I’m not JUST a volunteer. No. Far from it. I’ve chosen my opportunities in life and ministry. I am a volunteer by choice and in mindset. I choose to serve. And I’m not alone.
In the many years I served in volunteer leadership at two different churches, I was privileged to have other high caliber colleagues come alongside me. By choice. They weren’t coerced, guilted, manipulated, or otherwise condescendingly queued into the ministry volunteer pipeline. Perhaps that explains the service longevity of so many of them, even after my departure from both leadership positions. It was never about my charming personality. It was always about their singular commitment to serve God to the very best of their ability.
Want to find people like this in your church? Open your eyes, your heart, your mind, even your home. Get to know people.
1. Start with gatekeepers and networkers. They will provide introductions. I always maintained close connections with these relational influencers throughout my leadership tenures.
2. Invite people to join you for a meal and/or just conversation. Give them a glimpse into your life. Accept their invitations to enter theirs. Nurture lifelong friendships.
3. Give away responsibility and authority. Risky, I know. Obviously, maintain oversight. But do you really need or want to make every decision, especially when you have emerging and existing strong leaders on your team? Trust them. Hold them accountable, but empower them to thrive.
4. Rid yourself of preconceptions about people. Many people are far more willing to sacrifice time, resources, and energy for a greater ministry cause than we we often assume. Cast a big ole freakishly audacious vision and invite others to help you refine it, own it, and implement it.
5. Those people sitting in the adult service every week? Sure they love their weekly worship experience. Now think about how you might inspire and resource them to fulfill their God-given dreams. Hint: if they are anything like me, the fulfillment of their dreams might not occur on the church campus or as something directly and primarily benefitting church people; indeed, they may be the very people poised to help your church impact those who will never voluntarily choose to attend your campus experiences.
I love my pastor and worshipping with my friends in our adult venue. Precious people. But I am not content to be a pew sitter. Nor am I JUST a volunteer, grudgingly agreeing to perform ecclesial community service so I can get the church leaders off my back on a monthly basis. I want to serve significantly with profound impact in my faith community, my neighborhood, and my city.
I know I’m not alone. There are others like me in my church and yours. Your job, leaders? Identify, equip, empower, and unleash them.