Danni de Keizer on going from secular to church vocation

Danni de Keizer is the Ministry + Membership Director at Grace City Church, Sydney.

What are your main responsibilities?

Helping people connect into church life, find community and feel cared for. It’s facilitating structures that help people build natural connections, like doing meals after services and organising our weekends away. I also look after the ministry team, helping people get excited about serving and being part of what God is doing. I help people recognise their responsibility to their church family and understand that serving at church will help them grow in their faith.

What has been your journey into ministry?

I never wanted or planned to be in vocational ministry. I was new to church and sitting down at dinner one week, and my pastor (Tim Clemens) started getting to know me. I said I’d recently started working as a financial planner but was feeling fairly directionless. He asked me if I was interested in that kind of stuff. I said not really, but that I get really excited about community and hospitality. We had subsequent conversations where he said that the passions God had given me could be really useful for our church.
I was super hesitant to give up secular work – I was questioning the wisdom of leaving a secular job. As a young single woman living in Sydney, it seemed unwise to step into the future with no sense of being able to provide for myself in a sustainable way – which reveals my thoughts around God’s provision! But I kept having conversations with Tim (and others in ministry) and started getting excited about the eternal significance of doing God’s work.

What's one thing you've been figuring out?

I’ve been challenged this year to think about what it looks like to be a Christian and to work for a church. If you work in a church, where do you go to with your normal Christian questions and doubts when your pastor is also your boss, and your peers are also your flock! It can foster this internal shame and confusion because you’re not sure where you’re supposed to go. It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that no other ministry worker has ever felt like this or had questions they still needed to figure out. But it’s a lie – most Christians have times of doubt and confusion! So actually, going to trusted people is appropriate, and being able to say, ‘Hey, this is where I’m at right now.’
One of the most encouraging moments this year was sharing those questions with my fiancé and providing opportunity (scary as it was!) for him to say ‘Yeah, that sounds like pretty normal Christian life, we can talk about that and bring it to God.’ I’m really thankful for those moments now, as opportunities to grow and learn!

Any goals you're working towards at the moment?

We’d love to see 70% of people serving in church. Last year it was sitting around 60%. When I started my role we were just coming out the other end of Covid, and it’s been a challenging journey to get people back into serving at church. People can burn out quickly because there’s fewer people doing a bigger job as the church grows. We have had just under 100 new members join our church this year, but as existing members and team leaders move out of the city it’s always a battle to be raising up new people to lead in various capacities! As teams build again, it’s exciting to see people take ownership, be strategic and take on leadership roles.

Anything you want to share for people in secular work who have never considered doing ministry?

I have always been big on emphasising the value of Christians working in secular workplaces. What an opportunity to share the gospel and demonstrate what it looks like to be a child of God, in any and all vocations! If there was an overwhelming abundance of people leaving their secular workplaces to pursue full time vocational ministry, and no Christian wanted to work a secular job, I think we’d have a bit of a problem! But it seems to me that this isn’t really the presenting issue. I would love to encourage you to think about how you can be intentional about using your secular work as a conduit for the gospel and the ministry of the Lord, and if you think you could be making even more of an impact, can I urge you to seriously consider what it would look like for you to make yourself available for vocational ministry, even if just for a season, or a couple days a week! No period of deliberately pursuing the kingdom is going to be a waste.