How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve with Shawn Wood

Modern Church Leader feat. Shawn Wood
How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve feat.Shawn Wood on Modern Church Leader

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How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve

As the church is trying to recover from the pandemic, many church leaders are asking how they can lead people back to serving.

The answer is simple: Amid the uncertainty, we need to return to the basics of discipleship and service. By doing so, we will show people the power of community and the joy of serving others. 

This will not only help the church recover but will also give people the opportunity to serve God in new and meaningful ways. It will help them rediscover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, effectively getting them back on track.

The apostle Paul wrote about keeping our motivation to serve God strong amid difficult circumstances. He referred to this as 'pressing toward the goal.' One of the ways we can maintain our motivation to serve God is to remember our purpose–to glorify God.

The pandemic has weakened many people's desire to serve God. I'm not only referring to the few who've lost their faith. I'm also talking about those who still have faith but have lost their motivation to serve. It's incredibly disheartening to see people who once committed to the community and the church sitting on the sidelines. 

Perhaps we have forgotten to emphasize that serving others is also serving God. And when they serve the Lord, they are fulfilling their purpose. We have spent far too much time telling people what to do and far too little time teaching them why they should care about serving others.

It's in the service of others that we find our greatest joy and our deepest purpose. It's in the service of others that we find our greatest fulfillment.

The pandemic gives the church a chance to rebuild communities and individuals' capacity to serve. We must take advantage of this opportunity to return to our roots as servant leaders. The best way to do this is to bring the church back to where people feel a sense of stewardship rather than simply going through the motions. 

In this episode, our guest Shawn Wood, the Lead Pastor of Freedom Church, will take us through the practical ways to motivate people to serve others. He will also talk about the pandemic's impact on the church and how leaders can use this as an opportunity to step up, serve, and lead people in the right direction. 

“When you're doing what God has called you to do, you don't need a lot of other motivation. If we can get people in that position, where they're being fed by the fact that they're doing what God has asked them to do, then then they're going to show up anyway.”
-Shawn Wood

Shawn is the Lead Pastor and Founder of Freedom Church in South Carolina. He is also the author of several books, including 200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One, Wasabi Gospel, and In the Stillness. Shawn is married to Connie, and they have four children: Isabelle, Hayes, Sam, and Nia.

Listen to this episode to see how you might inspire others to serve!

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • The keys to building an online church without losing community
  • How the church can stay connected in times of crisis
  • Why gathering at church is still necessary for spiritual growth and community building
  • Practical ways you can motivate people to serve others
  • Ways to disciple during a pandemic

Here's a glance at this episode…

[19:17] I told our church, we're going to use online in every way we can, we're going to do online small groups, but our goal is that people would go to a brick and mortar church in their area, or ours if they're close enough. And that they would be in community with other people, learning and growing together and experiencing that emotion that I believe God created us of being together. 

[21:14] Do we want to provide content to people that they will call community, yet it will not be the community at all? It’s a counterfeit community. They’re just consuming content. And consuming content is not the church.

[21:28]  We decided to give a place for people that cannot go to brick and mortar churches because of COVID. And I get that, so we have people in our church who serve only online. They don't come and meet in church yet. But, we don't want people to call that their church. We don't want that to be their church for other reasons. 

[37:22] What we can do when we're desperate is we can start to fill spots instead of actually looking for what people are uniquely gifted to do. 

[38:43] The greatest motivation in the world is doing what God has called you to do. And when you're doing what God has called you to do, you don't need a lot of other motivation. If we can get people in that position, where they're being fed by the fact that they're doing what God has asked them to do, then then they're going to show up anyway.

[41:30] People say, how do you recruit people? Have something worth coming and doing. How do you keep a customer? You thank them. It’s the two most basic things in the world, and most churches do terribly. Give them something worth chasing, and then thank them for doing it. You let them know they're doing it for God, not for you.

podcast transcript

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Shawn Wood (00:00):
If all you want to do is get the best preaching on the internet, funnel it into your home, you and I both should sit down and watch Furtick. Because he's incredible. Why am I doing it? And so that was what we wrestled with is, do we want to provide content to people that they will then call community? And yet it will be not community at all. It's a counterfeit of community. They're just consuming content and consuming content is not church.

Narrator  (00:36):
Welcome to the Modern Church Leader where you'll hear executive pastors share practical tactics and strategies that churches are using right now to thrive in our digital world and advance the Kingdom of God. Here's your host, Frank Barry.

Frank Barry (00:49):
Hey guys, Frank here with Tithe.ly coming to you with another episode of Modern Church Leader. Super excited about today's chat, even in the pre-show got a bunch of things that we connected on, excited to talk to Pastor Shawn. Pastor Shawn, how's it going today?

Shawn Wood (01:03):
Doing good. It's great to be on the podcast, Frank, and love what you guys do at Tithe.ly and love what you do with this podcast as well.

Frank Barry (01:11):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean the podcast is not really focused on chatting with Tithe.ly customers, but you happen to be one which is extra awesome from my perspective. But we talk with pastors and church leaders really from all over the world, about what's going on at their church and their ministry and whatnot. So pumped to chat today.

Shawn Wood (01:35):
Awesome. Me as well.

Frank Barry (01:36):
I'd love to just start out having you give us some insight into you, how you got into ministry. I know you planted your church and you guys have been around for about 10 years, but a little bit about your journey would be awesome.

Shawn Wood (01:49):
Yeah. So I've been in ministry, feels like my whole life just about, because I started being a youth pastor or a youth director when I was 17, which I don't recommend. And I would never hire someone at 17.

Frank Barry (02:02):
What is that? 17 is a freshman in college?

Shawn Wood (02:05):
Yeah, yeah. Exactly. And they actually hired me my summer of my high school graduation. So I just graduated. People were in my youth group that I went to high school with. So it was really odd, really, really strange, but great learning environment. But I had been on church staff and some capacity since then. I'm 47 turning 48 fairly soon now, so for nearly 30 or over 30 years been on ministry but had a lot of different experiences, but really where I learned how to pastor people. Where I learned what church meant to me and what I wanted church to look like for us when we planted was my 10 years at Seacoast Church, under pastor Greg Surratt and got to serve there from 2001 until 2011 and had varying roles, many different roles there and was able to serve pastor Greg Surratt there at Seacoast at a multi-site church.

Shawn Wood (02:56):
Actually, one of the key churches that invented multi-site church was Seacoast Church. And so got to be a part of that and see that and run hard with that team there. And then in 2011, my wife and I knew that God was calling us to plant a church. And as we explored, we really thought he was calling us to plant a church in our hometown. And so we moved about 45 minutes away from Seacoast Church. Back to our hometown of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, which most of your listeners will not have heard of unless you know that it is also the birthplace of Pastor Steven Furtick, who also went to the same high school I went to.

Shawn Wood (03:33):
And so if you've heard Moncks Corner and you're like, "Where have I heard Moncks Corner before?" He talks about Moncks Corner a lot. And we're more likely to know about Moncks Corner from that than anything else in the world, honestly. So we're a little small town right outside of Charleston, South Carolina. So you probably know Charleston better. Coastal town, we love our oceans. We love our fishing, our hunting, all those things. And got to [crosstalk 00:03:57] Freedom Church 10 years ago here in Moncks Corner, our hometown.

Frank Barry (04:01):
Yeah. And so you are actually from, you and your wife are both from there?

Shawn Wood (04:05):
We are. Yeah. So we were high school sweethearts, got married when we were 20 and 21, we started dating when we were 17 and 16. So I've actually been dating my wife longer than I've been in ministry. Was already dating my wife when I went to that youth job. And so she was one of the youth that was in the youth group that I was now the youth pastor of because she was still in high school when we were out there. So really weird only in the south that can happen. But yeah, it happened so.

Frank Barry (04:37):
So good. So I mean I've not been to Moncks Corner, but I have been to Charleston a number of times [crosstalk 00:04:44] Yeah, yeah. Charleston is beautiful, man.

Shawn Wood (04:47):
I tell most people, "Why don't you live here?" But you're in San Diego. So can't really say that.

Frank Barry (04:52):
Yeah, it's tough. Right. I mean, Charleston is beautiful. I still would pick San Diego because Charleston in the summer with the noseeums, is that what they're called again, right?

Shawn Wood (05:06):
And the humidity.

Frank Barry (05:07):
Oh my gosh.

Shawn Wood (05:08):
And the seeums as I to call them, which are mosquitoes, which are about this big, you get a good dose of all of that.

Frank Barry (05:15):
I'm soft. I can't handle any of it. I'm staying out here.

Shawn Wood (05:18):
You guys can actually go outside during the summer in San Diego. Whereas we pretty much stay inside in August and September. So yeah. That 98 degrees, a hundred percent humidity is tough. It's tough stuff.

Frank Barry (05:29):
Yeah. And you mentioned Steven Furtick, did you guys go to school together?

Shawn Wood (05:34):
So he's a little bit behind me in high school. But we know each other from growing up in the Moncks Corner area and have known each other for years and stay friends to this day. Yeah.

Frank Barry (05:44):
Yeah, yeah. And I know you played basketball, so I'm not sure if you got... Did he play basketball? Is there any sports connection?

Shawn Wood (05:51):
No.

Frank Barry (05:51):
Was he sports guy?

Shawn Wood (05:52):
No, he is a Clemson fan. So that makes it even worse, but...

Frank Barry (05:55):
Oh, okay. Well moving on. So, so you planted the church 10 years ago?

Shawn Wood (06:01):
Yeah.

Frank Barry (06:02):
So you're a church planter and I know that's a special type of person. I mean, what's it been like, the 10-year journey?

Shawn Wood (06:10):
I think you always are a church planter. I always hear people they're like, "Yeah, I'm a church planter." And then they're like, "When did you plant your church?" "Oh, 35 years ago." And it's like, "You're not really a church planter anymore. I guess you are, but you're not." But I think it's just something in our DNA, once a church planter, always a church planter.

Frank Barry (06:27):
Absolutely.

Shawn Wood (06:27):
And yeah, so we planted 10 years ago with ARC, which was founded out of Seacoast Church. The ARC is the Association of Related Churches. And I tell everybody if you're going to plant a church, talk to ARC, go through ARC, because they just do an incredible job at planting churches. And so we got to plant a church in our hometown with a small core group and really for our size city had some really good success early on in a lot of the areas.

Shawn Wood (06:54):
And the areas that really matter like seeing people's lives, change and baptisms and salvations and people connecting and discipleship type of environments. But of course that was funneled out of a large group of people joining us as well. So had a lot of attendance as well. And so we've been able to build buildings over those 10 years that we worship in now. And we are not multi-site. Right now by strategy, we just like being a single-site church that we are and have been able to see a lot. And then over these last 18 months to two years, of course, we've just learned so much more and learning about what really matters and how to do church differently but yet the same.

Shawn Wood (07:39):
I think at first right in COVID we were all like, "Everything changes." And then we figured out no, everything didn't change, but some things were clarified. And some things we are glad that they changed and then some things, we're sad that they changed. And so we're dealing with all that and now too, but we've been blessed to have a really good 18 to two years' time as a church. I think we had done a lot of the work in the racial area before George Floyd and before a lot of churches that had to do a lot of work there.

Shawn Wood (08:19):
We had just been blessed by God to have our story intersect with some other people's stories that we are a church that has blended racially a lot. And so we've done a lot of that work. And so that didn't do a lot of negative stuff for our church. It did a lot for our church, but it was more like we were able to jump into some positive spaces, be a positive voice, and really had some voices within our church that were able to echo some things that needed to be said were already being said. So we didn't see a lot of that.

Shawn Wood (08:51):
By the grace of God we did not have a lot of masking, no masking; vaccine, no vaccine stuff. We just didn't have it. We didn't talk about it a lot. And so we didn't invite it in and we just didn't have a lot of that. And then our church really just came together and just seemed to, we just figured out who our core was. We figured out who the church was. So now we know, going forward, we know who's with us, and whether they were joining online or not because of great tools like Tithe.ly, and I know that's not what we're here for, but it really did.

Frank Barry (09:28):
You can pitch it all day long, go for it.

Shawn Wood (09:30):
I'm talking to people at that time who are like, "Hey, how are y'all going to make it financially?" And I'm like, "We're fine. We're doing great."

Frank Barry (09:39):
Right.

Shawn Wood (09:39):
"Wow. How are you collecting offerings?" And we're like, "Well, we were already doing 68% online, I think before COVID. So we had it in place." And so that really helped. And so people that were joining us online and we're in South Carolina, so much different from California, probably much different than a lot of people who are joining us. We were back in the church pretty quickly. We were not out a long time.

Shawn Wood (10:03):
I think we started having services again, live with a significant portion of our people here in June of 2020. So April, May, we were out March went out in March a little bit. April, May were really the only two months that we weren't doing church and had 50% of our people show up from day one almost. And then that just kind of grew some. So we got through that stuff and just, I feel like it's been one of those years or two years or whatever where we just-

Frank Barry (10:40):
Isn't it crazy that it's literally almost two years?

Shawn Wood (10:42):
Almost two. I keep saying 18 months, even as [crosstalk 00:10:44]

Frank Barry (10:44):
I know I've said 18 months for so long and I'm like, "Wait a minute. No, we're actually almost hitting two years here pretty soon." It's crazy.

Shawn Wood (10:52):
So those two years for us have been, I just think we know who we are. Our staff really congealed, we know who we are, we know what we do, what we do well. From freedom, our church is called Freedom, but we found some freedom. Because I would say I'm an eight on the Enneagram, if anybody cares, I'm driven, I'm a little old school in my work ethic. So missing church, just wasn't an option. Hurricanes, bad weather, whatever we were like, "We're doing church." I mean, that's just what we're doing, we do church. If people show up, they show up and if you don't show up, you're weak.

Shawn Wood (11:38):
That was my mentality before all of this happened and God really used it honestly as a discipline and a disciplining of me having to miss church, because I had to deal with some idols of the meeting. The meeting had become an idol in some ways. I was definitely worshiping God through it, but it was a vehicle that had become a little bit of an idol for me because I thought, "If we don't meet, we can't make it. If we don't meet, we're not really worshiping."

Shawn Wood (12:07):
Now I have some opinions on that having done church at home with four kids that I can give if we want to get it into that. But I was very much in that and that COVID season, it put that junk on the altar. Counting, I love numbers, I'm a numbers guy. I like to look at the numbers I serve as CFO as well as senior leader of our church and numbers speak to me. And yet we couldn't count anything except for the money. That was the only thing we could count.

Shawn Wood (12:41):
And most of the churches in our flow and the ARC churches that was staying steady. So the only number we could really count. So we're trying to figure out if people are joining online, what does that mean? How many people? We can't figure any of that out. Any number that anybody's giving you about how many people are joining them online. They don't know, they don't. I mean, they would-

Frank Barry (13:03):
It's like Facebook views, YouTube views, Instagram.

Shawn Wood (13:06):
Right. But we just came up with this algorithm to count it and just count it the same way every week. So we could at least see this, but we don't know how many people are joining. And so all that stuff was put on the altar. It had to die. And so I came out of it as a pastor and I think a lot of pastors are saying this. I came out of it going, "I can't control any of that. And if we don't meet, we'll be all right. We're fine. We're going to be okay."

Shawn Wood (13:33):
So even to the fact we're not going to meet January 2nd as a church, we never meet the weekend after Christmas Eve, we do a huge Christmas Eve, lots of services. And we just never meet that Sunday after it. That always makes sense. But this year I was like, "I don't want to go to church on January 2nd. Nobody's going to want to go to church on January 2nd. Let's just not do it." And I only do that because of what COVID was able to kill in me of thinking that was the church. It's a part of the church. It's a huge part of the church. But it's not the church, it's not the church.

Shawn Wood (14:05):
So as I'm talking to pastors I'm hearing a lot of that of like, "Man, I didn't realize until that season how dependent I was on the emotional adrenaline that I got from preaching four times and giving it everything I've got for four services and seeing people and shaking hands. I determined if I had a good Sunday by the adrenaline surge that I had. And I learned how unhelpful adrenaline is to measure effectiveness." Number one is you fall off a cliff, you'll get a lot of adrenaline. Right. Not really [crosstalk 00:14:46] measure. Yeah. Real fast too. And then I also didn't realize how unhealthy all of that was to my body because once I didn't do it for a month, I was like, "I feel so much better. I feel like a different man."

Shawn Wood (15:04):
And so some new rhythms in our lives and we're blessed to have been building a building when COVID hit. So we also could go to two services because we had the space now, but I'm going to do everything in my power never to preach four times again on a weekend. And I've heard a lot of pastors saying that. Like, "I went to preaching once or I went to preaching twice and I realized what it felt like to be a normal human again. And I think I'll do that for the rest of my life." I don't think I'm going to serve the idol of people who say they need to see me live to be able to have church. So we might go to [crosstalk 00:15:44]

Frank Barry (15:43):
I've heard some churches, one of the things churches all learned and whether they kept doing it or whatever is maybe a whole different conversation, but especially larger churches that have multiple services and those that are either multi-site or maybe they simulcast somehow, they'll do one live service and record it and play the recording for all the other slots.

Shawn Wood (16:10):
Yeah. Oh yeah. Yeah. I've got lots of friends doing that. You think you're seeing... They're on a video, all the other services because they just figured out it can happen. I always, I'm my best my second time. So I don't know if I'll ever go to one. I like getting that second shot and going, "Ooh, I don't like the way I said that." So if any of my church people are watching this, they know now come to the second service, it's all [crosstalk 00:16:32]

Frank Barry (16:32):
The first service declines in attendance down to [crosstalk 00:16:37]

Shawn Wood (16:36):
Well, I will say this though. I say some really maybe right on the line of offensive things, sometimes the first service and then I have people tell me, "Don't say that. Don't say it." So it's a crapshoot. Do you want to get unfiltered? Or do you want to get corrected? You get to pick.

Frank Barry (16:53):
Yeah. You pick. I mean, everything you teed up, we could go a few different ways. I mean, there's the health side of things, but also what are churches learning and maybe we can jump into them both. What other things did you guys learn over the last two years as a church? What have you come out of this time going, "Oh, we're doing this better or this is a better way to do this ministry or this outreach or..." Super open-ended, whatever it is. But is there any of that where you're like, "Man, this really got better for us through this season."?

Shawn Wood (17:32):
Yeah. I mean, one thing we learned and I learned, and this will be maybe somewhat controversial, I don't know. I don't want to be controversial, but maybe it will be. Is there are some churches who are uniquely called to online experiences.

Frank Barry (17:53):
Right, right.

Shawn Wood (17:53):
Online, real ministry. I'm not talking about, you can watch... We do a very good job of you can watch our service online. We even pray with people while they're on there. We do something like that. Now I'm talking about legit, I live a hundred or a thousand miles away from this church, but I'm a part of that church. There are some unique individuals who I think are uniquely gifted and their platform has been uniquely resourced and supplemented that they can do that.

Shawn Wood (18:23):
And what we learned is, I mean, we didn't hear anybody saying, "I really enjoyed worshiping from my home. Really got a lot out of it. Was able to really connect with God in musical worship." For instance, that was the big... I'm a very musical worship centered person. And we're a musical worship-centered church. We love demonstrative musical worship as a spiritual discipline for our church. And I did not connect with God the same way and at the same capacity and same intensity when it was me with my kids on my couch, watching YouTube on my TV, as I do when I'm in the room. So there's something for me, spiritual about gathering together, the church gathering together that is really important. And I think we learned, I told our church, we're going to use online in every way we can. We're going to do online small groups. We're going to do online join it. But our goal is that people would go to a brick and mortar church in their area or ours if they're close enough and that they would be in community with other people en masse and learning and growing together and experiencing that emotion that I believe God created in us of being together.

Shawn Wood (19:52):
And so that was unique for me because I never knew. Love what some of the churches that I'm friends with their pastors are doing in the space, but I never could connect with, "Would I watch church online?" I just couldn't connect with that. And so I was, "Well, that's not our thing. That's not our thing." Other people will do it. We'll just provide, if you're sick, you can watch this. If you move away for a while and you're trying to find a church, you can watch this. And then during COVID, it had to be the only thing, right? And so I had to really wrestle with it. Like, "Do we want to go after this strategy?" And I saw so many people going after wearing Saul's armor like David had to try and wear Saul's armor?

Frank Barry (20:32):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (20:32):
And they're like, "Wow, we need to do what Elevation is doing. They do eFam and we need to, we're just going to... That's all we're going to do." And I'm like, "Man, the problem with eFam without Furtick is it ain't the same without Furtick. Because he's one of the most gifted pastors and preachers in this country, in this world. I mean I'm a friend of his, but I can say if all you want to do is get the best preaching on the internet, funnel it into your home for content, you and I both should sit down and watch Furtick. Because he's incredible.

Shawn Wood (21:10):
Why am I doing it, if it's just about content? And so that was what we wrestled with is do we want to provide content to people that they will then call community? And yet it will be not community at all. It's a counterfeit of community. They're just consuming content and consuming content is not church. And so we decided we're going to give a place for people that cannot, and there's still people for medical reasons that cannot go to brick and mortar church because of COVID. And I get that. So we have that. We have that for them. We connect them, they serve that way. We have people in our church who serve only online because their comorbidities would cause it to where if they got COVID they would die.

Shawn Wood (21:55):
And so they don't come and meet in church yet. But yet we don't want people to call that their church. We don't want that to be their church for other reasons. And so that was something we learned. I don't, people watching, may be going, "Blasphemy. That's not what we do." But for us, we had to-

Frank Barry (22:15):
Actually, I'll bet you there's more churches that would agree with that and would feel relief from hearing another pastor say it out loud and not looking-

Shawn Wood (22:28):
When I had to try to do it at home, I was... And now I know it's unique for me, I'm having to watch myself preach, which is just a whole other deal. But I was like, "I'm not looking forward to it." Now, I looked forward to my time with God. Because I know, I hear people saying out loud, "Well your time with God, shouldn't it be about..." But I know I had a great time with God where I would worship and would sing and praise on private worship. But with my family all around, all of a sudden it was super weird to ask my 12 year old son, "Hey, why don't you raise your hands like you do at church?" Sitting beside me with your pajamas on. And it just was weird. And so [crosstalk 00:23:06]

Frank Barry (23:05):
Yeah, yeah. Everything is different, right? It turns very consumeristic in a lot of ways.

Shawn Wood (23:11):
It's the content. And I love giving people content. I watch content every week. I'm all about content. This is content, right?

Frank Barry (23:19):
Yep.

Shawn Wood (23:19):
Great content. You need content in your life, but content is not church. Content is not community. And so if you move past that, then you've got to ask some really hard questions. Which is how are we connecting people? And we are not equipped, resourced to connect people in Kansas with our church, the way that Elevation is resourced and uniquely gifted to connect people in Kansas with their church.

Frank Barry (23:47):
Right.

Shawn Wood (23:47):
They can do it. We can't. But if all I need to be is another lifechurch.tv or another Elevation, then why do I exist anyway? So we had to really ask, "What does Freedom church need to be for our people at such a time as this?" And it calls us to wrestle with that whole online thing. It caused us to wrestle with what does discipleship really mean? What does it look like? Because during that season, there were so many people that we couldn't hear from and were so used to at least getting a check-in every now and then. And we were getting nothing back.

Shawn Wood (24:29):
And then that made us go within, what is our real connection with them? If we don't have a small group leader who can reach out to them and say, "How are you making it? What are you doing? How can I pray for you?" How are we discipling them besides the weekend? How are we? And you had to ask a lot of questions about how can we do a better job at that? How can we get people more connected? And then it also made, so this is a little different maybe than what people would think we went, we accepted the fact that no matter how hard we try to get people in those discipling communities, which is the goal, there's a certain segment of our population that is not going to.

Shawn Wood (25:12):
And hopefully we move people from one place to the other. But in a church like ours, there's always going to be 30% of our church that's like, "Hey, I come on Sunday, twice a month. That's what I'm doing." What we found during COVID it was those people were not maybe as connected as we thought they were. So I'm asking in my preaching and our worship on the weekend, "How can we give them a better connection? How can we connect with them more with God?" If all we get to do is disciple them on the two times they come Sunday. Now I'll argue on behalf of those saying they should come more, absolutely. I'll argue on behalf of those saying they should be in a small group, but if they're not going to, what do we need to do better on the weekend?

Shawn Wood (26:01):
And so our weekend had always been this assumption of we're preaching to everybody, but you know we're going for those who aren't saved and we want to be a draw for them, but we expect you to get in a small group, that's an expectation. I think now I'm preaching in a way that I'm like, "I hope you'll get in a small group. I kind of expect that you won't really quickly. And I'm going to accept that as a reality. So I have a little bit more work to do on the weekend than I used to think I had to."

Shawn Wood (26:35):
So that changes my preaching a little bit. And I got to do both, which is even harder. I got to know, there's a huge crowd. There's brand new. There's a big crowd that is going to small groups. And then somewhere in the middle, I got to preach to all of them. So, that was a change for us, Frank, just going, "How do we get around that? And what does that mean?" And then I think the biggest surprise, if I had to say, "Man, this has been a surprise of these two years." Were the people that were unbelievable Dream Team members who have not come back on the Dream Team.

Frank Barry (27:15):
Dream Team is what? Just for volunteers?

Shawn Wood (27:17):
Just volunteers, yeah. So we call our Dream Team, ARC language, we call our volunteers our Dream Team. And I'm hearing this across the country I'm hearing this in droves, the Dream Team hasn't come back as quickly as the people have. And so finding kids workers, finding greeters, finding small group leaders, all that stuff, youth workers, and the people that were just so all in and now are coming back, but are like, "Yeah, I don't want to serve anymore." There are moments that every lead pastor will understand this, what I'm getting ready to say out there, there are moments as a lead pastor throughout your career, and mine's been 10 years so far. And I've had several of these where you go, "Is it doing any good at all? Or is what we're doing, does it even matter?"

Frank Barry (28:10):
Right.

Shawn Wood (28:10):
And I would say that the Dream Team, those high capacity, incredibly discipled, Jesus loving people that have now gone, "Ah, I like getting out of the boat earlier." It has surprised me and has been one of those moments where you're like, excuse me, "Man, we need to really check what we're doing because is it making a difference?" That's probably been the most disappointing thing of the whole two years.

Frank Barry (28:36):
Why do you think that is? And that's a question, you hit a point that I've seen too even in my own church and where I'm really connected and in talking to other pastors and church leaders, right, I've heard that thing. Why do you think there's a decline? And I don't know if this is a generalization. Because I haven't talked to every church, but [crosstalk 00:29:02].

Shawn Wood (29:01):
I mean, I've talked to a lot of pastors and I don't think it's a generalization. I think there's some weird things going on in our country right now. And by weird, I don't even mean, let's say transitional transforaminal and transitional things going on. Not even weird, because there's always weird things, right?

Frank Barry (29:20):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (29:20):
But I'm talking about, I don't think this is a blip on the screen that people are going to choose to work less hours at jobs they really love and demand more money to do it. I don't think it's just a moment. I think the economy and the workforce is going to look very different going forward. I just think churches are going to find a very difficult time hiring in the foreseeable future as easily as we used to. And there's no longer, I've never been a fan of this anyway, but paying less than the marketplace, I don't believe it exists anymore.

Frank Barry (29:59):
Right.

Shawn Wood (30:00):
But, but I do believe people... So that's changing, which is giving people more disposable income, but they're demanding less time on the job or at least flexibility on the job. I'm going to work from home or I'm going to work from my RV while we travel, which has opened up the opportunity for more travel, for more seeing things and seeing people and camping and all of these outdoors things that a lot of times certain parts of the country, Denver, Colorado those places deal with it all the time.

Frank Barry (30:30):
Yeah, totally.

Shawn Wood (30:31):
But we [inaudible 00:30:31] deal with it. So I think that's part of it. I think that part of it is people going, "I mean, I'm just not going to serve because I want to do more recreational things travel a little bit more. I don't want to be tied down to being a leader in this area because that means I can't hardly ever miss." And so I think there's some of that. I think bigger than even that, is laziness is a habit and a big habit can be built over the course of three, four, six, eight, 12 months wherever you happen to be in the country, of people know not doing something. And it just, I mean, giving most of your Sunday to a local church is not the easier choice to make.

Frank Barry (31:12):
Right.

Shawn Wood (31:13):
It's the harder choice to make. And so when you've made the easier choice over and over and over again, you go, "Ah, I mean, we were doing too much. We weren't doing..." Now I believe what's going to happen is, and I believe we're starting to even see this happening, is people are going to find that no matter how flexible their jobs are, no matter how much they found that job that pays better for less hours to do what they want to do. And no matter how much they camp and hike and do all the things, there's still an eternal impact that you want to make with your life and you don't make it in any of those other or things.

Shawn Wood (31:43):
And so they're going to come back and go, "I really want to make an eternal impact. I want to do something that's bigger than me. I want to do something that's bigger than me. Yeah. I'm making a lot more money now, more per hour or whatever, but I want to do something that's bigger than me. I have flexibility. I could go see another great national monument, but I really want to make a bigger impact." So I think we're going to see it correct itself, even though that other stuff isn't going to change.

Shawn Wood (32:08):
And then I do, I do think there's still some fear of serving puts me in front of more people, closer to more people, in unique ways than just showing up to church does. And so I do think there is a small percentage of people that are like, "Hey, I'll attend church, but I can sit where I want to sit by who I want to sit. And I can get out quickly and I'm not around as many people. So maybe I'm not as likely to catch a virus that way."

Frank Barry (32:38):
Right.

Shawn Wood (32:38):
So I think there's some of that too. No question.

Frank Barry (32:40):
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's an interesting time, right? In a lot of ways. I say it, I feel like on all these episodes being a pastor, being a lead pastor, being a church leader of any sort, I mean, it's probably harder now than it has been. Not that it's not difficult work but the last two years has made your guys' jobs incredibly challenging.

Shawn Wood (33:06):
And you're hearing this all over the marketplace. Everybody who's listening to this is hearing it's hard to hire people, hard to find people to hire. But it's the case in churches too. In fact, I talked recently with Todd Rhoades, a buddy who runs a church staffing company called Church Chemistry. And he said hiring people now is six to eight months delayed what it used to be. So if you're looking for a youth pastor probably could have found one in a national search in three months. Now it's going to be a year. It's going to be 18 months to find that worship person because it's-

Frank Barry (33:40):
So crazy.

Shawn Wood (33:40):
... The same thing in the church space that it is in the market space. And part of that is because we had a lot of people leave the ministry over the last two years.

Frank Barry (33:50):
Right.

Shawn Wood (33:51):
I don't think we're talking about it yet enough, how it's going to impact the church for the next decade. A lot of pastors said, "Man, I got up and said, 'Black lives matter.' And then I got torched and I don't understand it and I don't want to deal with it. And I'd rather work at Home Depot."

Frank Barry (34:12):
Right.

Shawn Wood (34:13):
Because they're paying $18 an hour now, so go to Home Depot and get some insurance and I don't have to worry and nobody's going to yell at me and nobody is threaten to fire me." And then a lot of churches and by the grace of God, we didn't have this. But a lot of people I talked to, masking, no masking, vaccine, they quit. So we had a ton of people leave ministry. I think we're going to see that as the combination of that and boomers leaving the workforce in ministry happens, we're going to have to see our staff do a lot more with a lot less.

Shawn Wood (34:47):
So we're going to have less staff to do more and we're going to have to hire less people and we're going to have to pay them more. So because I mean 6% inflation right now, that's the latest COLA from the government is 6%. So if you're looking at raises for your staff right now, take that into mind. 6% is the cost of living increase that they're giving to the Social Security Administration now. And so when you see that you have to pay more, which means tithing is not going to catch up as quickly. So you're going to be able to hire less because you're paying more. And then even when you...

Shawn Wood (35:23):
We have two open positions right now that we can't hire for. And so you have these positions that you're trying to hire for and you can't hire for them. And so it's going to be a unique time and the churches that decide... So right now there are churches going, "Man. I wish we had been with Tithe.ly in 2018. So we could have been ready for 2020." And they'll never make that mistake again.

Frank Barry (35:50):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (35:50):
I think right now churches better get used to, we need twice as many Dream Team members to do what we used to think one could do because they're not going to serve as often as they used to would be willing to serve. And on top of that, we need 30% more Dream Team members because we're not going to be able to hire as many people as we used to be able to hire. And so we got to equip the people to ministry even more than we used to could. That jazzes me, that's what we're here to do anyway.

Frank Barry (36:21):
Right.

Shawn Wood (36:21):
I wish we could get rid of all paid staff in the end. I mean, I wish we, none of us had to do it that we were like, "Man, the church just operates like it operates and we don't have to pay people to do stuff." So that'd be incredible. I mean, don't think we'll see that in my lifetime, but that would be an incredible place to be. Right?

Frank Barry (36:35):
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Shawn Wood (36:38):
Getting people to do what God has uniquely called them to do is my job. So I'm excited by it. I think it's great. Tell me, we got to have more Dream Team members and that excites the daylights out of me, so...

Frank Barry (36:47):
How do you motivate volunteers? We'll wrap on this topic because I feel like we could keep talking on all kinds of things.

Shawn Wood (36:55):
Yeah.

Frank Barry (36:55):
But in this environment, right. With all the context that we're talking about motivating volunteers to come back to kids ministry, to be a greeter, to be a counter, to serve as a small group leader. It's hard and it's all taken a toll on everybody. What do church leaders need to do? How do you inspire people to come back and give their heart in that way?

Shawn Wood (37:21):
So desperation causes us to make really, really bad choices. And what we can do when we're desperate is we can start to fill spots instead of actually looking for what people are uniquely gifted to do. And so like, "We just need kids people. So if you're breathing, man, come do kids." Well, then they get no real appreciation from it. No real satisfaction from it. And then they believe that is what it's about is that it's about...

Shawn Wood (37:48):
Really, here's a great question. How do you motivate Dream Team or volunteer people? Ask yourself this question. Do I care more about being important to them and how important it is? Is it more about them or is it more about me? Right. And most of the time when we are recruiting it's to meet our needs. "We need someone to do this. We need somebody to be in this spot, in this space, whatever, because it makes my life better."

Shawn Wood (38:17):
So what if we actually said, "What do they need?" And then that would be a little bit harder because we'd have to go, "Well, where would you be best to serve?" And if we said, "Where would you be best to serve?" We even would ask the question, and this one's hard, "How often would it be best for you to serve? What is that? What does that look for you?" Rather than, "Oh gosh, we got you. Can you serve every day and every week and man, another team needs you." So what happens is people aren't motivated. The greatest motivation in the world is doing what God has called you to do.

Frank Barry (38:50):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (38:51):
And when you're doing what God has called you to do, you don't need a lot of other motivation. And so if we can get people in that position where they're being fed by the fact that they're doing what God has asked them to do, and only what God has asked them to do, then they're going to show up anyway. And then of course practical things, we can appreciate them. When's the last time, when I don't preach I love to go around and tell people, "Thank you." And just say, "Thank you, thank you."

Shawn Wood (39:18):
Two things people do, people show up to your church, if you're a pastor, they show up to your church with a lot of them at least do, show up and leave with less money than they had when they came voluntarily, generously give to your church so that you can do the things that you do as a church. And we know it's obeying God and we know God called us to do it. But at the practical sense of it, they, by no force, by no one making them, not taxation, not government making them do it or anything, they just come in and go, "Hey, here's our money. You can have it do with it what you want." Basically, and that's amazing.

Shawn Wood (39:55):
And we should thank them so often for that every time someone gives, they should be thanked. When they cross thresholds, they should be thanked. When they increase their giving year over year, they should be thanked. Because yes, they're obeying God, but they're not obeying you. So yeah. Don't make it, "I don't have to tell them thank you because they're obeying God." They're not obeying you. They're obeying God. So thank them for being generous so that you can do your job.

Frank Barry (40:18):
Right.

Shawn Wood (40:18):
And then secondarily, we don't thank the people that serve in our churches enough. It's amazing what a handwritten card will do to say, "You serve in this way. And because you serve in this way, I saw this life change happen, and boy, isn't that cool?" It's amazing what that will do. And phone calls. Everybody under 30, phone calls, not text messages.

Frank Barry (40:47):
I don't know, it might be under 40 nowadays. I'm not sure.

Shawn Wood (40:50):
Phone calls, call people and tell them, "Thank you so much for serving on my team. Thank you for serving this weekend. Will you serve?" I love Planning Center, Planning Center guys. If you're watching, don't get upset. Planning Center is not how you invite people to serve on your worship team. Call them, ask them, thank them. Let them click the node in Planning Center. Let them do the invite. If that's the only way you're inviting people to come and serve on your worship team and they haven't heard from you besides when they show up and you thank them for being there to play bass. Well of course you thank them then. Then they're playing bass for you. They're serving you. Have you called them, asked them, thanked them recently? So I mean, it's just human nature. People say, "How do you recruit people?" Have something that's worth coming and doing.

Frank Barry (41:39):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (41:40):
How do you sell something? You sell a product that's worth buying. How do you keep a customer? You thank them. I mean, it's the two most basic things in the world and most churches do it terribly.

Frank Barry (41:50):
Yeah.

Shawn Wood (41:50):
Terribly recruiting and thanking. Give them something worth giving their life to, and then thank them for doing it. Because if you recruited them properly, you let them know they're doing it for God, not for you. So when you thank them, you're thanking them that you get to be a part of watching them do it. Because they're doing it for God. Not for you. So that sets a tone too. They're not serving me when they serve on the Dream Team. You're serving God. You're not serving Freedom Church, you're serving God. So I think all those things work well together so [crosstalk 00:42:22].

Frank Barry (42:21):
We could keep I'm going, right?

Shawn Wood (42:23):
I'm not [inaudible 00:42:23] any answer. So I know we're probably over time or whatever.

Frank Barry (42:26):
Oh no, there's no real time. But I mean we could keep talking about all kinds of stuff, man. I love throwing out a question, picking your brain for a minute, and then letting you go, because you've got tons of wisdom in the 10 years you've been building that church. Just learned a lot and learned some great lessons through COVID in the last two years. So it's cool hearing your story. So, but man, we're going to call it for today just because I want to be respectful of your time too.

Shawn Wood (42:52):
Thank you. Appreciate it. Thanks for having me on, really love it. Love that we get to be a part of this and any way Freedom Church can help any church that's listening. We love helping churches. We love helping church planters. We love helping pastors. Just let us know. We're an open book to help you.

Frank Barry (43:08):
Where can folks go to find out more about you guys? I know you've written a few books too, so I'd love to give a shout-out.

Shawn Wood (43:14):
Yeah. None of which are available on Amazon anymore. Because they ran out and, and so yeah, I've written some books, but you can't get them. You can find one used probably. So those are great. So going to your local used bookstore and hopefully, someone bought it in your area. But yeah, they can find us at @freedomchurch MC or SC? MC, @freedomchurchMC on all the socials.

Frank Barry (43:40):
Okay.

Shawn Wood (43:40):
And @pastorshawnwood on Instagram for me, DM me if you want to connect and you're a lead pastor I'd love to. You can connect with our staff DM on Instagram or whatever. And then old fashioned if you're really old fashion www.freedomchurch.sc if you don't have the Gram, is our website.

Frank Barry (44:03):
Love it. Love it. Well, Pastor Shawn, this has been great, man. Appreciate you.

Shawn Wood (44:06):
Yeah, I appreciate y'all as well. Thank you for what Tithe.ly does and we'll connect later.

Frank Barry (44:10):
Yes sir. All right. Thanks, everybody. We'll catch you next week on another episode of Modern Church Leader. Bye-bye.

Narrator (44:17):
If you enjoy this episode of the Modern Church Leader, consider sharing it with the pastor or minister you think would benefit the most from listening to this conversation. You can send them to modernchurchleader.com or share this episode directly from your podcast app. Be sure to subscribe for free on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify so you never miss an episode. And we'll see you again next week with another conversation here on the Modern Church Leader.

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How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve with Shawn Wood

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How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve with Shawn Wood

Listen to this episode to see how you might inspire others to serve!

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How to Motivate the Congregation to Serve

As the church is trying to recover from the pandemic, many church leaders are asking how they can lead people back to serving.

The answer is simple: Amid the uncertainty, we need to return to the basics of discipleship and service. By doing so, we will show people the power of community and the joy of serving others. 

This will not only help the church recover but will also give people the opportunity to serve God in new and meaningful ways. It will help them rediscover what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, effectively getting them back on track.

The apostle Paul wrote about keeping our motivation to serve God strong amid difficult circumstances. He referred to this as 'pressing toward the goal.' One of the ways we can maintain our motivation to serve God is to remember our purpose–to glorify God.

The pandemic has weakened many people's desire to serve God. I'm not only referring to the few who've lost their faith. I'm also talking about those who still have faith but have lost their motivation to serve. It's incredibly disheartening to see people who once committed to the community and the church sitting on the sidelines. 

Perhaps we have forgotten to emphasize that serving others is also serving God. And when they serve the Lord, they are fulfilling their purpose. We have spent far too much time telling people what to do and far too little time teaching them why they should care about serving others.

It's in the service of others that we find our greatest joy and our deepest purpose. It's in the service of others that we find our greatest fulfillment.

The pandemic gives the church a chance to rebuild communities and individuals' capacity to serve. We must take advantage of this opportunity to return to our roots as servant leaders. The best way to do this is to bring the church back to where people feel a sense of stewardship rather than simply going through the motions. 

In this episode, our guest Shawn Wood, the Lead Pastor of Freedom Church, will take us through the practical ways to motivate people to serve others. He will also talk about the pandemic's impact on the church and how leaders can use this as an opportunity to step up, serve, and lead people in the right direction. 

“When you're doing what God has called you to do, you don't need a lot of other motivation. If we can get people in that position, where they're being fed by the fact that they're doing what God has asked them to do, then then they're going to show up anyway.”
-Shawn Wood

Shawn is the Lead Pastor and Founder of Freedom Church in South Carolina. He is also the author of several books, including 200 Pomegranates and an Audience of One, Wasabi Gospel, and In the Stillness. Shawn is married to Connie, and they have four children: Isabelle, Hayes, Sam, and Nia.

Listen to this episode to see how you might inspire others to serve!

By the end of this episode, you will learn:

  • The keys to building an online church without losing community
  • How the church can stay connected in times of crisis
  • Why gathering at church is still necessary for spiritual growth and community building
  • Practical ways you can motivate people to serve others
  • Ways to disciple during a pandemic

Here's a glance at this episode…

[19:17] I told our church, we're going to use online in every way we can, we're going to do online small groups, but our goal is that people would go to a brick and mortar church in their area, or ours if they're close enough. And that they would be in community with other people, learning and growing together and experiencing that emotion that I believe God created us of being together. 

[21:14] Do we want to provide content to people that they will call community, yet it will not be the community at all? It’s a counterfeit community. They’re just consuming content. And consuming content is not the church.

[21:28]  We decided to give a place for people that cannot go to brick and mortar churches because of COVID. And I get that, so we have people in our church who serve only online. They don't come and meet in church yet. But, we don't want people to call that their church. We don't want that to be their church for other reasons. 

[37:22] What we can do when we're desperate is we can start to fill spots instead of actually looking for what people are uniquely gifted to do. 

[38:43] The greatest motivation in the world is doing what God has called you to do. And when you're doing what God has called you to do, you don't need a lot of other motivation. If we can get people in that position, where they're being fed by the fact that they're doing what God has asked them to do, then then they're going to show up anyway.

[41:30] People say, how do you recruit people? Have something worth coming and doing. How do you keep a customer? You thank them. It’s the two most basic things in the world, and most churches do terribly. Give them something worth chasing, and then thank them for doing it. You let them know they're doing it for God, not for you.

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