How to Uncover Hidden Talent in Your Church

Bobby Gruenewald

Shortly after I began attending Life.Church, I started volunteering as a keyboard player in the band. I spent much of the work week immersed in the business world, but when the weekend hit I spent the majority of my time at the church. If a service was happening, I was there. I heard our messages over and over, and grew close to our leaders from my time backstage. I was in a LifeGroup with someone on staff. I was about as plugged in and as close to the mission as a volunteer could get.

Things in my work life were going well and eventually I was able to sell my company. The local paper ran a story about the sale, and one of our leaders, Jerry Hurley, saw it and asked “Wait, isn’t that the guy who plays keyboard on the worship team?”

He invited me to lunch and asked if I’d ever consider working at the church. I declined at first, because it seemed like such a foreign concept to me. I loved serving my church, but the work I did in technology and business seemed vastly different from anything I could imagine doing in ministry. (Though I often used what I learned at church in my business life.)

So there I was, deeply connected to our mission and our leaders, and yet I didn’t have the vision to see how my business experience could be used at Life.Church.

How many people in your church might be sidelining their gifts because they don’t see a way to use them in ministry?

Significant talent could be buried in your congregation, just waiting for a tap on the shoulder, an invite to lunch.

Whether you’re creating a new staff role or looking to engage high-capacity volunteers, these four perspective shifts can help you tap into the greatest asset you already have—your people!

  1. Don’t say no for them. Sometimes we assume people with demanding jobs are too busy to add something else to their plate. But what if serving in the sweet spot of their gifts becomes a huge blessing in their life, something that actually brings them energy and fulfillment? Be confident that the Holy Spirit will lead them to the right answer for the season of life they are in.
  2. Show them where they fit. We can’t assume people already know how they could leverage their experience in the church. It never occurred to me that a skillset like mine could be useful for our church because I didn’t see it in action there. I was allowing the way things were to limit my understanding of the way things could be. I needed someone to connect the dots for me.
  3. Grow beyond what you know. Don’t let your lack of knowledge hold you back from seeking help in an area. Life.Church was a low-tech church back then, not by design but due to a lack of resources and know-how. Yet our leaders saw how the world was changing and knew we needed to ramp up our technology efforts to reach people in new ways. They didn’t know how to get there, but they could recognize the skillset that would.
  4. Empower and step back. If you want to engage high-capacity individuals, you have to allow them to use their expertise. Instead of creating a culture of micro-management, Craig told key leaders, “I want you to do things the way you want to, not the way I would, because you know things I don’t know.”

Secure leaders won’t be threatened by capable volunteers and staff.

You’re the expert in your church’s vision and have full leadership authority. Bring that clarity to your new leaders, work with them to define outcomes, and then give them space to build a team and execute projects.

When we’re looking for the people and resources that can help us grow our church, we can’t overlook what—or who—is right in front of us. The church isn’t a building or an institution. It’s people. What might we be able to accomplish when we discover their gifts?


Bobby Gruenewald

Life.Church Pastor, Innovation Leader

Bobby is passionate about exploring new ideas and finding practical ways to leverage them for the global Church. He oversees the YouVersion, Digerati, Creative Media, Spaces & Places, and Communications teams at Life.Church.

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