"I can't imagine anything more enjoyable than being with a group of friends to work at expanding God's kingdom while at the same time laughing, telling stories, and experiencing life together."
We are all children at heart, aren't we? I mean, anytime someone says, "Sign up for the hayride" or "Attend a leadership conference" or "Come work in the nursery," one of our first questions is always "Who else is going?" We don't want to commit, contribute, or invest our time until we have the answer to "Who else?" Why? Because we all want to hang around people we like.
My introduction to ministry began as an eighth-grader. Darrell, Becky, Pennie, Jana, and I were responsible for Bus 2 at our church. Every Saturday we would drive the streets of inner-city Des Moines for five hours and visit every child on our bus route. We would shower them with love and remind them that we would pick them up for church on Sunday morning. Then when Sunday came, we would pack the bus with seventy or eighty kids and take them to church. We would sing songs and tell stories all the way there and spend time listening and loving on the way home.
I loved it! Was it because I had an affinity with the kids? Partially. Was it because we were sharing the gospel message with kids who hadn't heard it? That was pretty cool. But mostly I just loved living life with my friends while making a difference in our world. We laughed, told stories, argued, prayed, challenged one another, and wept together. And when, after a few years, Becky was killed in a car accident, we became even closer. Two days after her death, we visited each child to share the news and give each one a hug. We were determined to carry on Becky's ministry.
Those relationships changed my life. They made me a better person. They planted within me a desire to have an impact on my world. They convinced me that life has purpose and meaning when we are experiencing it with people we love.
Relationships change lives. As a church leader, you must believe this. You must believe to your core that people who are in relationships with other in your church are more likely to grow. They are more likely to invite their friends to church. They are more likely to share their faith and give their time and invest their money. Relationships change lives!
If you truly believe this, it will affect the way you do church. It will influence your priorities! It will alter how you preach and what you say. It will also change the way you invite people into ministry. Remember, you are not asking them to fill a spot. You are not asking them to do a task or complete a job. You are inviting them into life-transforming relationships! You are giving them an opportunity that has the potential to change their lives forever.