Department Fair in Preston

Department Fair in Preston

Sherena Harper

Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: you have been nominated to lead a department you say yes enthusiastically. However, there’s a slight caveat - you are either stuck with team members who don’t contribute or worse you have no team!

The question is how do you go about finding a team that works well and who shares a desire to work in your department? I’d like to introduce you to a new concept - Department Fair. A concept that was developed for Preston SDA Church by Laura Jeffers.

So what is a department fair? It works the same as a jobs fair, careers fair or students fair. It's a fair where different departments after giving a brief introduction into what their department is responsible for, basically painting a picture for anyone to see how they could contribute. Member’s were then encouraged to visit any of the departments to find out more details - and if they were interested they could sign up.

Below is an interview I did with Laura to find out more details about how this concept came about.

How did the idea for a 'department fair' come about?

Laura Jeffers: In a board meeting there was a common worry amongst the leaders, we were struggling with our teams. All of us needed volunteers and none of us knew how best to reach people. My best friend had recently attended a job fair which she told me about and the idea stemmed from there. God put the idea in my head; why not have a department fair?

Was it difficult to organise?

Laura Jeffers: Yes, very! With anything that has never been done before there are major challenges. Getting the departments on board developing ‘role descriptions’ was the hardest. A lot of people didn’t yet understand the concept so it was hard for them to imagine what the event would be like. There was more background preparation work than I anticipated as well as logistics which I totally forgot to plan.

How did you overcome these problems?

Laura Jeffers: I had to change my approach and put a lot more into the event than I had originally anticipated. I had to be flexible in accommodating departments that wanted to take part last minute and switch up the plans tailored to the audience. The turn out was a lot better than I expected so we were also limited on space but I can only thank God that people were willing to get involved.

Was adapting to people, and changes, easy for you?

Laura Jeffers: I would definitely not say it was easy. I like to stick to my plans and do things as efficiently as I can. In this case i had to adapt so things could happen at all as well as remember that my plans aren’t always the same as God’s. It was His idea, I was just the one He asked to execute it.

In your opinion, was it a success?

Laura Jeffers: I think so, there is room for improvement but it was successful for sure.

Is this going to be an annual occurrence?

Laura Jeffers: I don’t see why not. The blueprint is there for Preston Church to run it again in the future.

How did you experience, or see, God’s hand throughout?

Laura Jeffers: I’d had a really difficult week and I hadn’t planned as well as I should have. God did what He always does and blessed it. In my mind things didn’t go exactly as I’d planned, but After the event, the feedback I got was overwhelming and so positive. There were even comments from people saying it was the best AYS they had been to in a long while. That was a blessing to hear.

I saw that God used my creative mind and willing heart to create something that can be replicated not just again in Preston but hopefully other churches too.

What did you learn/gain from it? Spiritually or personally ... any insights you would like to share?

Laura Jeffers: I think it was just an eye opener to how much we need to think outside the box to solve our church problems and that God inspires creative minds.

Final Thoughts

Before the concept of a Department Fair was introduced I had never heard of this being carried out. It helped department leaders in really zeroing in on what the role their department plays in the entire ecosystem of the church, as well as ensuring that they had an effective team.

There are some of us who may feel we are pulled into a department to just fill a position and do not feel as though we can, or even want to, make any meaningful contribution to that department.

I draw your attention to 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. We all have a part to play but just because you are asked to be a part of a department does not mean you are obligated to say yes, especially if you have a desire to volunteer but in a different department. Over the years I have been either a department leader or part of the team - but every department I have worked in I have always asked to be in or to lead. There is no harm in indicating to your pastor or the department head that you feel strongly about helping/volunteering in a specific department.

God has blessed us all with our own individual talents, gifts and desires that help move the gospel forward. My prayer is that we all can contribute meaningfully to Total Member involvement.

If you would like any more details on how to organise or plan a department fair feel free to contact Laura at with the subject as ‘department fair’.