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

This issue's main article is in three parts. Through an initial conversation with Margaret Hinchey, an experienced volunteerism trainer whose full-time position is Music Director at Our Father Lutheran Church in Centennial, Colorado, the three parts look at how Margaret's church helps people serve.  
How Our Father Lutheran Invites Members into Ministry
Part 1: A Commitment to Connecting People
"We have several strong women in charge of member integration."

That's how Margaret Hinchey, Minister of Music at Our Father Lutheran Church in Centennial, Colorado, explains volunteerism at their church.

Margaret is good friends with Marlene Wilson (see "Margaret's Story: A Musician who Loves Volunteers," part 3 of this story). Marlene is considered by many to have 'founded' church volunteer management in the 1980's. Although Margaret's congregation does not use "Marlene's system" of job descriptions and interviews, their member integration practices (outlined in "The Process," part 2 of this story) are effective in helping people serve in their church.

Jan Burmeister and Elaine Hamburger are the "strong women" - the volunteers who head member integration. They are supported, directed and trained by yet another strong woman, DCE Linda Olsen, who has served on Our Father's staff over 25 years.

Elaine is the organizer, the recruiter. She looks for "social, outgoing people who have been with the church a while" to be on the member integration team and to help with the team's responsibilities, including the "party night" that kicks off the series of orientation classes, and also the corsages, punch and donuts for New Member Sunday. (continued)
How Our Father Lutheran . . .
Part 2: The Process

At Our Father Lutheran Church in Centennial, Colorado, the getting-people-connected process is coordinated by the Member Integration Team. That team is headed by Jan Burmeister and Elaine Hamburger, and supported by staff member Linda Olsen. (See also "A Commitment to Connecting People," part 1 of this story.)

Those who wish to become members go through the following steps, which are offered twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.

  1. A six-week doctrine class. This step can be skipped by transfers from another Lutheran church.
  2. A six-week orientation class which includes:
    • a get acquainted night where they meet their sponsors and enjoy appetizers and wine, social time, a tour of the building, mixer games and small group discussion. Samples: Sponsor Duties and Sponsor Form
    • a Bible study on stewardship
    • a spiritual gifts inventory. Class participants also receive a listing of the church ministries, and the spiritual gifts that 'match' those ministries
    • Those who lead major ministries in the church come to one session to let people know what volunteer opportunities are available
    • Meeting their lay ministers
    • Discussing the importance of small groups for Bible study and also talk about sharing faith in a small group.
    • Completing a time and talent sheet. (Sample)
Click here for the rest of the process

How Our Father Lutheran . . .
Part 3: Margaret's Story--a Musician Who Loves Volunteers
Margaret Hinchey sees her service to her Lord's church primarily through her music. "I've always been involved in music in the church," she says. She has served Our Father Lutheran Church in Centennial, Colorado,, for 20 years.

I think of Margaret as a church volunteerism guru. In 1994, she and Marlene Wilson led a series of workshops for the Michigan District Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I was in attendance as a rookie Director of Volunteer Ministry, eating up every word.

Recruiting volunteers is a significant part of most church workers' responsibilities. Trained as a Director of Christian Education at Concordia, St. Paul, Minnesota, Margaret's first call was to do youth, music and education in a parish.

In this and other churches, she became so skilled at planning youth retreats and events that Group Publishing in Loveland, Colorado, hired her to run their Youth Ministry University, a training program for youth leaders. She met Marlene Wilson, a nationally-known church volunteerism writer and trainer, when she recruited her as a speaker for a youth leader training event. Then Margaret sat in on Marlene's week-long class-Margaret's first official volunteerism training. By the time Marlene was asked to lead the Michigan workshops, she invited Margaret to assist. Their partnership leading volunteerism workshops continued over the years. (continued)

(Link to rest of part 3)
Good Volunteerism Stuff on the 'Net
1. An interesting conversation is taking place in a Christianity Today forum. Coincidentally, it's related to the topic in last month's Equipper newsletter: Volunteer Entrepreneurship. CT posted the question: "How can lay leaders and volunteers get pastors to support ministry initiatives that originate on the volunteer level?" The 50+ responses include many thoughtful views, from both the pastoral and the lay perspective. 
2. I was fortunate in hearing an interesting presentation (via conference call and emailed PowerPoint!) last week. The speaker was Jill Friedmann Fixler, a volunteerism consultant who has experience working with Christian groups. She has many resources (articles) on her website. I haven't checked them all out, but if they're half as good as her presentation, they're well worth the time.
3. Read one man's story of his journey from a church-shopper to someone who initiated a new ministry at his church (in Part 1, "Right Person for the Right Job") and then to the revitalization of the church's "First Impression" ministry (Part 2).  It would be an interesting piece to print and share with a group at your church. They'll immediately notice how his church is different than yours. Then have them look for principles that apply to all churches: what a visitor notices; one man's 'compelling burden;' having fun when serving,  vision casting, servant attitudes, training, and you can probably find more!
In this issue:
One church's story: 
Part 1. A Commitment
Part 2. The Process


The Equipper Newsletter published monthly by
Karen Kogler, Equipper Church Volunteerism Resources