Church, and the people in it.

Untapped Talent by kind permission of Dave Walker

A church I know is preparing a major stewardship campaign. I am excited about this, because it is potentially going to allow for a major increase in the work that church does for its community and for its existing membership. A lot of people have worked hard, and prayed hard, about the campaign and its implementation.

This has made me think. Dangerous. I completely identify with the people in this cartoon. I may have mentioned this on this blog before.  Would any church need a campaign to ask for time and hard cash if the comments in the cartoon were addressed?

Does your church expect people to volunteer, to work with potential strangers on strange projects? Or does it ask people, or tell people how to join in? Is the onus on the newbie to find their niche, or are they supported to find the best use of their talents? What if the thing the newbie is good at already has someone in that job role? Does the existing expert share? Or is the newbie told to do something else? Are people willing to listen to newbies who might have different ideas or perspectives on a situation? I wonder how much enthusiasm for God’s service leaks out of church because we’re all a bit crap at putting aside our own expert egos and letting someone else share the Thing We Do In Church. (I can be possessive about the bits of church I clean).

In the interests of full disclosure I’m partly writing this blog post because of a recent experience. I attempted to offer help in something I believe am relatively good and quite experienced at. My ego was bruised when my ideas were not welcomed with open arms (possibly down to the bull-in-a-china-shop approach I adopted). I’m partly also writing this because I have been thinking a lot lately about what my role in life is – and what exactly are the talents and skills I have to offer. Do I see myself accurately? Or am I really *that* PCC member – you know, the one that people breathe a huge sigh of relief about when I send apologies? Is my questioning insightful, or trivial? What part should I be playing in a community, when I still feel very much the outsider?

Answers on a postcard, please…

PS if you like this cartoon, you might want to know that there is a new Dave Walker book coming soon…


  1. If its any help, I struggle with issues like this too. What am I good at? I’m something of a jack-of-all-trades – or at least willing to ‘have a go’ at things, but it’s then hard to know what I’m actually gifted at or called to.

    My most recent experience of being a ‘newbie’ in church had me quizzing people (gently? provactively?) on one area of ‘expertise’ and clearly the time wasn’t right. But a year or two later when it was, someone must have made a note and I ended up leading the team running the AV system. I’m sorry if your rebuff is difficult, the year or two I had to wait was frustrating.

    Just to confuse matters for me now, struggling with CFS I’m finding I more and and more have to curb my various activities because of the physical or mental struggles. And it really leaves me questioning what my role is and what I’m supposed to do.

  2. It’s not only in your church that this happens. It’s difficult for some (is that most?) people to assess what their skills and capabilities are so perhaps a day or a half day event doing something like a skills assessment could be used. Look at the jobs that need to be done, the people currently doing them, the qualities needed etc – just as you would in a business setting. Have you got square pegs in round holes, round pegs in square ones?
    And yes, there are times when God calls us to move outside of our comfort zones and try something new.
    I’ve noticed that newcomers into the body of Christ want to be DOING rather than simply BEING — those of us who’ve been around for a while need to be aware of that and take advantage of the enthusiasm.

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