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

Beginning to Equip Volunteers
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois
by Karen Kogler
In this issue I'll profile my own congregation. Just nine months ago, we began the journey of becoming an equipping church. We have a long way yet to go, but it's encouraging to see how far we've already come!  

Background: In October 2007 I began working two days/week at St. Peter Lutheran Church, Arlington Heights, Illinois, as Director of Volunteer Equipping. St. Peter had been without a long-term senior pastor for almost a decade until the arrival of Rev. Ted Andrada in January 2007. Rev. Andrada and I agreed that my goal would not be to recruit or direct all the church's volunteers, but to help individuals find places to serve according to their gifts and to help all of us become better at helping each other serve.

I decided on these priorities:

  1. Get the word out about my purpose and goals; get to know the leaders; hear their concerns
  2. Build teams of volunteers to help me in each area/project of my job.
  3. Make a visible difference as soon as possible.
  4. Focus first on helping new members find places to serve.
  5. Hold off on a major recruitment push until we have a system and people in place to follow up on the many people that we pray will respond.

What's been done:

  1. I wrote up a mission, vision and goals summary.
  2. I met individually with each professional and support staff person to hear their concerns and share my vision.
  3. I met with groups of volunteer leaders (our Board members, Social Ministry commission, Youth commission, etc.) to hear their concerns and share my vision.
  4. We added staff volunteerism training frequently to many of our weekly staff meetings. We're now using Betty Stallings' "Training Busy Staff to Succeed with Volunteers" series, with "Delegating to Volunteers" in May and "Designing Positions for Volunteers" scheduled for July.
  5. New members
    1. Pastor Greiner, our outreach pastor, recently redesigned our new member classes. He teaches one session on vocation and I teach one session on serving in the church. Using his template, I created a serving brochure.
    2. Met individually with most of the December 07 new member class.
    3. This spring, I recruited and trained 6 people to meet with new members. We call them jMinistry Guides. Four of them each met with one person/couple from the March 08 class and they are now doing the same with the June 08 class.
    4. I did not have time to meet with the rest of the March 08 class members, but will come back to them later this summer. I have begun meeting with the rest of the June 08 class.
  6. With our membership secretary, I reviewed our current membership database, ACS Technologies' People Suite. We added a web-based component (AccessACS) through which trained volunteers can add/edit certain member information (such as new member contacts and ministry participation) from home
Click here to continue this article with four more "What's been done" items, plus   
what's gone well, what I'd do differently, and next steps.
Comments worth considering
When we see church volunteerism as helping each other serve, our scope broadens to cover many everyday life issues.
1. A movie review doesn't usually inspire, but in a blog review of the movie Prince Caspian, John Stanko speaks of C.S. Lewis, author of the book on which the movie is based. Stanko also speaks of us when he concludes, 
"I left this movie wanting to do what Lewis had done: Take his gifts and use them in such a way that they touched people where they lived while highlighting eternal issues. If you haven't seen Prince Caspian, do yourself a favor and go. It will do you good, especially if you consider what you can do to touch the world around you like Lewis did his."
2. Dorothy Sayers, a friend and contemporary of C.S. Lewis, was, like him, a Christian apologist, and also a writer of mystery novels. She understood Christian vocation. An excerpt from a "Christian History & Biography" article about her: 

“Though she ardently defended the church, she was not blind to its shortcomings nor afraid to poke fun at it when it became merely moralistic or institutional: 'The Church's approach to an intelligent carpenter,' she wrote in Creed or Chaos?, 'is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.'" 

Good Stuff on the Web
  1. Statistics on technology use among Christians is a blog entry with implications from statistics culled from a recent Barna Group article with statistics on how people use technology for various usages. Are we using technology to help people serve and to share the Gospel? Are we using it effectively?
  2. NavPress has a Bible study on spiritual gifts on their website that covers the basics in a simple and direct manner.
  3. Karen's recent blogs
    1. Expect to have fun
    2. Expect to be surprised
    3. Bar the doors -- how NOT to do church volunteerism! 
In this issue:


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