Church, Servanthood

New FREE Resource for Churches: The Servanthood Survey

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. 

Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

  • 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.

Read 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Timothy 2:12-15, and Titus 2:3-5

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.)


Additional Resources

Servanthood
Let Me Count the Ways: 75 Ways Women Can Biblically Minister to Others

Rock Your Role: Jill in the Pulpit
Rock Your Role FAQs

Servanthood, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ Homemaking Through Servanthood

Originally published April 22, 2014homemaking-through-servanthood

Usually, when I think of the word “homemaking,” I think of Better Homes and Gardens. You know, having a spotless showplace with the most beautiful designer furniture, a lovely table set with fresh flowers, fine china, and cloth napkins, cuisine containing ingredients you have to special order at a froo froo food market. Oh, and candles. Lots of candles.

Listen, if you’re gifted in making spaces beautiful in that way, my hat is off to you. Way off. You are my heroine. And by the way, can I come over for dinner?

I’m not gifted in that area. My husband and I have five sons and one daughter, four of whom still live at home, two of whom I home school. My goal is to keep noticeable filth to a minimum while still maintaining some semblance of a life. Unexpected visitors who come to my door often hear the Lesley family motto, “Please excuse the mess, but we live here.”

That’s my homemaking.

I’m busy, I’m tired, and the boys keep using the candles as light sabers.

But, it’s a home. Our home.

And, since it’s ours, we all share in making it a home. Every member of our family has a stake in making our home a haven where each of us can relax, take a break from the outside world, and enjoy each other. From the youngest child all the way up to Dad, we each own part of the responsibility for making our house a home.

And the way we’re to do that is by serving each other.

Once upon a time, Jesus set the ultimate homemaking example. During supper one night—the last supper He would share with the disciples—Jesus summarized everything He had been teaching them for the last three years in one final lesson. Did he preach a sermon? Teach a Bible study? Lecture them?

No. He picked up a towel and did a common household chore. He washed their feet.

It was one of the lowliest chores, normally done by one of the lowliest servants. Certainly not one any of the disciples would deign to perform, and definitely beneath the dignity of their sovereign King.

But He did it anyway. He served His brothers.

Because it was something that needed to be done.

Yes, because their feet were dirty, but mainly because it taught them humility, servanthood, and love. I’m laying my life down for you, My friends. Now you lay down your lives for one another.

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. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
John 13:12-15

I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. As Jesus put His dignity, His rights, and His own self interests aside, so, we lay these things aside in service to one another. And it starts with our families.

In our family, it’s the simple things: my husband putting gas in the car so I don’t have to, my putting his clean clothes away, my son getting a drink for his sister, my daughter picking up trash that she didn’t put down.

We follow Jesus’ example of washing another’s feet when we die to self, pick up a towel and serve our family members. Yes, because things need to be done, but mainly because it teaches all of us humility, servanthood, and love.

Candles or no candles, that’s how you make a home.


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Church, Ministry, Servanthood, Women

Sunday School Lesson ~ 12-29-13

I just noticed that I didn’t get last week’s Sunday School lesson posted. I have a good excuse, though. It was my 21st anniversary, and my husband and I went out to dinner :0) Please excuse my tardiness in getting this posted.

sunday school

These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. They will be in outline form, so if you have any questions or need more details, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Click here for last week’s lesson.

Godly Womanhood – God’s Role for Women in the Church Part 2- Opportunities to Serve

Titus 2

Last week, we talked last week about the “forbidden fruit” in the Garden of women’s service in the church. This week, we’re talking about all the other fruits God has lavished on us.

Titus- Background: Titus is a pastoral epistle written by Paul to Titus circa A.D. 62-64. Titus had worked with Paul at the church in Crete and was left there by Paul to continue pastoring that church. Paul instructs Titus on structure in the church (Ch. 1- qualifications for elders, Ch. 2- mentoring and teaching) and emphasizes the importance of Christians living godly lives. (Ch. 2-3) in order that God’s word may not be shamed and that it may attract people whom God wills to save.

Titus 2:

1- Who is “you”? What does it mean to “teach what accords with sound doctrine”?

“You” refers to Titus specifically, and pastors in general, though it applies to everyone who teaches God’s word. (Of course, it would not make sense that pastors are to teach sound doctrine, but others can teach false doctrine!) “Sound doctrine” means biblical teaching that matches God’s word in context.

2-3- How are “older men/women” to conduct themselves? 

“Likewise…reverent” refers back to the list of characteristics in v. 2. “Older” generally means those 60+ who no longer had (for women) child-rearing responsibilities. We are all older than someone and should be working towards this little by little as we age.

When have children still home, our primary mission/teaching field is those children. God does not want us neglecting our families in order to train/serve others. However, it is important for children to see a godly example of service to church/others. Children can even be included in some acts of service (making meals, visiting elderly, etc.). There has to be a balance with our families coming first (another important reason for men not to shirk leadership duties- women don’t have to do all the church work AND all the child rearing).

“Empty nesters” and single women have the blessing of being able to devote much more time and energy to serving the church.

Anna (Luke 2:36-38)– Anna was a good example of godly older single woman and how she served in the “church”. Contrast Anna’s “giving thanks to God and speaking of Him” to Titus 2:3’s “slanderers and slaves to much wine”

“Teach what is good”– “Good” goes back to v.1- sound doctrine. We are to teach younger women to fulfill the special roles only women are uniquely created/crafted/shaped by God to fill. These things are “good” and also necessary, or Paul would not have mentioned them. They are not to be scorned in favor of the forbidden fruit of instructing men.

4- Why do younger women need to be trained to love their husbands and children? (Luke 9:23, Matthew 22:39, Luke 10:25-37) Somehow, we have the misguided notion that love is a simply a feeling and that it comes naturally. But, we are to love like Christ. We are to deny ourselves and take up the cross daily, love neighbor (family) as self, and be a Good Samaritan to our nearest neighbors- our families. It is a huge responsibility and sphere of influence.

5- Self-control in all areas: anger, modesty lust, selfishness, etc. Purity in thoughts/deeds: self-righteousness, selfish motivations. Working at home: making a peaceful, gospel-centered home where Christ is honored. Hospitality to the lost, ministering to church/neighbors out of your home, mentoring younger women- showing them an example of a godly home, and more.

Why are we to teach/learn to be self-controlled, pure, etc.?  That the word of God may not be reviled. The world is watching. Live in obedience to God’s word as living testimonies to its truth in all aspects, but especially the gospel. Uphold the beauty and truth of God’s word by living it.

Other ministry opportunities for women:
This is not an exhaustive list, just some things that class members have asked about, things suggested by Scripture, and common areas of church service that are not in conflict with God’s role for women’s service in the church as specified in 1 Timothy 2:12 and other Scriptures.

1. Raising up the next generation of godly men and women, and teaching children in the church (1 Timothy 2:15).

2. Correcting false or inaccurate Bible teaching (Acts 18:24-26) Notice: 1.) Priscilla does this in a support role to her husband, 2.) They take him off to the side, alone, not in front of others, or in a church service 3.) This is a temporary, needed at the moment, situation, not an ongoing office held by a woman. Ideally, a godly man will step up and handle situations like this, but in some cases a man is not available. Certainly women are to teach other women sound doctrine and to denounce false teachers, male or female.

3. Missions and evangelism (Matthew 28:18-20) The Great Commission is not limited to men. Women missionaries to women are needed, especially in Muslim countries in which women aren’t permitted to talk to men. Male missionaries to men are needed in these countries for the same reason. Married couple mission teams are also needed.

4. Hospitality and ministry support (Romans 16, Acts 16:15) Paul mentions several women he is thankful for who served in the church. Churches met in their homes (which was dangerous at that time), and they took in traveling missionaries/pastors (also risky). V. 13- Rufus’ mother was a “mother” to Paul (probably housed and fed him, did his laundry, etc.) Today, this could mean the same (taking in traveling minister) or serving your own pastor/his wife- type up the bulletin, babysit for pastor’s family, cook for them, etc.

5. Ministering to widows, orphans, the sick, the poor, and those in prison (Matthew 25:34-40) Food pantries/clothes closets or just giving of your abundance to those in need, working at orphanages/foster care, food/comfort for the bereaved, visiting in the hospital/housework while someone is sick, visiting at the women’s prison.

6. Financial support of others’ ministries (Luke 8:1-3, Acts 16:14)

7. Music (Ephesians 5:18-19)

8. Prayer (Acts 16:11-15) There were not 10 Jewish men (heads of household) in Philippi required to establish a synagogue, so the women were meeting out by the river to pray/worship.

9. Building and grounds upkeep.

10. Committee work and administration. As long as male leadership is not usurped, there are many committees women can serve on and some they can even chair.

11. Disaster relief

12. Special projects. Fundraising, dinners, collections for military care packages, outreach, VBS, etc.

Lots of areas of service in the church are biblically open to women, many of them needful of a woman’s special touch. Women’s service in the church is vital. It is not less important just because it does not include teaching and holding authority over men.