he 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?
“What Do You Do in Your Church?” is a how-to handout, describing this activity for use with a group of volunteers.