The Equipper Newsletter
May 1, 2009
Churches Equipping Saints for Service

 Screwtape Writes on Church Volunteers?
by Karen Kogler

In his popular book The Screwtape Letters, author C.S. Lewis imagined an experienced devil, Screwtape, writing letters to his young nephew Wormwood on the best practices for moving people toward hell and away from the side of the devils' enemy, God. One day I wondered what Screwtape might advise Wormwood regarding people who volunteer at their church.

My dear Wormwood,

Yes, I agree it's a great disappointment when the individual you're working on becomes involved as a volunteer at their church. When they decide to give their time and ability to their church, it's most often a result of their growing attachment to the Enemy. And the more time they spend at church, and with other people in the Enemy's camp, the worse it is for us.

But don't give up hope. There is much we can do to move them back toward us, even while they're still volunteering.

We actually can do much of our usual work even while they are working at church. Encourage gossip, while telling them it's just sharing news of what's going on at church. Surely you can bring to their mind things they don't like about their coworkers or, especially, their leaders. Get them complaining, but tell them they're only trying to make things better around church.

If they are veteran volunteers, encourage them to hang on to whatever it is they're doing, even if they no longer like it. When they need help, discourage them from asking for it. They'll burn out faster and there will be no one to replace them. Or they'll continue, but they'll feel like noble martyrs, and that gives us lots of good material to work on. Either way, it shuts others out from getting involved, which is also much to our advantage.

  Volunteering and the Unemployed
In the article, Jobless Find Benefit in Volunteering, one man says, "When I worked, I never had enough time to do anything else. But the past year has allowed me to fill a hole in my life and restore some balance to it."
Is your church talking to the unemployed in your congregation about volunteering? If you are, what's your approach? Is it: “Good, you have free time so you can do all this stuff that needs doing”? Or is it: “Can we help you find something meaningful to do that you would enjoy while you are searching for work?” 
 More Good Stuff on the Web
  1. Hey, Can You do that at Church?” If you watch the video here, don't get distracted by the media resources this church has. But  DO read Tim Steven’s reply to the first (April 14th) comment, in which he says the purpose was to show “the value of everyone performing their specific part, the part for which they were chosen, rather than the chaos that would have come from everyone doing their own thing.” How could you illustrate that message at your church? Ask a creative person! Notice that the pastor, in 'about me,' describes his role as “finding high capacity people with great hearts and getting them the resources they need so together we can help people meet Jesus.”

  2. Hidden talent -- Did you watch the video of Susan Boyle,  a 47-year-old contestant on Britain's version of "American Idol"? When she said she wanted to be a professional singer, people rolled their eyes and laughed because her appearance was so far from what we expect of professional entertainers. But her voice wowed them. Kudos to Susan for pursuing ways to use her talent, even in mid-life. What talent might still be hidden in my congregation, or yours?

  3. Do women volunteer more than men in your church? Even in leadership roles? "Mind the Gap" offers some ideas why this is so, particularly among younger adults, then encourages conversation on the consequences and responses. The Men's Network, a Lutheran Hour Ministries website, is one response to this situation.

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