How to Serve the Church

There are many different ways to use your skills to serve God, and there are many different ways to use each skill.

To make wise decisions regarding ways in which we may serve the church, it is important to know all the options. One major question to answer is: “How do I want to serve?” Knowing the kinds of things one wants and is able to do is an important first step in finding the ministry that God is calling us to be a part of.

The ways in which God might choose to call us are numerous. In the Bible, God calls people to minister in ways that might seem very strange. He called Hosea to marry a prostitute (Hos. 1:2), and He called Moses to go back into a country from which he had fled years before (Exod. 3:10). It’s important for us to remember that God calls us to do things that won’t necessarily make sense to other people. It may seem as if it’s something that God would be unlikely to call us to do.

It is important to follow God’s leading. It’s also important to listen to the advice of pastors, spiritual leaders, and friends. We must be careful to make sure we are being led by God and not by our own impulses or misguided ideas. However, we must each be the judge of what we feel God is leading us to do—based on our study of Scripture. We must make sure that we are not being led by other people to do things that are not right for us.

There is another reason it’s important to remember that God leads us in mysterious ways. If someone else feels led in a way that is confusing to us, or if there is some particular ministry that seems useless, remember that not everyone will be led in the same ways we are. It is sometimes important to be able to question and attempt to clarify, in a respectful and non-aggressive manner, the callings of our fellow Christians. However, we must, in the end, acknowledge that the callings of other people are between those people and God.

This reading has divided a number of different ministries into three basic groups: (1) ways of serving that help and nourish peoples’ minds; (2) ways of serving that help and nourish peoples’ bodies; and (3) ways of serving that help and nourish peoples’ spirits.

The point is to find which methods of service appeal to you. Each ministry or type of ministry has listed several spiritual gifts and talents that can be associated with that ministry. Note that one need not—and probably won’t—have all the listed talents, and there might be useful talents that aren’t on the list. Again, it’s just a guideline. It’s important to follow where God calls, not what a list said would be the best. “ ‘ “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” ’ ” (Luke 10:27, NIV).

1. Serving to Help the Human Mind

Bible Studies. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, evangelism, knowledge, leadership, or wisdom. Bible studies are an old and widespread Christian tradition. A Bible study group is a group of people who get together to read, discuss, and pray about Scripture. Bible studies can be based on certain topics, like a study of forgiveness in the Bible, or on a certain section of the Bible, such as a study of the book of John. Often other books, such as commentaries and study guides, are incorporated into Bible studies.

Studies of Other Books. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, knowledge, leadership, or wisdom. There are groups that study other books. They are usually books that are specifically spiritual in nature, such as devotionals. Groups might meet to discuss any books, however, depending on the interests and needs of the members. It’s important to make sure, when books other than the Bible are under discussion, that everyone knows what’s being studied and why. That is, if someone feels uncomfortable with a particular book or type of book, he or she should be able to express those concerns openly and be able to opt out of studying that book without creating awkwardness or hard feelings.

Educational Classes. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, leadership, knowledge of teachable skills such as (but not limited to) finances, communication, environmental issues and preserving our planet for Christ, or parenting. Some churches offer classes on parenting, marriage, finances, and anything else that someone wants and is willing to teach. There are many valuable skills that are never taught in the average course of many people’s lives. Offering these classes gives volunteers a chance to minister by teaching important life skills that could improve the lives of others.

Vocational Classes. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, leadership, or knowledge of vocational skills including (but not limited to) accounting, website design, business and marketing skills, computer skills, programming, self-promotion. Vocational classes can give people valuable skills, or particularly relate to mental skills and education, or may be hands-on classes, reviewed below. Workshops can also be offered on such topics as making a résumé or giving a good job interview.

Tutoring and Mentoring. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, leadership, hospitality, evangelism, wisdom, teaching, mercy, scholastic knowledge (such as a knowledge of mathematics, language, science, literature), skill in a particular talent (such as writing, dramatic interpretation, sports, etc.). Some churches and communities offer tutoring and mentoring programs for local children, teenagers, and even college students and adults. This gives volunteers an opportunity to make a real difference in someone’s life. Tutoring programs tend to be centered on helping students with work that is specifically for school. Mentoring programs tend to be centered more on helping people of all ages by providing them with counselors and role models, sometimes in a particular area of life. For example, a writing mentor helps his or her mentees to grow and learn as a writer.

2. Serving to Help the Human Body

Building and Repairing Houses. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of carpentry, interior design, home decorating, service, mission, or administration. There is a need for this in every community in the world. This can take place in many communities, from within the church family to across the world in a foreign country. It offers individuals a chance to do satisfying physical labor that can improve the quality of life for the occupants of the houses, as well as of the neighborhood.

Helping the Hungry. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of administration, mercy, service, hospitality, giving, mission, or evangelism. This is another need that the entire world experiences. Feeding the hungry can consist of anything from volunteering at a food bank, to working with or creating a local co-op to help build up local and sustainable agriculture, to helping construct and distribute Thanksgiving baskets, to going on a mission to a foreign country to help solve problems of global hunger.

Cooking Classes. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of hospitality, administration, teaching, or cooking skills. Teaching cooking classes is a great way to get involved with peoples’ lives by helping them learn to improve their cooking skills and thereby their diet. Often cooking classes feature a particular theme, such as vegetarian cooking, cooking meals on a budget, or how to cook quick, easy meals (often popular in college towns).

Health Classes and Support Groups. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of leadership, teaching, or knowledge of health and biological issues. Most people desire to be healthier. Health classes and support groups provide wonderful opportunities for people who have a passion for helping others to improve their health.

Clothing and Toy Collection/Creation. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of woodcraft, fiber craft, other arts and crafts, or mercy. Community clothes closets, homeless shelters, orphanages, prison ministries, and other projects for families in crisis are often looking for clothing and toys for under-privileged children. People interested in this ministry may donate their time to gathering or making clothing and toys for these charities.

Fundraising Ministry. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of service, administration, hospitality, food preparation and presentation, or marketable skills such as carpentry. Often each group performs its own fundraising. But if some people feel so called, a group may be created that has the purpose of holding fundraisers to raise money for the church, missions, or projects for other groups.

3. Serving to Help the Human Spirit

Prayer Ministry. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of faith, discernment, exhortation, intercession, or wisdom. Prayer groups exist in many forms, but they all share a common ground. They are for people who are led to pray with and for other people. Prayer groups can be groups that meet to pray for the church family, community, and major decisions that occur in the church and community. They can also collect prayers and concerns and pray over those specific items. Sometimes there are groups whose job it is to be available at certain times to pray over anyone who comes to them to be prayed for. Prayer is a powerful gift from God, and it should never be underestimated.

Counseling. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of faith, discernment, exhortation, intercession, or wisdom, developed in the difficult places in the world, where various forms of interpersonal crises are being experienced and overcome, and it’s important that hurt and confusion be addressed and cared for. Professional support is often required, especially in the more challenging situations of this sort—and we shouldn’t be timid about suggesting it. Still, counseling sessions, individual and with a group, under the guidance of a professional, are often an important element of a healthy church. Some people are called especially to care for those who need to talk things out in a safe, uncritical, loving environment.

Music Ministry in Worship. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, musical talents, or the ability to play an instrument or sing. Music can be used in church services. Bands and choirs can lead congregations in praise as well as perform for special music.

Music Ministry as Outreach. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of teaching, musical talents, or the ability to play an instrument or sing. People who play music together develop a rapport with one another that is hard to rival. Playing music can also help relieve tension, sharpen motor skills, and develop healthful mental functions. Some ministries are designed around helping people of all ages learn or re-learn to play an instrument or sing. This gives people a way to praise God creatively, as well as to build community and fellowship.

Visiting Nursing Homes and Shut-ins. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of mercy, exhortation, musical skills, or arts and crafts. This is a segment of the population that is often ignored. This ministry gives people a chance to reach out to those who have a difficult time being part of a regular congregation.

Performance Ministry. People who feel led to this ministry might have the gifts(s) of dramatic interpretation, music, writing, puppets, comedy, public speaking, leadership, or evangelism. Drama groups, puppet troupes, and other performance-based groups are becoming more and more common. These groups can serve within the church congregation, with other congregations, or outside of the church as a form of outreach.

There are many different ministries. No list is complete. These are some ministry ideas, but do not hesitate to find more. Be open to ministry opportunities all the time. If nothing seems quite right, then ask God in prayer to show you what He wants.

This is, of course, only a partial list. But from these examples you can project out to dozens of others.*


* Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.