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

 1. Intro to this issue
People volunteer in the church. And people, including Christians, volunteer outside the church. While we in the church work to help people serve in the church, there is also a huge "volunteer management" world of people and resources who help people volunteer in secular organizations.
A little over a year ago I was invited to write a feature article for e-Volunteerism, a widely-read and highly respected online journal on volunteer management. In the article, which I am now permitted to post on my website and is the third item in this newsletter, I encouraged those who work in secular organizations to see the advantages of breaking down, or chipping away at, the walls that divide secular and faith-based volunteering. 

I've paired that article with another article, immediately below, addressing the same question from the church's perspective. Are there good reasons for churches to partner with secular organizations when serving in the community? How can the challenges be handled well?
Current economic conditions have increased the 'buzz' in the volunteer management field about partnering with churches (see links in part 4). Churches are also increasingly looking to move more into their communities to carry out their mission. It's not easy for faith-based and faith-neutral organizations to collaborate in ways that honor faith. But perhaps it's time to try. As always, your feedback adds value for all of us.
 2. From the church perspective: Sacred and Secular Volunteering
by Karen Kogler 

In the United States, 26% of the population volunteers.* More people (36%**) volunteer through faith-based organizations (churches, synagogues and mosques) than any other type of organization. The remaining 64% of volunteers work for a variety of community organizations: schools and hospitals, the local food pantry and historical society, zoos and museums, animal shelters and shelters for abused women, the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, any many more. Even the IRS has volunteers!

Generally, sacred (faith-based) and secular (everything else) volunteering are seen as either/or. We in the church are happy when more people volunteer at church. We often figure that those who don't have a church are the ones who volunteer in other places.

But it really isn't either/or.

  • Many active church members volunteer for secular organizations. Some do it along with volunteering at their church; some do it in place of volunteering at church.
  • Secular non-profits, particularly those who assist people in need, are beginning to partner with churches. Many do it as a means of gaining volunteers, particularly in this time of increasing need and dwindling resources.
Are these two facts/trends good or bad from the perspective of the church? Do they help or hinder the church? Our attitudes and values follow the way we think, so let's first look at some sources of the barriers between sacred and secular volunteering. Continue reading.
The rest of the article includes: Barriers; Benefits; Challenges; Advantages
 3. From the secular perspective: "Chipping Away at the Wall"
by Karen Kogler. This article was written for the Spring 2008 issue of e-Volunteerism, the electronic journal of the volunteer community and is reprinted with permission.
The Wall Between Faith-Based and Secular Volunteerism:
Is it Time to Chip Away at the Barrier?

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out. . . .
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.
                                 − Robert Frost
In the poem “Mending Wall,” Robert Frost considers his neighbor’s belief that “good fences make good neighbors.” In this article, I examine a ‘wall’ of separation, ignorance or avoidance that exists in many places between two volunteerism worlds: the world of faith-based volunteering, and the world of volunteering which is secular. I contend that there are important reasons to reduce or eliminate that wall.
To continue this article, click here and then click on the article (item #2).  
 4. Links
Statistics from the Corporation of National and Community Service:
Churches can publicize volunteer opportunities on Volunteer Match, a nationally recognized volunteer matching website.
If you're in the northern Illinois vicinity, I'd love to meet and greet you at any of these upcoming events:
I'll be one of the speakers at three Stewardship Learning Events of the LCMS Northern Illinois District. I'll be helping churches determine if/how they're a good steward of their people's time and talents. More info and registration. Other aspects of congregational stewardship will also be addressed at this free event, offered in three locations
     Friday, Sept. 25 at Immanuel, Mokena (1-5 pm)
     Saturday, Sept. 26 at Trinity, Lisle (9 am - 1 pm) Sunday,
     Sept. 27 at St. James, Chicago (1:30-5:30 pm)
The Chicagoland West Team CVC (Church Volunteer Central), a regional gathering of people who work with volunteers in their churches, will meet Thurs. Sept. 10, 1 to 3 p.m., at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Elgin, Illinois, at their Nesler Road campus, 195 Nesler Road, immediately south of Hwy 20  (Lake Street). I will be presenting on "The Value of Ministry Teams." Email Sue Piske for more info.
New on The Equipper Website: "Are You a Good Steward of Your People's Time and Talents," a self-evaluation for churches and church leaders in 20 areas of helping people serve. See the link on the home page.

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In this issue:


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