I believe that every Seventh-day Adventist Church in America…nay, in the World should invest in the hiring of a really good Bible Worker. Almost all churches I’ve been around void of a pastor, a large percentage of their congregations long for a pastor; I would say in many of those cases these churches would be better off to start with a Bible Worker.
Why am I so high on Bible Workers?
Well let me first tell you this has not always been the case. In fact 5 years ago I would have placed Bible Workers at the very bottom of my ministry totem pole.
Because Bible Workers a lot of times seem way too happy to me (this remains true in my opinion :)). No people should smile as much as Bible Workers do.
Most Bible Workers I was aware of trended towards emphasis on traditional Adventism (not talking core theology); jewelry, music, women in ministry, service order and function, etc.. And well, I’m just not traditional & didn’t know if I wanted traditional around me at all. (I’ve learned to embrace the traditional in the midst of my non-traditional ways).
I thought they were all vegan and frankly I didn’t want constant lectures on the cheese they’d see me eat. 🙂
Did I mention they smile too much?
And let me be very honest: I questioned the value someone that went to a 6 week or a 6 month course could add to my ministry which was built on years of studies w/ degrees on my wall to prove it. Boy was I wrong!
You get the point, I was not the prototypical candidate to advocate for Bible Workers. Yet here I am. Shouting through the waves of the internet: HIRE A BIBLE WORKER!
In fact I discovered my love and support of Bible Workers a few years back when our Conference cut the amount of Bible Workers in our territory and I realized I was the only pastor I know of that wanted to give-up some of my money to keep more Bible Workers on board.
What changed my mind?
An elementary teacher turned Bible Worker by the name of Noemi. Who one day told me that she wanted to be hired as a Bible Worker at our church.
I told her to pray about it. Which was a nice way of saying, “Good luck with that.”
But she must have prayed because not more than a month later I had someone in my office offering me $1500 a month to help fund a Bible Worker position. And Noemi was hired.
In my observation of Noemi over the last 3+ years I have come to respect, value, believe in, recognize my great need for, and advocate for the necessity of Bible Workers within our churches.
So that is why I am writing this blog to advocate for and advise on the hiring of a great Bible Worker within your church.
Why Bible Workers?
- Most that I have met are passionate about reaching lost people. Having someone like this around can infuse energy into your church.
- They are trained for one specific purpose to be soul winners. Unfortunately a lot of churches have forgotten that this is the primary purpose of the church, to bring people to Jesus. Again a great Bible Worker can remind members and motivate them to embrace their true mission.
- Let’s be honest. Most Bible Workers are willing to work for a lot less money than pastors. Thus a great Bible Worker will be worth their weight in gold especially next to an average pastor.
- Bible Workers have the gift of being able to connect guests with members. They see things a lot of members don’t see and thus can match people up with one another quite effectively.
- Bible Workers are happy to get out into the community and mingle with neighbors. They are good marketers for your church.
- If your church hasn’t baptized anybody in years, I would be willing to wager that a good Bible Worker will help you baptize at minimum 5 people this next year. If you’ve baptized a lot of folk, prepare to baptize more (our baptisms have doubled & even tripled under the utilization of Bible Workers). And a really great Bible Worker may even help you retain them.
My tips on hiring a Bible Worker:
- If you don’t have a Bible Worker be willing to sacrifice anything and everything in your budget to get one. If ever I were to interview at another church no matter how big or how small, how traditional or non-traditional, rich or poor one of my first questions would be, “can I have a Bible Worker?” (Preferably I’d bring with me the two I have now, more on this later).
- If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. I recognize not all Bible Workers are great. But don’t give-up just b/c of one, two, or three bad apples. Trust me all the bad ones a church may have to go through are worth it when you find a great Bible Worker.
- Don’t hire the next David Asscherick. I love David we are good friends, but what I mean by that is unfortunately there are some individuals out there that go through Bible Worker training, go into the field as Bible Workers, but their real desire is to be the next David Asscherick, Nathan Renner, or Taj Pacleb. You don’t want a Bible Worker that wants to be famous. I want a Bible Worker that could care less about preaching or being a great public evangelist. I want a Bible Worker that hustles after leads, knocks on strangers doors in their free time, looks for every opportunity to help at the church in any capacity. Finds joy in taking members out on studies with them.
- Try to hire local. My Bible Worker at Visalia SDA & my Bible Worker at The Ark (our church plant) are both local ladies. Noemi has lived here in this valley since she was around 3 or 4 and Kelly has lived here in this valley since she was 7 or 8. The place I met Jesus (Dayton, OH area) has a soft-spot in my heart. I often tell Christina (my wife) it is one of the only places I think I would be immediately tempted to leave California for. Well it is no different for my Bible Workers they grew-up here, they met Jesus here, they care about this community and want to see it reached for Jesus. It also works in your favor to hire a local in order to retain the Bible Workers services beyond just a short stint.
- When possible, hire from within. Noemi and Kelly were both members at the churches they are currently serving at before they were hired. Why is this important to me and the best method if possible? Because both ladies demonstrated their willingness to serve long before they were hired. They both demonstrated that they were invested in the well being of the church, not just themselves and their own agenda, or getting paid. They have a knowledge of the church culture, this is huge especially if your church tends to push against the walls every now and then. The church members already trust them so they can hit the ground running.
- Once you’ve found someone you can work with, do whatever you can to keep them! This is why I said above if I ever had to move I would try and take my Bible Workers with me. I’m a 49ers fan, three years ago they hired Jim Harbaugh to be their head coach. When Harbaugh joined the Niners he brought the majority of his key assistant coaches from his previous job. Why? Because he/she knows them he/she trusts them. He/she has a working relationship that actually works. If someone meshes with your church and your pastor don’t mess with that!
- Hire for the long haul. In a lot of places Bible Workers are hired for short stints often times around evangelistic meetings. Let me share something with y’all. You have an evangelistic meeting every week, it’s called your church service! The average church gets 3 guests for every 50 attendees per week. A Bible Worker that knows your church, meaning they know who the members are & are not. A Bible Worker that knows they will be there longer than three months will have the long view in mind, which means they will take the time to invest in deeper relationships. A Bible Worker that is an actual member and has vested interest in seeing your church grow will help to embrace these guests that often slip through the cracks week in and week out. (Side Note: We were blessed to have a great short term Bible Worker with us this past fall in conjunction with an evangelistic series held at our church this was a great supplement to the meetings, but don’t let it be your sole view of Bible Workers. Hire for the long haul and supplement when necessary.)
- Hire with clear expectations. As someone that might be viewed as more progressive in ministry, maybe even some would say liberal (though many call me conservative too 🙂 ), when we hired Noemi I wanted her to know exactly what my views were so we wouldn’t have needless arguments down the road. Also, I wanted her to understand that I expected results and if they weren’t there the relationship as an employee of the church would not remain. I’ve unfortunately heard pastors express great frustration with the lack of results, the lack of work effort they observe in some of their Bible Workers. If an expectations conversation has been had on the front end it is easier to have the “goodbye” conversation later if necessary.
- Hire soul winners. I know this should be a given & this somewhat relates to the above topic of not hiring someone that wants to be famous. But I am also thinking about it from the perspective of what the primary function of a Bible Worker should be. There is a movement afoot that a Bible Workers primary task should be as a trainer and equipper of the membership for the work of ministry. Well I agree that is one of their tasks, but to me it is not their primary task, it is more secondary. A Bible Worker is not necessarily an Elder or Pastor which is whom the scriptures say should be the trainers and equippers. I see Bible Workers as having and serving in a very specialized ministry of the church, and that is as a soul winner. Yes every member should be trained to be a soul winner, but that doesn’t alleviate the need for some to serve exclusively in this capacity of aggressive intentional soul winning. Just as every member should be an evangelist, but that doesn’t take away the need for the specialists in this area like Mark Finley or John Bradshaw. If I paid money to have Mark Finley or John Bradshaw to come and hold an evangelistic series at my church, my primary objective for them would not be to train and equip my members; some of that would occur of course, but that is not their focus. Their focus is what? The specialized ministry of public evangelism. To me a Bible Worker is no different. Yes, I want them to take members on studies with them. Yes, I want them to train members to give studies. Yes, I want them to have members out knocking on doors with them; but with or without these things I want their focus to be what? The specialized ministry of aggressive soul winning! That is what we are paying them for.
- Finally hire someone that loves people. I was sitting in on the interview with Kelly when she was hired as a Bible Worker and she was talking about how since she met Jesus she saw people differently, when she met people she wanted to immediately share with them what she has received from Jesus. There are some Bible Workers that can give a great study. That are extremely personable. That can hustle and knock on hundreds of doors securing all kinds of studies. But it will all be knowledge based and mechanical and their converts will join based on knowledge and their religion will be mechanical once they do join. Hire someone that sees people differently than they did before they met Jesus, so that they’ll win people not just with what they know, but with how much they love them.
Okay now go find the budget and hire a great Bible Worker & enjoy the church growth that will follow!