I’ve had the privilege of traveling to more than 100 churches in the past three years as a worship team coach and consultant: mostly small to medium size churches and a few mega churches. Often times I hear frustration that comes from a series of missteps that can be summarized as neglect. Neglect means lack of care. Whether indifference, forgetfulness, or failure of systems, neglect hurts!
Ministry is a people-centric enterprise. Sometimes are so fixated on making Jesus and the unsaved visitor happy that we fail to care for the people and things entrusted closest to us. Here are some common themes that come up.
It’s common. Lack of written expectations, last-minute scheduling, drawers labeled “batteries” with no batteries (when the preacher’s mic just shut down!). When these “every once in a while“ problems become the standard we have created a new norm of neglect. The root word for “administer” comes from the Latin word minister meaning “servant.”
Create a one-page job description for every paid and volunteer role in your church. Keep it updated. This helps your valuable people know if they are “winning”. If you are not the leader and do not have this one sheet, ask for one. Make sure your scheduling systems are predictable (for instance, a text every Monday before noon). Get the song list out on Tuesdays. Set up reminders on your calendar to check supplies.
This one can be very difficult, near impossible, for those in the technical area of ministry in the church. Many of us volunteered in this area to avoid the touchy, feely areas of ministry. That being said, I can guarantee that even the most introverted volunteers and workers feel the pain of lack of care.
Sometimes leaders forget to close the loop on relational hurts. Sometimes people are left out of prayer times, communion, and lunch invitations. Last-minute demands and emergencies without a follow-up “thank you” can cause resentment and pain–this is lack of care! Many tech people secretly resent their leaders and if given the chance can list offenses that have gone left unresolved. Include your sound and media and tech teams into the spiritual aspects of preparation for services. Occasionally recognize your tech teams from the pulpit. If you communicate well, you might get them a standing ovation every once in a while.
Oftentimes ministries that get high relational marks suffer in the gear department. Churches forget that we actually run concert venues! During a recent visit to a mega church, I noted that a whole zone of loudspeakers was not actually making a sound (this covered over 200 chairs!). Often times there are ridiculous workarounds on computers that could be fixed in a few minutes. If you need paper clips, duct tape, and the perfect touch to run basic systems of the church, lack of care has become the new norm.
Make a list of everything that is not currently working and make a plan to repair, replace or remove the item. Schedule maintenance days for your sound system—especially before Easter and Christmas. Dust is the devil. Commit to keeping areas clean of dirt, debris, and clutter.
In short: Don’t neglect tasks, don’t neglect people, and don’t neglect gear. (You can thank me later.)