Over the last few months I’ve been asked more than once, “How can pastors help women find a biblical place of service in the church?”. And each time I’ve been asked, my heart’s desire to create a resource to help pastors get people serving in the church has increased, which resulted in The Servanthood Survey.
The Servanthood Survey takes church members desiring to serve through a brief study of the Scriptures describing what biblical servanthood is, the value of servanthood to God and to the church, following Jesus’ example and teaching on servanthood, the biblical parameters God has placed on certain roles in the church, and prayerful consideration of how God has designed and equipped the individual for service.
The survey can be used with men or women, and even teens or children desiring to serve their local Body. I envision it being sent home with a church member to work through and pray about, followed up by a meeting with the pastor (or whoever assigns positions of service in your church) to discuss the church member’s responses and potential place of service. But churches could also integrate the survey into their new member classes, create a mini (2-4 weeks?) class around the survey, work through it during midweek services, or whatever works best for that particular church.
The survey itself is also meant to be tweaked for use by each individual church. You may not like the way I worded something or you might like to add something (you’ll see at the end, you’ll need to add a sheet with a list of opportunities for service for your particular church). To that end, I’ve made the survey available as a Google Doc as well as providing the text below so you can copy, paste, and edit it in a way that works for your church.
You may notice that my name and website do not appear on the survey. That’s intentional. This is my gift to you to take, make your own, and use as a tool in your church. (I would ask that you please not credit me or include my website on the document if you modify the theology of the survey.)
I hope you’ll find this to be a useful tool for helping the men and women of your church to get plugged in and serve the Body.
The Servanthood Survey
Every Christian who’s able should be serving in the local church. This survey is designed to help you find a place of service in our church. It will help you understand the biblical concept of servanthood and to consider which place of service God may be leading you to as you think about the ways He has uniquely gifted and equipped you.
What is biblical servanthood?
Unfortunately, in Christian culture today, the concept of servanthood has been lost or abandoned in favor of the desire for notoriety. Our flesh wants to be recognized, applauded, and patted on the back for what we do in the church. But what does the Bible teach about serving?
Jesus is our ultimate and perfect example of servanthood:
Read Matthew 20:25-28
- How does Jesus contrast His followers (26) with Gentiles (the lost) (25)?
- What does Jesus say is the way to “greatness” in the Kingdom of God? (26-27)
- What is the example Jesus set for us regarding servanthood, and how does He say we can follow His example? (28)
Read John 13:1-17
In a culture in which people often went barefoot or wore sandals and public sanitation was not what it is today, foot washing was a dirty, sometimes disgusting, task. Because it was a job nobody wanted, and considered beneath the dignity of more highly positioned servants, foot washing was usually assigned to the lowest ranked servant in the household.
- Who took on the task and the position of lowest ranked servant in this passage? (3-4)
- Why was Peter upset when Jesus tried to wash his feet? (6,8) How did Peter normally view and think of Jesus (see Matthew 16:15-16) that would have caused him to be appalled that Jesus would lower Himself in such a way?
- What was the “example” (15) Jesus gave, and how should we carry out His example? (14)
- Who do the “servant” and “messenger” represent in verse 16? The “master” and “the one who sent him”? What does verse 16 mean?
- Look closely at verse 17. What is the difference between “knowing” and “doing” these things? What is the consequence “if you do them”?
Prayerfully examine and compare your heart attitude about serving in the church to what Jesus taught and demonstrated in these two passages:
- Compare your willingness to Jesus’ willingness. His humility to your humility. What He taught about lowliness and serving in anonymity to your thoughts and attitudes about serving in lowliness and anonymity.
- Is your heart’s desire to fill a “spotlight” position in the church because you crave recognition and praise from others?
- Do you desire to be “first” and “great” in the eyes of others, or in the eyes of God?
- Jesus’ regular ministry was teaching, not foot washing. Are you willing to pitch in and do whatever needs to be done at the moment even if it’s a thankless task, a dirty job, or “not your ministry”?
Knowing Our Roles
When Jesus came to earth, God had a special, well-defined role of service for Him. He was to live a sinless life, teach, perform miracles, die on the cross for our sins, and rise again. He was not to be a husband, father, chief priest, scribe, farmer, or soldier. One of the ways Jesus obeyed God was by staying within the parameters God had set for Him and joyfully and robustly fulfilling His role without coveting the roles of others or complaining about the role God had assigned Him.
God has also assigned certain roles of service in the church to certain people. We must be sure to follow Jesus’ example by joyfully embracing, and robustly fulfilling, the role He has given us and not coveting the roles of others.
- What does this passage teach us about the value of each church member’s service to the Body?
- Is it right for any church member to look down on anyone else’s role of service? (21) Is it right for us to look down on our own “lowly” role of service and be jealous of someone else’s more “prestigious” role of service? (15-17)
- Who arranges members – and, consequently, their roles of service – in the Body? (18) Did He do so arbitrarily or with purpose? (18) What does that tell us about the importance of obeying God by staying in the role He has assigned us?
- What is the effect when we embrace the role God has assigned to us and encourage others in the role God has assigned to them? (25)
Most roles of service in the church are open to many Christians. But in the same way there are good reasons we wouldn’t allow a five year old to drive the church van or a man to chaperone the girls in their sleeping quarters at youth camp, God has good reasons that He restricts certain people from serving in a few specific roles, and that He requires certain people to step up and fill certain roles.
God requires that certain biblically qualified men to step up and take on the leadership of the church as pastors, elders, and deacons.
- What are the qualifications for each of these offices in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 passages?
- Is every Christian man qualified to serve in these roles? What are some things from these passages that would disqualify a man from serving in one or more of these roles?
- Must every man who is biblically qualified serve in one of these offices? (1 Timothy 3:1) What would be some reasons a biblically qualified man might not or should not serve in one of these offices? Should a man who is biblically qualified give serious prayerful consideration to serving in one of these offices?
- Is a godly man’s service to the church any less valuable if he does not serve in one of these roles? (You may wish to review 1 Corinthians 12:12-31)
God requires that women who are mature in the faith train up younger women and children in godliness. However, as we have seen in the 1 Timothy 3/Titus 1 passages, He has restricted the offices of pastor, elder, and deacon to biblically qualified men. First Timothy 2:12-14 shows us that women are also restricted from carrying out two of the functions of these offices: preaching and teaching the Bible to co-ed/men’s groups in the church setting, and exercising teaching or non-teaching authority over co-ed/men’s groups in the church setting. This means that our church will place qualified men in any position of service which requires preaching or teaching the Bible to men, and/or holding authority over men.
- Recalling 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, does God’s restricting these few church offices/functions to biblically qualified men mean that He values the service of women or men who don’t serve in these roles any less than He values the service of men who do serve in these roles? Should we value their service less?
- What are some ways you see men and women serving in our church which do not require them to preach/teach the Bible to men or exercise authority over men? Explain the importance of a few of these roles of service and their value to the church.
Read Matthew 5:29-30
Everyone sins, and everyone deals with different temptations to sin. If there are certain roles of service in our church that would tempt you to sin, it is not wise for you to serve in that position of service. For example, if you struggle against the temptation to steal, we want to lovingly help you avoid that temptation by not making you our church treasurer.
- What does Jesus say we should do with things that tempt us to sin?
- Prayerfully consider your areas of weakness and temptation. Are there any areas in our church in which you feel it would be unwise for you to serve?
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Are there any areas in our church in which it would be illegal or violate your probation for you to serve?
If you’re struggling to embrace the role in the church that God has assigned to you, prayerfully examine your heart to discover why that might be. Compare the way Jesus embraced the role God assigned Him with your heart attitude about embracing the role God has assigned you.
Suited to Serve
God has created each human being with unique talents, abilities, and interests, and gives Christians spiritual giftings for service (see Romans 12:3-8). This is one of the ways He equips us for ministry in the church. While we should always be ready to pitch in and help whenever a need arises, most of the time, God does not assign people long term roles of service that go against the grain of the way He wired them. However, there are times when we serve in a capacity we think we’ll hate, and we end up loving it, discovering giftings and abilities we never knew we had!
Take some time to prayerfully consider your character traits, interests, abilities, experience, talents, and gifts that may help match you up with a place of service in our church:
- Have you ever worked on a task or project that gave you the sense that, “This is what God put me on this earth to do,” or brought you great joy? Describe that task or project. Would others objectively look at the results and say you did a good job? Is there a way you could serve our church by doing that same thing or something similar?
- What kinds of things do unbiased people (not close friends/family) tell you you’re good at and encourage you to pursue?
- Make a list of ten categories of work you enjoy and are good at (ex: organizing, working with children, repair work, writing, hospitality, etc.). Is there a way you could serve our church in one of these capacities?
- Are you willing to give a role of service a try even if you’re inexperienced in that area or it’s not your favorite area?
- When looking out across the landscape of our church, do you think, “Somebody needs to do something about _______,”? Pray about the possibility that God has put this need on your heart because He is moving you to do something about it, help someone else do something about it, or facilitate (provide finances, materials, a meeting place, etc.) someone else doing something about it.
Prayerfully look over the attached list of roles of service needing someone to fill them. Is there a certain role God seems to be leading you to or that you believe would be a good fit for the way God has created and equipped you? Is there a need you see in our church that’s not on the list that God has placed on your heart to fill? Make an appointment with the pastor, elder, or other appropriate leader and discuss the role of service you would like to take on.
(Churches using the survey: You will need to attach your own list of specific opportunities for service available in your particular church HERE.)