Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Hello Friends: 6.28.12- Think Seasonal in Serving

Hello Friends,

Last week I began writing to you about SEASONS. Two particular areas in the local church are deeply affected by seasons are small groups and serving.

Go back and review last week’s HELLO FRIENDS to see what I said about Small Groups because now I want to focus on Serving and something I call SAP.

SAP is an acronym for Servants Always Playing. 

Imagine the church like that of a sports team.  When an athlete plays too many consecutive minutes she or he is prone to wear out and be of no value to the team. A good coach will make bench substitutions, not always because the player is ineffective, but rather because the player indeed IS EFFECTIVE and the good coach wants to preserve that effectiveness for a long time. Often a player will say, “I’m fine coach, keep me in!” To do so may give the team short-term enhancements, but it will come at a steep cost. Currently, in the NBA playoffs, MVP forward Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma Thunder will spend a measured time on the bench because his coach understands the SAP principle (or a variation thereof). He needs Durant to be fresh when it matters most, and to have him playing all the time would be not only poor coaching but a poor use of his valuable resources.  One may assume that Durant is Oklahoma’s only valuable resource but that would be an oversight. Yes, he is important to the team, but a good coach also knows that there are others on the bench that may become the next “Kevin Durant” if given the right opportunities.

Catch this:  to bring in people from the bench is not only an effort in preserving the strength of current players, but also a venture in promoting the gifts and abilities of others.

Serving is a huge area that the church so often contributes to SAP. We all know that the church needs people to get the work done. Without the right quality and quantity of servants the church struggles to provide adequate programing to meet the needs of the congregation and community.  This creates a real tension. Thus, our propensity is two fold:

1.  To drop the bar of quality in order to get more people serving.

2.  To raise the bar of time investment for current servants in order to maximize their contribution.

From a short-term perspective this is good.

From a long-term perspective this is really, really bad.

Nothing will erode the health of an organization like poorly equipped people filling holes…except this…having great people do what they do best for too long and thus burning out.

I love that our serving opportunities are seasonal. Seasonal serving opportunities provides two things:

1.  Creative Diversity
I think most people want creative diversity.  Let me add to that:  Most people want creative diversity with consistency.

To just have diversity can lead to chaos and confusion. To just have consistency can lead to boredom.  We need both.

Do people work on assembly lines because of the diversity?  No, but it is certain consistent, to say the least. Serving in our churches should never feel like an assembly line, in which a person does the same thing over and over forever. We have to consider the natural desire in mankind for variety.  We think seasonally…we change things up. We encourage you to take breaks and try other ministries for awhile.

2.  Clear Durations
I think most people want clear durations. Let me add to that:  Most people want clear durations with community.

They want to be a part of something worthwhile and get to know others in the context of community, without starting a commune with them! Perhaps our serving teams need to break up and make room for others to join. Like a girl said to me once, “I just want to be friends and was just kinda hoping we could see other people.”  Ouch.  That hurt, but she was right. We could be friends AND there were other people on the planet.  Some of our serving teams need to “break up” and see other people!

Unfortunately, our servants often experience SAP…so, here is one cure:  SIT (Seasonally Intentional Timeouts).

Giving our servants intentional timeouts during each season is vital. We should schedule with them strategic times for them NOT to be scheduled. These times are for recharging, refreshing and reconnecting with others. People can be put on the bench, not because of poor performance, but rather, so that they can be effective for the long haul!

Consider the sport of running.  Some people are built to go long distances in marathons.  But, I would contend, the majority of people are NOT. Marathons require a great deal of practice and endurance. They are not impossible, but it is improbable that the majority of people can and will do them.

What about short sprints?  Now, that’s more like it.  If people had to choose between a marathon and sprints, I have a feeling most would chose sprints. Run for a short duration of time then rest. Run then Rest. Run then Rest.

This is the model we at West Salem Foursquare like. We want to give LOTS of people the opportunity to serve. That means that people will need Seasonally Intentional Timeouts to make room for others to come off of the bench and get into the game!

Let’s do this together!

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