Jeff Ward (Senior Director of External Focus) joins Adam and John to discuss how to mobilize the Church. You’ll hear the value of: inspiring and inviting people; treating the church as a battle ship, not a cruise ship; and, taking away excuses to serve. We hope you leave encouraged with practical ways to raise the value of service in your church.
Jeff strongly believes in the importance of building relationships when mobilizing the church. In hindsight, he recalls his previous outreach as “turkey dinner and toy baskets.” He engaged with people by finding an under-resourced family and taking them turkey dinners. These were families that he had no connection with before or after. In time, through new resources and experiences, Jeff has learned to see people as God’s image bearers. He wants to ensure that in our serving, we’re also not taking away their dignity, value, or worth.
Jeff structures outreach at Watermark around the anchor of relationships. Watermark wants to know and love the people they serve.
God’s Vision & Our Struggle (2:40)
All churches struggle to capture God’s vision to restore and redeem communities and advance His Kingdom on earth. The church is the only institution that God said the gates of hell will not prevail against. God has invited us, as a body of believers, to be co-redeemers of our communities to bring people to himself.
Five Principles to Mobilize the Church
- Shifting Perspectives (4:12)
- A Get To, Not Have To (11:47)
- Inspiring and Inviting (15:10)
- Take Away the Excuse (18:16)
- Equip the Saints (25:40)
1. Shifting Perspective (4:12)
“Mediocre leaders think in programs; great leaders think in value.” - Jeff Ward
The first principle is to encourage people to think differently about themselves. Are they an army or an audience? Do they just come on the weekends to listen to a message and put their kids into a program or are they an army to be deployed?
At Watermark, we believe that we are a battleship, not a cruise ship. We aren’t a place for people to come and be entertained. We’re on mission against the things that are dark.
Jeff also shared that statistically, most people do not view the church as part of the solution, but as part of the problem. However, 98% of evangelicals view their faith as a force for good. So, there’s a holy discontent, but many Christians don’t know what to do with that.
To make this shift in perspective, it’s important to start with the “why,” specifically a theology of who God is. It’s important to see that God wants his world to be in harmony and peace, just like the first two chapters of Genesis and the last two of Revelation. God’s desire is to restore all of this to his original design.
Leaders should ensure that their people understand this truth before being deployed into service. If people know who they are and that God has a purpose for them, then leaders are on the right track.
When the top of the leadership chain emulates this, perspective shifts quickly. This means that senior leadership should be modeling this in their own lives, where it then trickles down. For Watermark, this “trickle down” means discussing missional engagement through our 4B annual assessment, our new member classes, and community groups. We make sure that service is a natural overflow of our walk with Christ. Once that value is firmly planted, it can serve as a foundation to build initiatives and strategies.
2. A Get To, Not Have To (11:47)
Ephesians 2:10 is Jeff’s verse to encourage people to see missional engagement as part of a calling, regardless of vocation. He also shared his struggle in marrying his faith to his missional living. He eventually came to understand that it was about being salt and light in the context God had currently put him. He realized that unleashing people to identify and deploy their service was a gift.
John encouraged leaders to see giving away service as a gift. People want to be used and engaged in things that matter. It’s a blessing and a gift. Leaders should not be shy or manipulative in calling their people to action
3. Inspiring and Inviting (15:10)
“Simply start. Start simply.” - Adam Tarnow
“People gravitate towards what you celebrate.” - John McGee
In order to get your church moving, you must inspire and invite.
There are a few ways to inspire. You can do that either through beauty or duty. Duty is self-motivated, done out of an obligation. But, beauty encourages people to see what God is already doing and encouraging them to jump in. Jeff and his team avoid using guilt and shame to motivate their people and instead, show ways to engage with the Lord in his work.
One of the ways Watermark inspires is through stories. Adam encouraged leaders to find a mechanism to tell those stories. For Watermark, that is in the church bulletin called Watermark News. A call to action is at the end of the story as a next step and invitation for anyone who wants to serve. John stressed the importance of making the people in these stories heroes. This will inspire people to imitate the service the heroes are doing.
Inspiring without inviting, or vice versa, can confuse church members. A great story without a call to action or a host of service opportunities without a “why” won’t help people engage missionally.
4. Take Away the Excuse (18:16)
God doesn’t call everyone to sell everything and move to a foreign country to tell people about Jesus. People often feel intimidated by hearing stories of radical missions. Jeff and his team want people to understand that they can serve in their own neighborhoods and cities.
A great example of this is how one of Watermark’s programs, Unashamed, came about. A Watermark member realized while on a missions trip that he could do the exact same thing in Dallas when he came home. He pulled together a weekend-long experience where participants work with ministries and love people in downtown Dallas. When some people couldn’t commit to a full weekend, the Unashamed team offered a second alternative of just one day in downtown. Removing excuses and creating a low barrier to entry can mobilize even more people to participate.
Additionally, Jeff likes to start new members out small. He and his team have learned to employ “on-ramp” opportunities to let people get their feet wet and ensure their hearts are in a good place. This might be greeting or stacking shelves at a food pantry. If they’d like to deepen their service, they can become more involved in higher commitment opportunities, such as prison ministry or international trips.
Impact over activity is important for Watermark, as well. Jeff and his team work to equip and coach their people to be ready for more difficult shepherding opportunities.
5. Equip the Saints (25:40)
Ephesians 4:11-12 charges leaders to equip the saints and allow them to do ministry. Leaders will avoid burnout and fulfill God’s command when they give away service opportunities.
- How is your church doing with loving and helping your community?
- Is your church’s outreach anchored in relationship?
- As a leader, are you modeling service in your own life?
- Are you equipping your people to understand the “why” of serving?
- How is your church doing with both inspiring and inviting people to serve?
- How can you take away some of the excuses people have about serving?
Questions or comments? Email