Over the last ten years of ministry, I’ve found myself repeatedly seeing proof that if we increase the meaningful participation of our people, the likelihood is high that their commitment to local church engagement and the mission of God will increase proportionately. People tend to have a strong desire to belong, and giving them a chance to truly participate fosters belonging and reaps significant benefits in their spiritual journey.
I can remember when my friend Isaac was an ultra common, puny little middle school kid with glasses. Isaac was like most of the other middle school boys — shy, awkward, and trying to navigate his early teenage years.
In everything that he did with our ministry, Isaac almost always found himself near or behind a computer or a camera. Seeing this, we encouraged Isaac to become a part of our tech team and we saw this kid begin to flourish.
Isaac had a knack for technology. He had a passion for excellence. And he was driven to see those two things collide for the kingdom of God. So we fed those things every chance we could and he was all in.
We began to give him more opportunity, more responsibility, and the results were staggering.We began to give him more opportunity, more responsibility, and the results were staggering. Sure there were times I had to pull back the reigns when he wanted to spend a bunch of money, or explain to a parent why there was ‘smoke’ in the room, or coach him through a rude interaction with a worship leader that wanted more of himself in the monitor. But over and over again I saw Isaac do incredible things and his commitment grew.
By the time Isaac graduated high school he had run sound and produced videos for nearly every ministry in our church. He was in high demand for projects among people and organizations in our community. And with opportunities galore, Isaac chose to stay local and attend a technical school so that he could pursue his passion to serve the local church through production.
Just 2 months ago I took Isaac to lunch to encourage him as he prepared the following week to move to Chicago and join the production staff of Harvest Bible Chapel. Isaac has trendier glasses now and has grown about a foot and a half, but as he leaves the place where he grew up he still carries an unwavering commitment to continue serving the local church by producing excellent content that makes Christ known.
Isaac is one of many students that I’ve seen commit their lives to local church engagement by using their gifts to proclaim and participate in the mission of God. For some it’s a career in ministry, for others it’s a fully engaged volunteer role in their local church. But for all it began with a simple opportunity to serve, to meaningfully participate in the church.
When it comes to meaningful participation—start early, coach often, and prepare to one day celebrate sending.
Who in your ministry is waiting for you to invite them to participate? This might just be the thing they need be all in.
Associate Pastor/College & Young Adults
Calvary Baptist Church, Winston Salem, NC