Energizing Volunteerism

If I could give pastors a magic wand to fix one thing in their church, I believe most would wave the wand over their volunteer problem. I can easily hear the pain of broken volunteerism. Words like burned out, tired and overworked hang in the air. 

There are a lot of things that can contribute to poor volunteerism. While working with different churches, I have picked up a few things that seem to help people get connected. Here's three things to consider when trying to people to move into serving at your church. 

Build the Right Culture

  • Are you creating a culture of obligation or opportunity. A culture of obligation uses desperation and guilt to push people to serve. The whole "God's going to get you if you don't serve" spill seldom works. And even if people are guilted into serving, the commitment is usually short lived. Volunteerism should be presented as an opportunity, not an obligation. People respond differently to opportunities. So, how do you present volunteerism as an opportunity? That's simple. Share more about the"why" than "the what." Tie it to the vision, and if you cant tie it to vision, you dont need it anyway. The weekend stage is one of the most important places to establish culture. If you don’t talk about it on Sunday, don’t complain when you don’t see it on Monday.

Create a One Stop Shop

  • How easy it for people to serve in your church? Here's an even better question, "How hard is it for people to serve in your church?" In many churches, getting involved isn't as easy as we think it is. When on-ramps to serve are limited to sign-up sheets or finding "Mike" (whoever that is), volunteerism goes away. It's helpful to have a "One Stop Shop" where people can learn more about getting involved. Make sure the kiosk or table is in an easy to find, easy to get to, location. Make sure the person manning the desk is passionate about serving and well-read about the available opportunities. Create a 24 hour policy; if someone shows up and signs up, they are contacted within 24 hours whether by phone, email or in person.

Utilize Small Groups

  • Small groups is a great place to help people take next steps in serving. People are more apt to serve when they are challenged from people whom they have a relationship with. Train your small group leaders to be intentional about helping people take deeper steps towards following Jesus. Remind them their primary goal isn’t to create a group experience, but to make disciples. Serving is an attribute of discipleship. Send out monthly emails to group leaders sharing which opportunities are available. Measure how many people move into serving from a small group. In doing so, you can develop best practices.


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