Volunteer Culture: Debunking the Myth that Volunteering Takes More Time – Part 1

I’m often asked what it takes to move a local church from staff-led ministry to ministry led and carried out by teams of volunteers. It’s certainly not an overnight process to make such an intentional change.

Here’s part one of several responses to the question: how do create a culture of volunteering where people choose to step up and serve?

It starts with vision. Someone with respected voice and leadership must cast vision for volunteering, for volunteers serving. That someone will likely be the senior communicator, lead pastor – whatever the role – the person leading the church. Our founding pastor Mark Beeson has taught and practiced for years that the people of the church are the ministers; pastors and other staff empower and equip them to do so. Mark has taught, cast vision, and ramped up volunteer leaders. He has led the way.

I’ve seen a number of churches claim a desire to empower volunteers, but apparently it’s all supposed to be managed behind the scenes through a leader who’s charged with the new initiative: involve our people. However, without vision being cast to the entire church, it will not happen effectively. If it’s a paradigm shift, the senior leader must paint the picture: both why the current strategy can’t continue like it is, and what benefit comes from this new preferred future.

Just in case the senior leader is at a loss for how to teach this value, the scriptures paint quite a convincing paradigm for volunteer-driven ministry. Just sayin’.

Here’s what’s coming in future posts on creating and cultivating a volunteer culture:

  • People are busy with a full slate of family activity, personal priorities and work. How and why would people alter their schedule to volunteer, to serve through the local church?
  • The church calendar is full. How easy is it for people to make a significant contribution?
  • Meaningfully involving professionals in the church community is especially challenging. How do we leverage their leadership as volunteers?
  • Serving with friends matters. Task is important; so are relationships.
  • What role does serving play in spiritual formation?

Read Part 2 of this series here.

Read more from Mark here.

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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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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
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

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