Here’s another reason motivation matters:

The service culture of the staff also often becomes the service culture of the church. Growing churches don’t become such through glitz and glamor. It’s drive. I know that may sound a little Rocky Balboaish, but it’s really true. The staff of growing churches is almost universally committed fully to Cause. This commitment translates into a church-wide culture of service that is fully devoted. In churches where volunteers are chronically late, flake on things, refuse to follow guidelines, etc., they often reflect the commitment level of that ministry’s leader. In some cases, for instance, the problem remains because the minister doesn’t want to have to build bench-depth or experience the pain of replacing those volunteers with those more dedicated. This is why it’s vital churches hire intrinsically motivated people.

God uses all kinds of churches. However, in my experience, He uses especially those who honor His Cause with the desire it deserves. I’m not saying every declining church has lazy leadership. I’m also not encouraging workaholism. I’m suggesting there is a noticeable difference in the ministry climate of churches thriving and churches dying.

Ministry should be carried out as though we really believe what we’re doing is important. This is different from knowing such rationally. It has to be in our gut… in our bones. It is this sense of urgency that causes us to finish things, be on time, plan ahead, bring our best to the table, and serve with joy. We know what we’re doing matters. That’s why we give that extra five percent beyond where we could have stopped.

When a person exercises, it’s the exercise after the burn begins that provides the most benefit. It’s the same in ministry. This of course doesn’t mean ministry ought to be one big after-burn. Rather, churches benefit most when we refuse to satisfied with the OK. There are times when OK is all we can offer. But, when we can offer our best and instead offer our OK, we often miss key opportunities for growth and perhaps taken ministry too lightly.

One of the best questions any church in plateau or decline ought to ask itself is how much they care. From there flows another important question: Are we (am I) giving God the fatted calf from a ministry standpoint? Or, are we (am I) simply giving God what we must?

This question is huge, and we must answer it honestly.