Volunteer Culture: Debunking the Myth that Volunteering Takes More Time – Part 3

When your church decides to intentionally develop a culture where it’s normal to volunteer, where it’s natural to serve, it’s easy to make it all about the task. And when it’s all about the task, we can make it all about our church. It’s all too easy to forget that it’s first about Jesus and people. I know – shocking. Earth-breaking. But true. Here are a couple examples.

  • The objective, the task alone drives the recruitment of volunteers. 
    • Often churches look at the ministry goals in front of them and go into recruitment mode to get the task of ministry done. And why not? We do have a mission. We have an agenda. There are clear goals with distinctive objectives that must be accomplished. However, even with clear vision cast, the task shouldn’t be the lone motivator for inviting people to serve. 
    • People matter. Inviting them to serve is an opportunity to invest in their personal development, their spiritual growth. Their participation on the team should encourage new friendships, invitations to take steps in their journey, and constant learning to live out the character of Christ as a servant.
      • Make it normal for people to connect outside of their serving time. Time to share a meal, play a game, enjoy worship, just be. 
      • Encourage conversation beyond the task: what are some steps toward Jesus we can take together as a team? What is God up to in our personal journys? Provide space for that dialog. 
      • Create intentional systematic ways to share prayer concerns. Follow up with cards, phone calls and emails. Build a culture of care in your serving environments.
  • Leaders appear arrogant about their church. 
    • Sometimes our promotion of our teams, our ministry objectives, our volunteer opportunities can sound like they are somehow more important to the kingdom than the volunteering our people are already doing in their kid’s school, their neighborhood association, the Red Cross or the community soup kitchen.
    • This past week I learned of another woman in our church who I didn’t know as a volunteer. She wasn’t part of any team. She didn’t appear to have lifted a finger to help our ministry. I was so wrong. Since being diagnosed 10 years ago with cancer, the local oncology clinic has called on her to sit with, listen to, provide encouragement to new patients who’d learned they have cancer. She’s been pulling people back from the edge of hopelessness for the past decade. She’s loved like Jesus, prayed with people, shared scripture and hugged new friends. She has volunteered her time. She’s given her life. That counts for the Kingdom. It is the Kingdom.


  • Invest in people; don’t merely expect them to invest in your ministry.
  • Celebrate every expression of servanthood for the Kingdom – even if it’s not in your local ministry.


Read Part 1 and Part 2.

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Mark Waltz

Mark has spent the past 25 years serving and leading people. While many of those years were focused within the local church, he brings marketplace experience from retail management, as well as career development and training. Regardless of his work or ministry context, he is about investing in people, because he believes people really matter. Think of him as a "people advocate." A sought after consultant and trainer, Mark has helped local churches of all sizes improve their guest services experience. Today Mark serves as executive pastor at Granger Community Church where for the past fourteen years he has been a unifying force, overseeing adult relational connections, including groups, guest services and volunteer strategies. As Granger’s chief guest services practitioner he still inspires teams of volunteers who make Granger Community Church a relaxed, rejuvenating and relevant experience for members and guests. Mark also oversees Granger’s multisite campuses.

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— Abel Singbeh
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu

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