Improving Your Church’s Ministry System: A Review of ‘Connect’ by Nelson Searcy

Connect Searcy, Nelson, and Jennifer Dykes Henson. 2012. Connect: How to Double Your Number of Volunteers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

When it comes to a church’s volunteer ministries, the Pareto Principle seems to apply: 20 percent of church members do 80 percent of the work. This unbalanced ratio is both unbiblical, because all church members should be ministers, and inefficient, fostering burnout among the few and passivity and consumerism among the many.

Pastors and other church leaders who teach every-member ministry have solved the first problem, but the second problem often goes unsolved (or badly solved) because they don’t have a system in place to move members into ministry.

Nelson Searcy’s new book, Connect, outlines just such a system to “mobilize people for significant ministry” (30). Searcy is founding pastor of The Journey, a multisite church with locations in New York City and Boca Raton, Florida. He is also a prolific author and church consultant whose advice for pastors and church leaders can be accessed at

Searcy structures his advice for mobilizing people around four steps:

  1. Clarify your theology of ministry (chs. 1, 2).
  2. Create first-serve opportunities (chs. 3–5).
  3. Cultivate a ministry ladder (chs. 6–8).
  4. Celebrate and reproduce servants (chs. 9, 10).

His advice is empirically grounded, eminently practical, and systematic. The appendices include 40 pages of volunteer-related resources from The Journey. Readers can also register on his website for additional free resources.

The strength of this book is its presentation of a system for teaching voluntarism and recruiting, resourcing, and rewarding volunteers. The book’s most controversial recommendation is letting non-believers volunteer at certain levels in your church’s ministries.

I recommend Connect for pastors, church planters, and other ministry leaders who exercise significant oversight of a church’s volunteers. Whether or not they adapt all of Searcy’s recommendations, they will appreciate his insights into moving their church closer to the ideal of every-member ministry.

P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my review page.

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