Have you ever tried to bake a cake without a recipe? While cooking allows for some creative freedom–“a little bit of this, a little bit of that”–baking is a much more exact science. Add too much liquid, and your cake batter will be to wet. Don’t put in enough raising agent, and your cake will be flat and dense. Add too much oil or butter, and the cake will be a greasy mess. Gross! 

Using a recipe is important because it tells us the exact amount of certain ingredients needed to create the optimal end result: a moist, delicious cake. The recipe establishes clear expectations and sets us up to “win.” Without a recipe, you must simply rely on intuition (and perhaps some good luck) as you bake . . . and it’s likely the end result will be a disappointment.

As our past few blogs have discussed, if you possess a specific spiritual gift (be it in the green, red, or blue area) it is important that you use it. That is, you should be applying the gifts with which you have been given to areas where they are needed. But how can you be sure that this is being done correctly? One way to do that is by creating a ministry description.

If you’ve ever signed up to be a part of a ministry and then discovered that the ministry is completely different than you anticipated, then you can understand just one reason why a ministry description is important. Christian A. Schwarz explains it this way: “To ensure that gifts and tasks in a church complement one another, it is necessary that a description be drafted for each area of ministry . . . The responsibilities related to each task should be written down” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 91). Just as a cake recipe allows us to create the best cake possible, having a ministry description allows leaders have clear direction for their ministry and allows individuals who might be interested in serving to have a clear idea of what is expected of them. Having a clear description and clear expectations of a ministry also makes it easier to match spiritual gifts to specific ministry needs.

When creating a ministry description, the following components should be included:

– What is involved: Detail not only the large tasks, but also the subtasks. Clearly define each one so that there is no question as to what ministry involvement entails.

– Necessary training: Answer questions such as: What kind of training is necessary or required to efficiently run this ministry? Who will organize and facilitate the training? Is the training required or optional? 

– Spiritual gifts desired: What types of spiritual gifts are needed in this ministry? 

– Desired talents: What other types of abilities, experiences, and interests are most important for this ministry to thrive?

– Contact people: Set someone to be the “point person” should problems or questions arise. Ensure that this person’s information is shared with other team members so that they can actually contact that person, if needed.

– Length of assignment: “Failing to provide a definite termination point is a common error. It is important to limit the time period for each task and to discuss at the end of this period the option of extending the length of involvement” (The 3 Colors of Ministry, p. 91-92).

How do you feel a ministry description might bolster your own ministry? If you have a ministry description in place, does it include all of the recommended components? And personally, how would a ministry description best utilize the gifts you have discovered that you, yourself, possess?

Your spiritual gifts have been given are you for a specific reason: to build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 14). As such, it is our responsibly to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given, using them wisely and properly, for the good of the Kingdom. Establishing ministry descriptions is a great way to ensure that your gifts–and the gifts of others–are being used to their utmost potential.

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