Working With Volunteers

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By Lori Wiersma and Connie Kuiper VanDyke

Volunteers to help you! Yes, you need to think about how to identify and harness the gifts of the congregation to help the deacons do their work. This is very important both for the deacons (who will need help!), AND for the members of the congregation who need to use their gifts in ministry as we’ll discover in this excerpt from the Deacon’s Handbook.

Recruiting Volunteers
One of the primary roles of the congregation is to use their gifts in ministry. Your task is to equip them to serve well. Keep your priorities straight—focus first on your members and their gifts, and then find ways for them to serve. Here are some guidelines for recruiting volunteers:

  • Start small. Build on the motivation and skills of those who are willing to help.
  • Offer meaningful opportunities. Each opportunity should include meaningful work with a definite purpose.
  • Look for opportunities to grow. As long as you do not leave volunteers unsupported, tackle projects outside your church’s normal comfort zone.
  • Give clear, accurate information about the need, the intended results, and the potential problems. Let volunteers know how big a time commitment will be required, and stick to it.
  • Express appreciation for the work completed, especially when the results are less than you had expected. Remind volunteers that the results are in God’s hands, not theirs.
  • Follow up when someone expresses an interest in a particular ministry. Make sure he or she has an opportunity to serve in that ministry as soon as possible.

Why People Get Involved (or Why They Don’t)
Church leaders often fret about a lack of involvement among members of the congregation. It’s easy to assume that lack of involvement is caused by lack of commitment, but that’s not always the case. People may not be involved because they

  • were never asked.
  • depreciate their gifts.
  • don’t know the needs.
  • are afraid of doing something wrong.
  • were not appreciated for past service.
  • are busy in other kingdom work.
  • feel on the fringes of your church community.

On the other hand, when people do get involved, it’s likely because they

  • were asked.
  • have identified their gifts.
  • understand the needs.
  • receive training and support.
  • share the work with others.
  • are recognized for service.

These two sides of involvement depend largely on whether or not the congregation has made an intentional commitment to ministry and whether or not deacons know how to involve the congregation in service.

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