“…help people identify their superpowers and find ways to use those gifts in ministry, to our mutual joy and benefit.“
The traditional ministry fair matches ministries to members. You know — display tables, balloons and snacks, invgorated language about the ministries of your church, and the ever-present clipboard with the sometimes desperate “We Need Volunteers!!” These fairs rarely generate much enthusiasm from existing members for existing ministries. More importantly, they rarely energize people to truly live into their gifts.
What if we reoriented our ministry fairs towards helping parishioners to name their talents and their gifts and see the ministries offered within the context of vocational calling?
Ministry Fairs: Helping People Identify Their SUPERPOWERS?
In planning St. Paul’s ministry fair we shifted how we promoted the event, highlighting a subtle but important shift toward vocational gifts, i.e., superpowers. Parishioners were invited to write their name and note their superpower on their nametags. Some people laughed, some shrugged, and some were thoughtful. But the request always prompted discussion. When one person invited to fill-in the nametag said, “I don’t have a superpower,” someone else immediately chimed in, “Oh yes you do!” and spouted off a litany of gifts. Our nametags were not only a way for people to identify and name their own gifts, but to name gifts in one another! We are all Superheroes in someone’s eyes!
Naming gifts, of the spirit and of the more material world, invited conversation at the various ministry tables. Ministry leaders could see the gifts of each person and talk about how that person’s specific superpower would be a unique gift within the ministry. A subtle but important change!
Superpowers Transform the Ministry Fair…and the World
Prior to the ministry fair, I issued the following invitation in the weekly church email blast.
“What’s your superpower? What awesome ideas are percolating behind your mask? What tricks have you got up your sleeve or under your cape?
Have you ever thought how you might use these superpowers, these gifts, these skills in… ministry? After all, what is lay ministry – ministry done by people who are not ordained as bishops, priests or deacons – but helping God to save the world? Like superheroes.
In the Book of Common Prayer, lay ministry is defined as representing… “Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.”
There’s a lot of opportunity to be a superhero in that definition.
So again, what are your superpowers – your gifts – and where do you take them? Work? School? Community gatherings? Social networks? Social media?
What are the many, many, many situations in the world that cry out in need of a hero? This list seems so long right now. How can you, with your superpowers, answer that cry?
And what is your place in the life, worship and governance of our church? Don’t superheroes always have a lair, a den, a home base where they go when they need to be re-equipped and rejuvenated? How can we support each other when we need to take a break from saving the world, to find ways to center, equip and re-energize one another to go back out into the world once again?
On Sunday, we will be having a Ministry Fair. This event will give you a chance to learn about some of the many ways that people in our parish community use their superpowers to be the hands and feet of Christ in our church, in our community, and in our world. And, even better, it’s a chance for you to share your superpowers.
But maybe you aren’t sure what your superpower is? Maybe you aren’t sure you even want to be a superhero. (Although, it is common for people to discover that once they start using their superpowers to help others, their personal benefit is even greater).
Even if you’re a little uncertain about the whole superpower thing, won’t you join us for Ministry Fair on Sunday? Working together, we can transform our lives, our church, our community, and our world. And help each other become the superheroes God calls us to be.”
Changing Our Language Changes Our Perspectives
St. Paul’s is a well-established parish in an older community, yet it is a vibrant and growing church, welcoming a large influx of new families in recent years. Reframing the traditional wording of a ministry fair, i.e. gifts of the spirit, into “superpowers” is just one way we have tried to engage newcomers in conversation with long-time parishioners. Doing so reflects the energy of these newcomers and helps all members think about their skills and gifts in a new light.
How might your church use the Superpowers approach to transform your Ministry Fair – and transform the world?
As the Director of Digital Ministry for Membership Vision, Lisa Brown works with faith-based organizations to map their ministries onto the digital landscape. She is passionate about creatively enriching spiritual lives through digital storytelling, experiential learning, and collaborative art. Lisa contributed to John Roberto’s Faith Formation with a New Generation and her book The Best VBS Workbook Ever! was released in 2017. Lisa is a member of the General Convention Task Force for the Formation & Ministry of the Baptized and represented the Diocese of Pittsburgh as a Deputy for General Convention in 2018.