PLYMOUTH, MI – If you already read my column “Register to Ramp-It-Up” you can skip down to paragraph number two.
Increasing volunteerism is about raising the bar, not lowering it. There are two ways to enlist volunteers. Sadly, too many volunteers are enlisted with the following discouraging words, “Would you fill this spot for us? Anyone can do it. There is little to no preparation. If you don’t do it, we won’t have anyone else to ask. In fact, we just may quit doing it. I need a quick answer. What do you say?” A better invitation to help sounds like this, “I’ve been meeting and praying with others over a role in the church that impacts people’s lives. You came to our minds. I would love to sit down with you at a convenient time for you. I would like to describe the value of this ministry. I want to invite you to dream with us about the possible outcomes. I want you to know why we believe you’re a great fit for the role. I will give you time to reflect and pray over the invitation after our conversation. We will orient and train you for this important ministry if you agree to serve. When may I meet with you?”
Volunteer Zoom Discussion Registration
Wednesday, September 18 – Click to REGISTER for one time slot
After I served in my first church as a pastor, I implemented what I thought was a very helpful practice in subsequent churches. Except for very few roles, it was stated that volunteer service was for a one-year term. People often think that enlistment to a volunteer role is for a lifetime because many churches do not train-up new leaders and allow people to serve in one role for decades.
Recently, a pastor from a very effective and large church in the south explained that even the elders of the church where he leads, are annually elected to 7-consecutive-renewable-terms-of-service. Meaning that each year, no one assumes continual service. I like his idea and wish I would have implemented that one, too.
Some refer to this annual habit as clearing the board. I like to think of it as helping people to find their most effective place of service. This practice allows ineffective leaders to be set aside after one-year of trying without success. It also allows faithful servants to exit gracefully when life’s demands create conditions where someone needs to step away from a role or ministry. Before you think of me as harsh, keep in mind that an ineffective volunteer hurts just those she is not leading effectively, she hurts herself by not finding her correct place of service, and she keeps the effective leader away from the role she should rightfully hold.
Here is my checklist I work through when I consider enlisting others to serve through the church. These six topics will be a part of our discussion on September 18 at 9 AM or 9 PM.
Is the person trustworthy and honorable in all that they do in life? Does this person display consistent, godly attitudes during the rough times of life? Does this person bring out the best or worst in others?
When this person speaks about their life outside of church, do I get the sense they are on mission with God at work, in their neighborhood and among friends? Is there a fire in their belly to serve the Lord?
Am I comfortable enlisting humble people who are willing to learn? Churches fail many volunteers by not orienting them or training them to serve. Does your church provide training for teachers, caregivers, and financial leaders? A church who has difficulty enlisting volunteers is usually weak at training, supervising and thanking their volunteers.
Does the person I am considering have a proven track record of finishing well in whatever they undertake? Do I get the sense they serve others to benefit others or do alarm bells go-off and it appears this person is more interested in making a name for themselves? I need to be convinced the person serves to bring glory to God.
Often things come down to the simplicity of kindergarten. Does the person I think will make an effective volunteer, play and work well with others? At gatherings, do people surround them and seek out their company and conversation? If so, that person will be an effective influence.
Before I call someone to have a conversation about service in church, I ask two or three trusted advisors what they think of the person. I ask them, “Would you enjoy working with them?” I look them in the eye and say, “Is there anything I should know about the person before we entrust them with a ministry role in the church?”
If you want to learn more about increasing volunteers, please click on the link above to register for a morning or evening discussion on “Volunteers Increased” on September 18. There is much more to discuss. On 9/18, I will point you toward helpful resources that will help you go further. By the time you finish our one-hour, online discussion you will have some personalized action steps for your church and its future.
If you have questions about the ZOOM.US meeting you may call my ministry assistant, Andrew Parsons, Monday through Thursday during normal business hours at (810) 714-1907 or send Andrew an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – see you online in September.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony Lynn is the State Director of Missions for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before coming on staff at the BSCM, Tony served as lead pastor for more than six years at Crosspoint Church in Monroe, Michigan. He and his wife, Jamie, also served with the International Mission Board in Africa and in Europe.