How to Motivate Church Members to Serve

Service is undoubtedly a substantial theme in the Bible. And because the Bible lays out how service should be a priority for Christians, churches should strive to encourage followers to serve.

In order to understand how to motivate church members to serve, it’s the church’s responsibility to ensure that appropriate enlistment, training and communication opportunities are available when service events arise. Otherwise, there could be an organizational breakdown of the church, leading to fewer members participating in service.

Focusing on these organizational features of the church will prove immensely beneficial when prompting members to serve in the community. The issue of how to motivate church members to serve should be a primary concern for church leadership, because when a congregation is focused on giving back to the community, Christ’s teachings can be more tangibly carried out.

The Work of Serving Others

The framework for serving others – and motivating church members to serve – can be located in the Bible. While there are several examples of good stewardship and service to others in the Old Testament, Christ is the ultimate servant and should be viewed as the model for encouraging the congregation to participate in the community:

Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28

In the image of Christ, we as Christians are expected to help at-risk, vulnerable populations just as He did. In another passage from the Bible, He lays out this logic:

When He had washed their feet and put on His outer garments and resumed His place, He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
John 13:12-14

Serving others should be within the fabric of the church because it’s such a core aspect of Christianity. Do that and everything else should follow suit. For some churches, this sentiment may be easier in theory than in practice. At the same time, the first step of centralizing the model of Christ as the example of service in sermons, church / bible study and in distributed church materials is necessary to establish a foundation on which your members can enthusiastically begin to serve their community.

Ideas on How to Motivate Church Members to Serve

After you’ve given time and attention to focusing the direction of your church materials toward service, it’s time to plan how best to reach your church members. When it comes to motivating others to serve in your community, the approach can be a simple two-pronged process:

  • Showing members detailed service materials (visual aids, testimonials, etc.)
  • Engaging with members in productive conversation where their needs are made clear

To properly introduce members of the church, visual aids can prove monumentally important. Depending on your church’s technological capabilities, it could be helpful to rely on videos in church services to illustrate the impact volunteers – at a local, national or global level – are making. As you showcase the difference they’re making in these different capacities, you’ll also highlight the unique/inspirational stories of specific volunteers/recipients. For example, you could shine a light on the story of a volunteer that has been serving in a ministry for a number of years. You could then follow up that focus by demonstrating how a high school student’s life has been transformed through the ministry because of this experienced volunteer’s model.

At the same time, if your church doesn’t have the video creating and editing capabilities necessary for a project like that, there are countless videos available today that both tell the stories of dedicated volunteers and display the importance of service.

The next step is monumentally important in understanding how to motivate church members to serve. In the discussion stage, you will be able to ask your church members questions that will directly benefit their service engagement later. These conversations can happen in a number of different ways across a number of different mediums / channels. To name only a few, you can employ emails, social media posts, newsletter prompts and forms people fill out in service to prompt your members to open up about their experiences and impressions of service.

You can also reach out to church members personally (as a pastor, lay leader, etc.). For instance, as a pastor, you have the incredible fortune and responsibility of getting to know people and their gifts. As a result, you’ll be able to recommend they get involved in some particular ministry in need. Depending on the size of your church, this tactic may prove more difficult than reaching out digitally. One way to address this challenge is to promote volunteer leaders who can make themselves available after service in order to talk to people who might be interested in serving.

Making Service Part of the Church

At this point, after you have altered the focus of your church service to centralize service and engaged with your congregation, it’s time to enter the most critical stage of weaving service into the fabric of the church. In this light, a new focus on service can bring about a major cultural shift that will only benefit the church. Again, to achieve this goal, it’s vital that you demonstrate the biblical support for service and the impact service can have on people. In other words, service must be woven into the fabric of the church.

Integrate it into as many aspects of the church, its communications and its identity as possible. Even make it a theme of sermons once or twice a year; the pastor can couple their supporting biblical evidence with videos and other ways to showcase how service impacts the church locally.

Understanding the nuances of how to motivate church members to serve can be overwhelming and, at times, exhausting. One of the best ways to adopt the best strategies to motivate others to serve is to learn about them in the classroom. An online Master of Theology will help you focus your energy toward the right areas of the church to ensure more members meaningfully engage in the act of service.

Additionally, we encourage church leaders (across pastors and ministry leaders) as well as lay leaders (e.g., small group leaders who may be in a different career) to get their master’s in theology in order to guide your community most effectively. At Campbellsville University, you will have access to an affordable Christian education with the flexibility and convenience that the online classroom brings. Learn more about the program today and begin the path toward motivating your church to serve.