Odds are good your church does not have a staff person who focuses on healthy volunteerism. Few churches do, and the numbers are decreasing. But I’m willing to bet your church does have a person or two or ten who care about volunteerism. So imagine with me . . .
Imagine a world in which every Christian church, no matter its size or budget, had an acknowledged volunteer champion in their midst, a leader who taught ministry leaders best practices in volunteer recruitment and support and who helped people use their God-given gifts in their Lord’s service within and beyond the church.
I long for such a world and now is the time for it. Why? Because the church has the largest volunteer base in the world. Because the world desperately needs the acts of love and service that are the church’s calling. Because Jesus called each of us to (voluntarily!) serve. Because we serve more and better when we have others’ support, encouragement and wisdom in our callings. Because churches so often and so easily continue to use volunteerism practices that worked just fine a couple generations ago and wonder why they’re not working any more.
Imagine what a volunteer champion and their team could do!
- Help people find places to serve at the church and in the community
- Help people see all activities in everyday life as loving their neighbor, serving as God has gifted/called them
- Show how our faith helps as we make choices and face challenges in our everyday serving
- Help church ministry leaders use best practices to recruit, train, support and affirm volunteers they work with.
- Help leaders facing challenges with volunteers they work with
- Help all serve more joyfully, intentionally, impactfully and faith-fully
Virtually every church has someone who can be a volunteer champion. The position can be paid or volunteer. The skills are learnable; the secular world of professional volunteer engagement offers resources, trainings and networking. The needed ‘soft’ skills are not difficult to discern. The volunteer champion will need to build a team, and that brings additional skills to the table. Anyone with a love of Jesus, a heart for volunteering, decent people-skills, and a willingness to learn could succeed as a volunteer champion.
But there is a cost and a challenge. To successfully improve the health of volunteerism, senior leaders must see that the volunteer chamption is given:
- Official recognition of their role
- A voice at the table: input on major events, initiatives, etc.
- Regular access to top leadership to share ideas, challenges, concerns on both sides.
- Support from top leaders, including a willingness to change the “we’ve always done it this way.”
- Physical support: office space, equipment, database, etc.
Imagine every church with a volunteer champion who helps them tap into the potential of today’s highly-skilled younger volunteers, people who are willing to apply those skills when given flexible opportunities to support causes they believe in. Imagine every church serving more hours outside their building than inside it. Imagine every church filled with people asking God to show them their calling in everyday life. Just imagine.
What’s your next step to make that vision a reality?