Volunteer Culture: Debunking the Myth that Volunteering Takes More Time – Part 1

I’m often asked what it takes to move a local church from staff-led ministry to ministry led and carried out by teams of volunteers. It’s certainly not an overnight process to make such an intentional change.

Here’s part one of several responses to the question: how do create a culture of volunteering where people choose to step up and serve?

It starts with vision. Someone with respected voice and leadership must cast vision for volunteering, for volunteers serving. That someone will likely be the senior communicator, lead pastor – whatever the role – the person leading the church. Our founding pastor Mark Beeson has taught and practiced for years that the people of the church are the ministers; pastors and other staff empower and equip them to do so. Mark has taught, cast vision, and ramped up volunteer leaders. He has led the way.

I’ve seen a number of churches claim a desire to empower volunteers, but apparently it’s all supposed to be managed behind the scenes through a leader who’s charged with the new initiative: involve our people. However, without vision being cast to the entire church, it will not happen effectively. If it’s a paradigm shift, the senior leader must paint the picture: both why the current strategy can’t continue like it is, and what benefit comes from this new preferred future.

Just in case the senior leader is at a loss for how to teach this value, the scriptures paint quite a convincing paradigm for volunteer-driven ministry. Just sayin’.

Here’s what’s coming in future posts on creating and cultivating a volunteer culture:

  • People are busy with a full slate of family activity, personal priorities and work. How and why would people alter their schedule to volunteer, to serve through the local church?
  • The church calendar is full. How easy is it for people to make a significant contribution?
  • Meaningfully involving professionals in the church community is especially challenging. How do we leverage their leadership as volunteers?
  • Serving with friends matters. Task is important; so are relationships.
  • What role does serving play in spiritual formation?

Read Part 2 of this series here.

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
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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