Serving at church: Sweet spot or sweep spot?

on January 26, 2012 in Nash-livin' with 18 comments by

Broom ClosetI can’t even begin to tell y’all how much I LOVE my church, Cross Point. There are a lot of backstories that led to this place, which we don’t have time for, but just trust that it has taken me 3.5 years in Nashville to find a church like this.

[Sure. We could have a twelve hour debate about church picking and the theology behind that and what-have-you, but please can we not? Thanks.]

While I was still in Scotland, I emailed Wes, the college campus pastor at Cross Point, and I said, “Wes. Please. Let me volunteer for you. Puh-LEEEEZZZEE!!”

We had never met. So he said, “Rein it in, sister. Let’s have coffee first.”

So we did and I passed the test. And now I get to hang out every week at the college service and meet cool students [big waves to Hannah and the other girls!] and disciple girls and lead a small group and plan parties and all of it.

I also got to write nametags for people as they walked in last week. Meaning, I got to speak to almost EVERY.SINGLE.STUDENT. As you can imagine, I was practically drunk on excitement after that. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, people.

I learned something important about Annie while I was in Scotland. [Mixing first person and third person? You’re welcome. I’m a professional.] I feel the most alive when I’m doing ministry. I just do. I wish I could just write and speak and talk with college girls about God and life and the et ceteras that come along with this phase of life.

That is my sweet spot. 

But. I still have to help set up chairs and clean up the green room and sweep. [I’m guessing… haven’t done that yet, but I bet I will.] And I really try to do it with a happy heart because I don’t want to be a nightmare volunteer. 🙂

But that is not my sweet spot. Not even a little bit. I call that my “sweep spot” – doing the thing you don’t want to do but needs to get done. And even though I find so much joy in college ministry, I don’t love the parts of ministry that aren’t fun.

[Hi. I’m Annie. I’m super mature.]

When it comes to church service, what is the right thing to do?

Do you pursue and seek out your sweet spot? Or do you just look at what needs to be done and step into that sweep spot?

We all have limited hours to serve… so how do you pick?

I’ve been thinking about this so much lately. I watch some of my friends serve constantly throughout their church, doing the yucky stuff. And while it is impressive, I also wonder if they are tapping into that firey spot in your knower that says, “I WAS MADE TO BE RIGHT HERE.”

But I know that some people really do feel like their sweet spot is the sweep spot. Which I find amazing.

And there are others [not me of course… ahem.] who tend to lean towards the idea that if that fire isn’t raging and I’m not passionate about it, I don’t want to do it.

And by the way, isn’t our human nature SO annoying that we get tired of serving at all? I think that is super annoying. I wish my flesh didn’t scream for relief every time I’m doing something I don’t love. Sheesh, for that matter, even when it is stuff I love there are times when my flesh screams “GO LAY ON THE COUCH AND WATCH THE BACHELOR!”

[We have GOT to talk about Ben. Soon and very soon.]

So I’m putting the question out there to you.

When you are serving at church, do you look for your sweet spot or do you look for a sweep spot?

Is your sweet spot the sweep spot?

Do you pursue serving in your strengths or do you find that serving anywhere better reveals your strengths?

Have you found your sweet spot? What is it?

Tell me how you serve.

18 comments

  1. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 7:21 AM  |  reply

    My sweet spot is definitely not the sweep spot but I find there’s some sweep spot moments even in sweet spot ministry 🙂

    I always pursue serving in my strengths. I truly believe we all have our unique God-given passions, gifts and styles and if we all do our “thing” everyone can be happy.

    My absolute best time (sweet spot) in ministry was for about 7 years when I trained people to help other people to discover their passions, gifts and personal styles. And then consulted with people myself too. I was in HEAVEN! The best ministry time of my life.

    2nd best was actually running cell groups – I loved seeing the growth in people from week to week – and leading them into the heart of worship. Mmmmm. Just gorgeous.

  2. merideth
    posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 8:25 AM  |  reply

    I’m like you Annie. I go with the sweet spot. What I am passionate about and gets me all excited at the thought of doing. So glad you found a church home you love. That is so incredibly hard. I’m in the middle of that search now. By the time i find a church home my lease at my apartment will probably be up. Hopefully not.

  3. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM  |  reply

    I tend to be more of a find a need and fill it type of person. I definitely believe that it’s great and important to find out what your gifts are and then find a way to glorify God and serve His body using those gifts. I also am sure there are people who’s sweet spot is the sweep spot…but there are many fewer of those people than there are those gifted in other areas- seemingly more glamorous, visible areas.

    I look at it this way, the church is our spiritual home. I am not a fan of cleaning the bathroom in my physical home but it has to be done even though I am much more gifted at other things. There is a way that doing the humbler thingslike taking out the trash after Family Night keeps me humble. Because pride is my root sin, at the end of the day, serving has to be less about me feeling fulfilled and more about God being glorified…and that may mean trash duty rather than “platform” type duties. Does that make sense?

  4. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:09 AM  |  reply

    Girl, I go with my sweet spot…I just can’t help it! I mean, my job is sort of my sweet spot, and then I have volunteers and interns who do the sweeping part….which I am soooo thankful for! I do the sweeping with them occasionally…but it is not my favorite thing to do. I am so thankful for the people who do think the sweep spot is their sweet spot! It makes my life a little easier…and it just shows me the Body of Christ is incredible and sooo well thought out that God would place all types of people with their own sweet spots together in one place to make Church happen! I just love it!

  5. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:35 AM  |  reply

    Great post Annie, and I loved reading the comments as well.

    I think when I’m serving in church – right now I am on the worship team – I tend to seek out my sweet spot. I always try to do it in such a way that sort of explores what my strengths are and asks the Holy Spirit how I can use those to give Him glory.

    I’ve always been taught that when you are given talents or passions, you should use them for the good of the Kingdom. I still believe that, but I guess I never really thought about doing something I wasn’t that great at or passionate about to serve, if there is a need. I’m glad you planted the seed…

  6. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:39 AM  |  reply

    My sweet spot at church is youth ministry. I’ve been doing it for about 10yrs now.
    I love interacting with the kids and connecting with them, being there for them, helping them build a good foundation and to grow in their relationship with God.

    There are always challenges working with these kids, some are annoying at times (since they are all teenagers) and disruptive but everytime I think about throwing in the towl things happen and I juse can’t leave. 🙂 Which is a very good thing.

  7. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 9:40 AM  |  reply

    Oh and I CAN NOT WAIT for the “Ben discussion”….can’t wait!!!!
    🙂

  8. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 11:22 AM  |  reply

    Let me first say, I’ve fallen in strong like with Cross Point the past few weeks. The people there have been so good to me. Although I’m still in the “comparing” phase with my immediately prior church home, I’m beginning to feel like CP is home too.

    I’ve been serving in ministry at whatever church I’ve gone too since I was in high school and I’ve kind of seen it all. For me, it’s not my job, but it’s part of my calling as a member of the body of Christ. I think it’s important that people figure out what their gifts are and put them to work for the church (hello, NT and all that stuff about spiritual gifts).

    That said. I think sometimes people get so caught up in “this is my gift” that they forget the mundane and practical. Or they pass it off to someone else (and if there is no one else it doesn’t get done) because it’s almost “beneath” them and what they see as their gift. I’ve seen that kind of attitude breed resentment from others who get “stuck” with the no-frills “sweeping” jobs and it’s no good. Whether you’re part of a team, a volunteer, or a leader (esp. a leader, I think), you have to be willing to get your hands dirty. We’re supposed to do EVERYTHING for the glory of God, not just what makes us feel good.
    I mean, my gifts are administration and wisdom/mentoring. But someone has to clean out the coffee pot, put cards on the seats, or scrub tables. Instead of waiting for someone else to do it, my philosophy is step in and do it if it needs to be done.
    🙂

  9. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 1:39 PM  |  reply

    I try to serve from my strengths, otherwise I’ll quickly be drained and coming up with excuses not to serve anymore. After years in a few different roles at church, I took a break from serving the last couple of years because work took so much out of me. That said, I’m not working as a social worker anymore and feel free to get involved again. But I am still figuring the church-in-a-different-state thing out and haven’t served during this time. Once I’m settled, I need to figure out what my sweet spot is. And fast. It doesn’t feel right not volunteering somehow, somewhere.

  10. Anna
    posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 2:47 PM  |  reply

    Great question to ponder. I think about it too as I volunteer in women’s ministry. There are some things I love to do and some suggestions I receive make me want to run screaming! I have no words of wisdom but I’m glad someone else out there thinks of these things.

  11. alicia
    posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 6:16 PM  |  reply

    I don’t have a church currently so I can’t really answer for myself honestly.
    But, I wanted to say this, I have an aunt that loved her old church so much she told them she would do anything. I would go with her and watch her do things like clean toilets, then the next week she’d be cooking a meal for a visiting missionary family, then the next, working in the nursury. She did anything, it was amazing.

  12. posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 6:57 PM  |  reply

    Annie, I can so relate to this sentence, “And there are others [not me of course… ahem.] who tend to lean towards the idea that if that fire isn’t raging and I’m not passionate about it, I don’t want to do it.” but I’m finding (at 35 years old mind you) that it’s true not just for serving but for my “real job” too! What I’ve found (in both really) is that when I serve in my sweet spot I am more productive and it’s more beneficial for everyone involved than if not. Then, even though there are still parts of my sweet spot that I don’t enjoy, I don’t mind them as much because I know they’re for a bigger purpose. 🙂

    Great post! Thanks!!

  13. gmh
    posted on Jan 26, 2012 at 7:38 PM  |  reply

    I wish the thought of greeting every single person thrilled me like it does you, but alas, it wears me out. Pretty sure my sweet spot is the sweep spot- a place where physical demands outweigh emotional demands sounds just right to me. I guess I am so much more of a Martha outwardly, but inside I am as devoted as Mary.

  14. Patricia
    posted on Jan 27, 2012 at 7:21 AM  |  reply

    I agree with those who talk about balance–doing what you love when you can, because you’re likely to be most productive and effective there, while also pitching in to some extent where you’re needed. For me, things like sweeping and washing dishes appeal to my introverted personality (especially if I get to to them alone/in quiet), while other tasks and projects fit my knowledge, skills, and gifts. It just depends on what’s available to be done at the time.

  15. posted on Jan 27, 2012 at 8:32 AM  |  reply

    Speaking from the staff end of things –

    My heart is overwhelmed when I watch my volunteers shine in their “sweet spot”, but maybe even sweeter than that is when I watch them jump in and do things like clean up puke after a middle schooler ate too much candy or pick up that nasty pair of socks trying to find their owner after a retreat… or TAKE OUT THE TRASH WITHOUT BEING ASKED before it overflows…. I hope as a leader I’m celebrating those things just as much as I celebrate the sweet spot. Ministry becomes even more beautiful when you have a group of leaders that pursue the sweet, but don’t neglect the sweep.

    Love this post, Annie!

  16. posted on Jan 27, 2012 at 8:58 AM  |  reply

    I’m going to be real honest here: I get annoyed when I have to serve in a sweep spot. *sigh* Clearly the Lord has more work to do here. (And by “here,” I mean in me. The one who hates to sweep. Or do anything that I don’t love.)

    I do think that God puts together bodies of believers that usually have people with all the necessary spiritual gifts and sweet spots, so if everyone’s doing what they are made to do, every spot is covered. But sometimes, you just have to pick up a broom, I guess.

    Clearly I’m only here to ramble. Are we talking about the Bachelor yet? 🙂

  17. posted on Jan 28, 2012 at 9:34 AM  |  reply

    Hey Annie,

    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. Loved it and loved your post. It spoke to me because I recently found myself feeling burnt out from serving too much in church. I agree with one of the ladies who commented saying we also have sweep spots in our sweet spots. I don’t mind those. However, if we feel compelled to fill a need every time there is one, we will not have anything left to give the Lord or anyone else. I think it is great to follow your passion and have a heart that is willing to sweep.

  18. Barbara Mitchell
    posted on Feb 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM  |  reply

    Sorry I’m commenting late, but yes definately, I’ve found a sweet spot that gives me great joy. I serve with another gal and we had up ‘Connections’ at our church… a group comprised of singles, widows, spiritual widows, and those divorced and separated gals.
    We are so closely bonded together and serving the Lord. We meet for food/fellowship and bible study. I love all these sisters. p.s. I’m a first time viewer of your blog, and have been enjoying it a lot! blessings, Barbara

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