the shape of leadership

Ministry Behind the Scenes

Three ways to avoid disillusionment

Michael Evans on March 8, 2023

Did you know there is a hidden tunnel system beneath the Disney World Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, Florida?

The theme park’s planners decided the so-called “most magical place on earth” might lose some of its luster if patrons saw things like electronics operating the attractions, characters shuffling from show to show, trash removal, and incoming shipments.

Disney created a behind-the-scenes world to conceal these realities. Staff members work in an unseen underground network to create the best experience possible for park visitors.

Church is kind of like this. To keep distractions to a minimum so attendees can find and follow Jesus, a dedicated team of people serves behind the scenes.

So, for instance, worship team members may use a click track — which makes a steady “click, click, click, click” sound — to keep the tempo so congregants can worship God without disruptions.

There may be team members who come in early to brew coffee so churchgoers can connect with others while drinking their favorite morning beverage.

The tech team may use an order-of-worship guide to make sure videos, slides, and lighting cues advance according to predetermined service plans.

The list could go on!

Sometimes I wonder whether the Disney employees ever become disenchanted with the entire experience. After all, they are traveling underground. They’re seeing garbage and other nuts and bolts of the theme park.

From that vantage point, the Magic Kingdom might not seem so magical. Perhaps those employees feel a bit lost under Disney.

Serving at church poses similar risks. We can grow weary of the roles and places in which God calls us to serve, especially when we’re working in unseen, repetitive, and practical realms of ministry.

Even when our work
is significant and God
is powerfully using it,
long, uninterrupted
periods of serving can
lead to exhaustion
and burnout.

We must be careful not to lose our sense of joy and wonder while serving behind the scenes. There are three things we can do to guard against disillusionment.

1. Serve from a place of overflow, not deficit. It’s not good to serve from a place of constant spiritual deficit. Healthy leaders serve from overflow.

We all have days when we don’t feel like serving. During such times, we lean on God and trust Him to work through us anyway.

It’s important to seek God and invite Him to renew us during the week. We need to worship Him, engage with His Word, and talk with Him through prayer.

Those are the disciplines that help fill us spiritually. And when we’re filled, we will be ready to serve — even behind the scenes.

2. Connect the what to the why. Everything we do in ministry is important and meaningful, even if only God sees it.

How God uses our service is the why behind the what. The moment we divorce the why from the what, we can lose our way.

Serving as a greeter may seem like an unimportant or insignificant job. However, God uses these faithful workers as the first physical demonstration of His love at the front doors.

A friendly greeting helps guests realize God and His people are happy they are at church. That can be life changing as hearts begin opening to God’s love.

3. Schedule serving rests. We need to rest periodically. God modeled this truth by resting on the Sabbath.

Even when our work is significant and God is powerfully using it, long, uninterrupted periods of serving can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

Schedule days where you can take a break and simply receive ministry. This can be tough for people who love to serve. Yet rest provides heart protection so we can continue enjoying ministry.

Disney is a place where visitors can escape the real world for a while. But it takes a bunch of dedicated team members working within an underground, unseen tunnel system to help make that experience possible.

Unlike Disney, church isn’t built around fantasies. We connect people with spiritual truth and point them to Jesus.

Church ministry is deeply meaningful work that yields eternal results. Yet we must be careful not to lose sight of these realities while laboring for God’s kingdom.

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