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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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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I just discovered this today and am looking forward to exploring the content on here. It looks like it could be very helpful. Just an FYI - in your paragraph on not putting out B+ material you have a typo. A little ironic. :-) The third sentence begins with "You time" not "Your time."
 
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I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 

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