When I began pastoring my first church in 2011, I had very little experience in leading a church. Actually, I had none.
However, I was excited! I was excited about being able to minister to people. I was excited about being able to preach God’s Word.
I had dreams. Dreams of changing the world. Dreams of revival breaking out in our church and community.
I had a vision. I had a picture of where we wanted to go. A vision of a bright future.
There was one thing I lacked (ok there were a lot of things I lacked)…I didn’t realize how dependent we would be on volunteers!
I thought that most of our dreams could be accomplished by the hard work of a healthy staff.
Boy was I wrong!
I quickly learned that in order to have a healthy church we would need a healthy volunteer ministry.
Instead of simply leading ministries, I would have to learn the art of leading volunteers. (It’s definitely more of an art than science.)
Here’s the point, if you want to have a healthy ministry, it’s imperative that you have a healthy volunteer ministry.
In 5 years, we went from having about 10% of our church serving to 80%. I certainly can’t take the credit for that turnaround. God was moving. Our staff bought in to the vision. Our church stepped up to the plate.
If you’re a pastor, one of your responsibilities is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12 (ESV)
Your influence as a pastor isn’t measured by the breadth of your congregation. It’s measured by the depth of your volunteers.
If you want to have a healthy, thriving volunteer minstry, there are 4 things you need to realize about volunteers.
1. Realize volunteers are not just helpers in the ministry. They are the ministry! Don’t view your volunteers as a means to an end. Make them your focus and watch your ministry (volunteers) grow.
2. Realize volunteers are not robots. They are people! Don’t just “plug ’em in” somewhere and hope for the best. Volunteers are real people with real problems. They have strengths and weaknesses. Learn them!
3. Realize volunteers are not maintained. They are inspired. I cringe when I hear people talk about “maintaining” their volunteers. Cars should be maintained. Volunteers should be inspired! Your job is not to make sure volunteers keep going. Your job is to inspire them as to why what they do matters!
4. Realize volunteers are not perfect. They are growing. If you wait for someone to get it all figured out before they serve, you will be waiting a while – a loooonnnnggg while. Realize volunteers will make mistakes, but they will learn from them and grow in the process.
What have you personally learned from leading volunteers? Comment below!