Maximizing Church Volunteer Effectiveness: Divine Design

The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 130

Want to maximize your church volunteer effectiveness?

Church leaders sometimes take simple things for granted, which we frequently see in the case of this week’s topic on Divine Design. Sometimes a few simple things can have a significant impact, though.  Want to help a Christ-follower find their place in the Kingdom? A few simple exercises can set them on a track for greater ministry volunteer effectiveness in a shorter period of time than many people experience. 

Left on their own, some people very quickly move into passionate service in the church right away, and spend their life there doing great things.  But for most others, they wander around looking for where they fit. It doesn’t have to be that way. The church can develop a system to get them to the end of their discovery journey quicker.

Dr. Malphurs’ book, Maximizing Your Effectiveness, goes into great detail in outlining the path towards finding your place in ministry – your “Divine Design.”

Today, we’re hitting the high points using Rick Warren’s SHAPE acronym.

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Spiritual Gifts

When investigating how God has wired someone for ministry, the first place to look is how he may have gifted them after conversion. Spiritual gifts assessments are not inspired works, but they are helpful tools to assist in understanding how God has equipped someone to do the work of the ministry.  Many times, the assessment is simply affirming, or giving definition to something that the believer was already feeling or experiencing, but may not have known how to articulate it.

Heart or Passion

What really drives someone to sacrificial giving of time or money?  Most often, it’s what they are passionate about.  Blessed are the ones who have this passion come to them early in their Christian life.   For others, it takes more time and experience (see #5 below) to unlock what they may really have a heart for.  Ask questions like:

  • “What areas of ministry keep you up at night?”
  • “What issues in the world are you moved by?”

Questions like this can begin to open up this area of ministry motivation for someone.

Abilities and Talents

Even before coming to Christ, people have broad ranges of natural talents and abilities.  The question then becomes, “How can I use this as a blessing in the Kingdom of God?”  Most often, talents like singing or playing an instrument come to mind. However, those with abilities in finance, organization, teaching, and countless others, all have a role to play.


Digging into our personalities can help narrow the options for where we may serve best.  There are several popular personality assessments out there. Here at TMG, we think the DISC does a good job with fewer options to help make the results a little easier to understand.  A Dominant personality is less likely to excel in a personal care or counseling position, so this kind of information is helpful to know people and get them connected in serving opportunities.


This is a personal favorite of mine. It’s one of the areas that has most shaped my life and ministry.  Exposing people to areas of the church that they didn’t know about can be very helpful.  Likewise, past experiences are also helpful when you find that you are enjoying (or not enjoying) an area of ministry.  Ruling something out can have as much value as trying something that turns out to be good.

The key to bringing this all together is to design a system in the church for helping people gather information in all five of the Divine Design areas talked about above.  This can be done in a new member’s class or part of another discipleship process.  It’s good to capitalize on new members and even new believers in getting them connected in serving as soon as possible.  It’s where they’ll make close connections with people, learn more about the church and themselves.  As an integral part of a volunteer engagement system, Divine Design can truly help any church maximize its volunteer effectiveness in ministry, and see great results.

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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.

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