad of reasons, but it’s important to identify the predominant message surrounding service at your church. Being cognizant of the high-level message will allow you to uncover what is and isn’t resonating with volunteers. Here are a few examples of what volunteers might hear — directly or indirectly:

Ministry can enrich your life.
You’re obligated to help.
Let’s learn and grow together.
We’re desperate for help.
Your knowledge and experience are valuable.

If you’re unsure of the message your volunteers are hearing from leadership within the context of serving, ask them. Is it healthy? Is it empowering? Have an open and honest conversation about what motivates volunteers to serve. Find out what makes them want to run and hide, such as guilting or embarrassing recruiting techniques. Share your findings with leadership to ensure that your church message regarding service is encouraging and inviting.

Identify Volunteers’ Motivations

Finding out what drives your volunteers, could be the key to better engaging them. While common reasons for serving include a desire to give back or show gratitude, there are many other reasons for serving, such as the following:

Learning
Some may choose to serve so they can learn and grow personally. They may want to learn more about the doctrines of the church, the practical day-to-day operations of the church, or perhaps gain some job skills while investing in their community of faith. What’s more, some of your ministry volunteers may be exploring vocational ministry and see volunteering in the church as a first step to reaching that end. If learning is a motivation you uncover among volunteers, consider creating learning moments during service or directing volunteer activities to intentionally build useful skills.

Community
It’s no secret that many volunteers invest their time and energy into service to weave themselves into a community. If you discover that this is a strong motivation for the volunteers in your ministry, consider creating opportunities for volunteers to connect even more. Anything from get-togethers to prayer groups to group-signed birthday cards foster a feeling of connectedness and will help strengthen your ministry.

Investment
Many volunteers enter their volunteer service with years of experience behind them. Naturally, they may see ministry volunteering as an opportunity to invest their knowledge and skills into their faith community. If you find that this is a motivation among your church’s volunteers, ensure that the work they’re doing aligns with their skills and interests. What’s more, take care to listen to their feedback and ideas so that they don’t feel undervalue and the church receives the full benefit of their expertise.

Identify Personal Motivations

Beyond just learning what the message is at your church, it’s important to look introspectively at why you serve in ministry. If you feel burned out, resentful, or frustrated, it’s likely your volunteers will sense this from you. Worse yet, it and may even create a domino effect. But if you’re closely connected to the “why” of your service, it’s likely that your energy will have a spillover effect as well.

If you’ve lost sight of why you started, pause to rediscover your reasons for service. Perhaps it was a moment, an opportunity, an encouraging word, a tenant of your faith, or a specific passage that led you to service. Whatever the motivation, ensure your reasons for serving are aligned with your values and goals so that — despite the inevitable challenges that will arise — serving enriches your life.

If you find that you’ve strayed too far from your original ministry purpose, consider delegating some tasks that cause burnout or shifting roles altogether. Talk with a church leader about how you could best reconnect with your passion for ministry and take actionable steps to move in that direction.

In Conclusion

While ministry service can be challenging, it should be equally rewarding. Make sure you know the heart of your ministry by uncovering churchwide, ministry volunteers', and personal motivations. Create opportunities and paths that move everyone in a direction of rich, rewarding experiences of serving in the church.