Workplace Wisdom Transforms Church Ministry: Volunteer Leader's Innovation in Southeast China

A church
A church
By Kristina RanApril 11th, 2024

"Churches and companies are certainly fundamentally different. Churches rely on inner drive, while companies rely on utilitarian rewards and punishments, but there are also many similarities between them," said a church core volunteer.

Ze Liang (pseudonym), who volunteers in a central church in Southeast China, expresses that while the church teaches him to be a good Christian in the workplace, he applies the experiential wisdom gained in the workplace to his ministry. 

Establishing norms and discovering to improve efficiency

In many churches, a few full-time workers handle preaching, pastoral care, and planning, while a large number of volunteers or part-time workers manage specific tasks and varied ministries. With specialized volunteer groups and refined ministries, efficiency improvement becomes crucial, especially with life pressures and limited time.

"I finish work at 6 p.m. and take a one-and-a-half-hour ride to the church," said a young person who has just entered the workplace. He has joined the worship team but hoped for efficient rehearsals.

As the finance officer of a large company with four to five thousand employees, Ze Liang understands the role of rules, rewards, and punishments. He set several norms for the youth choir, saying that they could not arrive late or depart early and that they should complete the practices within the specified time. He divided the choir into two teams, developed a scoring system, and deducted points for violations. Six months later, the team with low scores would undertake "penalties" — responsible for serving during youth fellowship activities or other ministries as needed.

Besides establishing rules, managers should utilize talented people wisely. Ze Liang said that leaders don't necessarily have to be experts but must be able to recognize others' gifts and allocate tasks reasonably. "Nobody will be too busy to catch their breath, with no one feeling disengaged," he said. 

Extensive learning and promotion of ministry innovation

As one of the oldest churches in the district, Church A has been established for 35 years. It has an effective system for pastoral care and management. However, with the shift of the district center and the emergence of new towns and new central churches, some of Church A's traditional practices have become outdated.

Previously, the church introduced gatherings and event time relying on word of mouth; performances must be presented at Christmas and Easter; Christmas gifts were always boxes of egg yolk pies costing around twenty yuan. Ze Liang believed that conformity came from indifference and laziness. After joining the church council, Ze collected information from the internet and nearby churches, and replaced Christmas gifts with fruits, greeting cards, and church event introduction cards last year, combining with the preferences of congregants and comparing prices. The latter cards could also be distributed to newcomers.

He also explored new ideas with youth fellowship members. Some of them carried out street interviews, asking people about their impressions of Christmas and making short videos as Christmas programs. He also found that believers did not understand the meaning of Easter, so he searched for introduction videos about Easter online and played them before the celebration programs. He said all these were inspired by his company's annual meetings.

Leaders should be humble, approachable, and authoritative.

As a nonlocal who came to work in the city, Ze Liang understands the importance of humility in the company. He said, "As a newcomer to City A, especially as a young person, I have to be even more humble."

As a workplace leader, he also sees that those in charge of ministries must possess both authority and affability. The leader should lead by example, so people can trust and follow him. An affable person is not aloof but gentle and humble.

"I dedicate Monday to Friday to the company, and Saturday and Sunday to the church." Seeing senior pastors and staff members serving the church diligently, Ze Liang was determined to dedicate his free time to the church, once he merely attended worship services.

"They are my role models." He said, "I’m impressed by their efforts to serve at such an old age, so I changed."

- Translated by Abigail Wu

related articles
LATEST FROM Church & Ministries