If you have been turned away from the ministry you wanted to serve in, don’t take it as a personal attack.
I think the first question to ask is, “Why was I turned away from this ministry?” I’m sure the ministry will tell you the reason.
Ministries know that if they don’t do so, the person turned away might form their own reasons and possibly generate unfounded assumptions like “the ministry is biased against me” which would lead to bitterness.
The first question to ask is, “Why was I turned away from this ministry?
There are and there can be valid reasons why some people are not allowed to serve.
It might be because of their spiritual walk with God, their competence or their heart.
Ideally, if a person is going through a difficult time and has personal issues that temporarily disqualify them from serving, the ministry should offer to walk with them so that they can grow, learn and be restored one day.
If the problem is about competence, the ministry can offer to provide training or point potential members to avenues where they can be equipped with the basics before officially joining the ministry.
If the problem is about the heart, then the ministry can take time to observe the person for six months to test their motives, and to pray over the person.
If the problem is about their spiritual walk with God, they should take time (ideally with a mentor from the ministry) to build their foundations in God first and correct any behaviour that is not aligned with God’s Word.
But if the ministry rejects a member on the grounds of “we don’t like you”, then the ministry leader ought to be put under review as well.
How can leaders respond to members who don’t seem to “meet the criteria” for serving in that ministry?
I think this requires an honest conversation between the leader and the member. It would also be good to bring a third party (preferably a leader or pastor) who knows the member very well.
If the member has a different opinion on the decision made, he or she can voice out during such conversations.
Here it is good for the leader to listen and see if he or she had missed something or was misguided when making their decision.
The third party can also provide their thoughts and perspectives, and help to balance the conversation.
After such a conversation, the leader can give next steps to re-evaluate and reassess the member, and maybe come back after six months to discuss the member’s involvement with the ministry again.
There’s nothing wrong with waiting a little longer before serving. In fact, it reveals whether the member’s zeal to serve is genuine. At the same time, submission to the leadership regarding this decision is a good indicator of spiritual maturity too.
Healthy dialogue also allows the leader to suggest an alternative ministry that would fit this member better, and involve that ministry leader in the conversation as well.
I’m sure if the member and leader are both spiritually mature, these conversations will not be as painful as it sounds.
There will always be a place for us to serve in church.
And if there isn’t a place for the member to serve in the church, because that ministry doesn’t exist, then maybe it’s time to start that ministry. Sometimes, he who gets the vision gets the job!
Perhaps setting up a new ministry is what the member is there for. Of course, this has to come with lots of prayer and discernment, confirmation from others, as well as guidance from the pastors and leaders of the church.
There will always be a place for us to serve in church, because God has shaped us and gifted us in particular ways so that we can edify others in the Body of Christ.