Deep Imprints

Your Workplace is your Ministry

Strengths-Based Ministry

This morning, I was reading my Strengths-Based newsletter from Gallup, and a concept struck me. Here is the activating sentence:

Of the millions of employees Gallup has surveyed, just over half have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them when they show up to work every day.

So, we know that people operate best when they are operating out of their strengths.  We have people in the church from every strength. But do we show them how to minister in their strengths, or do we (by action, probably not so much word) make certain strengths ‘ministry material’ while leaving those without certain strengths feeling incapable and unusable?

I once knew a lady who sold cosmetics. She also had a natural talent for inviting strangers. Her pastor acknowledged her ministry, and helped people around her build a welcoming team for the many she brought into the church. This was a huge thing, because these people didn’t always smell pretty, and they certainly didn’t come from a church paradigm, so for a person with the gift of inviting, having a place to bring people that would be accepting and affirming was a huge boost to her ministry. (Truth, I don’t know if the pastor was intentional in building the team, or if she was just great at putting things together and walking in favor.)

There are people in our congregations who have natural strengths. Do we make them think they can only serve God, or operate in ministry if they can serve (greet, cut grass, etc.), teach Sunday school, or serve communion?

Are we helping people figure out how to be a minister at 2pm on Thursday as easily as we explain the “ministry path” for Sunday and Wednesday?


  1. My dad and I just had this conversation in reverse: sometimes people training outside the church and capable leaders are “only allowed” to do non-threating tasks assigned by pastors or the board. (We were talking about a church where the pastor shut down one music group after another if they looked “successful” and only allows worship teams he sanctions – untrained musicians, while those with experience and training sit in the pews.) Sigh.

    I think it’s a both-way empowerment by pastor-teachers called to release members to ministry. The church needs to affirm the gifting and calling of its members in the community of faith and secular opportunities.

    • Kim

      10/03 at

      Excellent! And you are so right! Thanks! Note my next post on power…very much along these lines.

    • I have seen this so often. And, experienced more times than I can count. I have ministerial degree, over 20 years of experience in a variety of settings, including the military, non-profits, churches, and corporate. I am almost done with a Master’s in Educational Leadership – and cannot find a place to lead, minister, or even connect in my church. There doesn’t seem to be a place for a single, divorced mom of my age. Especially, one who comes out of another church experience. And, this has been true for every church I have attended forever. If I wanted to work in the nursery, sing on a worship team, make coffee or hand out bulletins there would be a place for me. Those things are not my calling – so where do I fit?

      How many talented people is the church turning off or turning away because they can’t get past their own ideas of what “leadership” looks like? And, I wonder, is it fear or is it ignorance that makes their world view so small?

      • Kim

        14/03 at

        The Resignation of Eve was about this very point as it relates to women, but I have been pondering lately if our 20/80 problem has more to do with our description and validation of certain “ministries” over others. When the purpose is to build the church (inwardly), then only 20% can fit into the ministry model. What if we reversed our focus of ministry, and made those who minister every day at a secular job those we were supporting – would we invalidate the Sunday school workers, or would we bring value to all of our lives?

        • I was thinking about this very thing today while watching a video on “M”. I agree that the 80% should be the focus and that each believers life should be characterized by ministry within their realm of influence. The video today said that church leadership is missing out by not recruiting and utilizing their membership at each individuals point of strength. There tends to be a prescribed rite of passage for each new member that they seem to have to walk through before they get a chance to minister in their chosen field or area of passion. How much better and more engaging would our product be if we actually let artists create art, musicians create music, CFO’s do our budgeting, and so on so forth? Instead everyone seems to have to go the coffee, greeter, usher, nursery route before they get the chance to do in the church what they do everyday. Furthermore, if the CFO is involved doing what she does everyday in our church body how might that impact the way she does her job Monday through Friday? Integrating people into the church at their point of strength will cause them to better integrate the church into their daily lives.

          • Kim

            02/05 at

            Preach it! I think we need to realize that we are an empowerment vehicle.

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