How Do You Motivate The Unmotivated? Part I

Can you relate?

You try to lead people to love Jesus, love others and make a difference but it seems that either people don’t care or they care about the wrong thing. The general rule of thumb for a church is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Leading people is difficult.

Years ago I worked at church that met in a local YMCA. We were portable and had to setup and tear down every Sunday – been there? The church started to grow rapidly and we discovered this interesting phenomenon – people prefer to sit in the back of the church! From the back of the room our services felt packed, but from the stage the first four rows were nearly empty. It had a negative impact on the energy of the service.

Our solution was to buy station polls and mark off the back rows until the front rows were filled. No biggie? WRONG!

We had people leave the church over this decision. I had to intervene with a contentious small group who ridiculed leadership on the account of the stations. In that moment, people cared.

What our church really needed during this season of growth were volunteers for our children’s ministry – not commentary on seating arrangements. It was very difficult to lead and inspire people.

As a pastor you have a vision. You have dreams to reach your community. But you need help. So how do you motivate unmotivated people?

Start With Why.

I highly recommend reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action. In his book he makes a compelling case that the “What” and “How” of an organization does not inspire people to take action.

Simply said, “We need kids’ volunteers” doesn’t inspire people to take action.

Try this instead: “We have a great opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of our children. You’ll never know the full impact you might have when you invest in the next generation.”

Tie The Why In To Your Vision.

One thing I am often guilty of is when I discover a new idea/program/campaign and cast a compelling vision to accomplish it. If he sat here during these moments, my friend Chris Sonksen would say, “Sermons inspire, but systems change behaviors.”

How do we keep the vision in front of people to continue doing the work after the sermon series, meeting, blog post, etc? It is through a system.

A new program that is not tied into the overall vision will add to the noise. On the other hand a new program tied into the vision will help you accomplish your overall goal. When you can answer why you want to start something new, it will inspire people to follow along. Why do we need small groups, volunteers, outreach to our community? Answer WHY and it will lead you to the what and how.

Stay tuned to part 2 next week on the blog.

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