The Equipper Newsletter
February 1, 2008
Churches Equipping Saints for Service

So, What do YOU do?
by Karen Kogler  
The next time you see a group of church volunteers, ask them each to tell you what they do at church.

They'll likely answer with comments like these: “I usher . . .,” “I teach Sunday School . . .,” or  “I visit the shut-in’s . . ..”  If you want to get them thinking, say, “Something I read the other day made me wonder how else we could describe what we do. What do you really do when you usher or teach Sunday School or visit shut-in’s?”

There might be blank looks at first, but some prompting and some give and take might result in: “I provide an environment that helps people worship God;” “I introduce children to the one Friend who will never fail them;” “I bring the care and love of our congregation to those who can’t get here on their own.”

If you get them going, your descriptive list—and their interest and excitement—will snowball. Routine tasks don’t often motivate, but purpose does. How people think of their volunteer tasks affects their energy level and their commitment. How they talk about their task affects what others think of it, and that affects congregation-wide recruitment efforts. Your best recruiters are those who are excited about the purpose behind what they do.

I was prompted to think of different ways to describe what I do, and what church volunteers do, when I read "So, What Do You Do?” by Susan Ellis. Her expansive list of different ways to describe the task of volunteer management in the non-profit sector, and the comments of people who responded, are though-provoking. Now, instead of telling people I’m the Director of Volunteer Equipping at our church, I resolve to say, “I help people do what God created them to do in his kingdom” or “I help release the potential God created in each person” or “I make our church a place to have fun while working together to make a difference.”
Does your church have someone doing that? What difference would it make if it did?
Note: A how-to handout, describing this activity for use with a group of volunteers, is available under "New on this site" at
Recommended by Readers
Two readers of this newsletter recently recommended these resources:
Mary Pat Bretthauer, Director of Connect Ministries at Cross Lutheran Church, Yorkville, Illinois, recommends:
  1. Me to We, a book by Alan Nelson. Mary Pat says: “I finally found a book that not only helped me understand the key paradigm shift that Pastor's, Staff and Ministry Leaders (including myself) need to make in order to develop, nurture and sustain an "equipping culture" within our church.... but also that our church growth and health depends on it.”
  2. "Transforming Volunteers from Social Workers to Kingdom Laborers,” an article by Krista Petty from the Leadership Network website, stresses the outreach impact of church volunteers serving in the community. This excellent article also describes well what motivates people to serve, how volunteers are retained, and how such equipping of volunteers transforms them from mere 'workers' to 'kingdom laborers' who follow Jesus in all aspects of their lives.
Carol Cohrs, manager of the Resources Library of the Michigan District Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, recommends two books and a website:
  1. Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First by Bill Easum. Mr Easum sets out two ideas: first that you can't give what you don't have; and second, a leader’s task is to equip others, not do ministry himself. He further explains that a pastor or leader must know his call and keep it close to the mission and to God so that he can equip others.
  2. Leading From Your Strengths: Building Ministry Teams by John Trent,  Rodney Cox, and Eric Tooker. Based on a personality test in order to find the individual's strengths, ministry teams will flourish by understanding other people and enabling others to understand them. The authors use a short fable to highlight key principles outlining the four personality types and the conflict and resolutions that surround each one.
  3. - "Midlife" really can be a time of crisis, even for those who have achieved financial success. This site is devoted to helping those who have already achieved success move to significance. A church's ministry can be greatly strengthened by tapping the resource of these people who have reached midlife.
Recommend a resource that helps churches help people serve. Email
New on The Equipper website
I've added more information on the website regarding the church volunteerism services I provide:
Good reading: The Deficit Delusion
"The Deficit Delusion," by Mike Ruhl, emphasizes knowing and building on our personal and corporate strengths, rather than trying to fix our weaknesses, when a church selects strategies for reaching their communities with the Gospel. Church volunteerism is closely tied to a church's mission! The article is from the 1/14/08 issue of Mission Moments, an email newsletter of the Center for U.S. Missions. Visit their website. 
In this issue:


The Equipper newsletter is published monthly by
Karen Kogler, The Equipper Church Volunteerism Resources (more info)