Volunteer Culture: Debunking the Myth that Volunteering Takes More Time – Part 4

For the next several posts about creating and cultivating a volunteer culture, I’ll pull from my second book, Lasting Impressions: From Visiting to Belonging, to review some common myths that prevent people from stepping up to serve in the local church (or any organization).

MYTH #1: “There’s no room for me; it’s all being done already.”

  • You and I know nothing could be further from the truth. Unless it’s really true, of course. Maybe your staff is doing it all. Maybe you’ve structured things in such a way that there really are not new opportunities for new peeps. True or not, people tend to believe the myth.
  • For instance, at Granger our guests and returning guests pull into the parking lot where they are directed by a traffic team to an open parking space. At the front door of the building they are greeted by one or more volunteers who welcome them to the service. A team is ready at the children’s check-in area, with campus guides available if the family needs assistance getting to children’s launch zones or rooms. There are friendly teams of people throughout the children’s center and each classroom with a prepared room for the session’s activities. When they visit the restroom they discover that someone has cleaned the space, stocked tissue and deodorized.

In the auditorium they discover that someone has prepared a printed program, while someone else has prepared the space with seating, lighting and ambient music. During the service it’s clear that there were teams of artists who practiced and presented music, media and drama. The pastor was prepared with a message relevant to their world. Everything was thought of; everything was covered. “They must have all the volunteers and staff they need,” thinks the normal Granger attendee.

My guess is this is a common myth in your church as well. Every staff and volunteer leader knows it’s a myth. There’s always room for more volunteers.

  • Debunk MYTH #1
  • Talk about it. Don’t assume people will figure this out on their own. They won’t. Say the myth aloud from the platform. At Granger it’s a myth we frequently speak to, directly and simply: “There are abundant opportunities to make a contribution. There’s room for you.” And then we’ll point to the variety of areas where our people can jump in and make a contribution. It seems too simple: talk about it. But the simple is easy to overlook. So, I’ll say it again, talk about it.
  • “Chunk” new roles: In their book Simply Strategic Volunteers, Tony Morgan and Tim Stevens use this phrase to talk about breaking any volunteer project or role down to its many parts. If you have one volunteer responsible for getting the toddler space ready for the weekend, chunk the responsibilities to include more people: toy washers, floor cleaners, people who copy, cut or collate activity sheets. One person doesn’t have to do it all. As roles are chunked you create more opportunities for volunteers.
  • Make sure it’s a myth. If I hear a ministry area in our church boast of having enough volunteers, there’s generally a “come to Jesus meeting” called. If you have teams who can’t find ways to involve more people it needs to be addressed. In more cases than not, that team has stopped dreaming, become cozily settled in their “we four and no more” team of friends or hit a lull in their creative approach to include more volunteers. Only in our band where there are limited instruments do we occasionally find ourselves in a season of “enough.” Tony Morgan puts it this way: “The church can’t afford to have “Not Hiring” signs posted at the door.”

Adapted from Lasting Impressions, Group Publishing

Read Part 1,  Part 2Part 3

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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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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
— Debra
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
— Laurie
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)

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