Volunteer Culture: Debunking the Myth that Volunteering Takes More Time, Part 5

In the last post and next couple 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 #2: “Volunteering Requires Too Much Time.”

This myth may or may not be true in your church. If the only way to volunteer at your church is by serving every week for hours at a time, the above statement may not be a myth; it may be an unfortunate reality.

  • Debunk MYTH #2
  • Create first serve opportunities. We picked up this concept from Willow Creek Community Church. At Willow first serves are “one-time serving opportunities offered at a variety of times and tapping into a wide range of skills and areas of interest.” Their mantra is “Come once and check it out. No strings attached.” People are invited to help prepare the auditorium for weekend services, care for cleanup during services, assist with maintenance projects and more—one time. It’s a first serve.
  • Provide a variety of schedules for serving. There are roles in our children’s ministry that require a weekly serve for sixty—ninety minutes each week, so that our children experience consistency with the adults and students who lead them. There are other volunteer roles in children’s ministry and almost every other department that are as infrequent as once a month. Volunteers can serve in some areas on a seasonal basis, such as our Green Thumb teams who spruce up and maintain the landscape of our campus during the spring and summer months (We’re in the snow belt of Northern Indiana. There are other unique and courageous teams who clear snow and de-ice pavement during the other months.)
  • People make assumptions. People know people who serve 2, 5, 10, 20 hours a week. They assume that’s what’s required to volunteer – so they don’t. People will live their assumptions as reality unless you say otherwise. Find creative ways to allow people to serve without requiring them to quit their jobs to do so.

Adapted from Lasting Impressions, Group Publishing

Read the rest of the series here: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4.
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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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
— Jonathan Schultheis

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